Strategy 2

2. Teachers employ a variety of effective strategies that involve students as active and engaged listeners.

Explicit instruction in listening comprehension strategies is extremely beneficial for English language learners (ELLs). However, beginners in English and those who have not yet learned to read in their primary languages will need more modeling and repeated, explicit explanations of the strategies in order to understand and use them.

Effective teachers use, explain, demonstrate, and revisit strategies throughout the school year. Students who may not be ready to understand the explanations of a strategy in October or November may be able to understand and use the strategy when it is explained and modeled again in February.

Limited English proficiency is not the only reason that ELLs may have difficulty understanding a story. Many stories are difficult for ELLs to understand because the stories contain references to American culture, history, and customs--background knowledge that an ELL may not yet have absorbed.

ELLs learn strategies best when teachers provide explicit instruction and modeling. For example, teachers prepare students to use the strategy of predicting what may happen next in a story.

Effective teachers say things like:

I think Annie is going to find her cat.
I predict she will find her cat.
That's what I think is going to happen next.
That's what I predict.
Predict means what I think will happen.
What do you predict?
What do you think is going to happen next in the story?
Say, "I predict . . . " and then say what you think will happen.
Do you think that the girl in the story did a good thing or a bad thing?
When you tell me what you think, you need to explain why you think it was good or bad.
If you think it was good, say, "I think what she did was good because . . . "
If you think it was bad, say, "I think what she did was bad because . . . "

In addition, effective teachers recognize when the context or premise of a story may be unfamiliar to ELLs. Teachers preview the books they read aloud for cultural content that may require explanation before or during the reading. They try to help students make connections to their own experiences. They also select some books because they reflect students' cultures, homelands, languages, and experiences.

Effective teachers say things like:

In the story, the boy's father tells him stories about when he was a little boy.
Do any grown ups tell you about when they were little boys and girls?
What do they tell you?
This is a story from Puerto Rico, and it's about a character named Juan Bobo.
What do you know about him? Can you tell us about Juan Bobo?