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5 Effective Instructional Strategies For ELL Students in Elementary School

ELL students learning math in their classroom

In this blog post, we will focus on five powerful instructional strategies tailored specifically for English Language Learners (ELLs) in elementary school. These strategies are designed to support young learners in their language acquisition journey and foster their academic growth. By incorporating these techniques into your classroom, you can create a nurturing environment where ELL students thrive. Let's explore these strategies below:

Multisensory Learning

Student is using hands-on materials to model a math problem.

By integrating multiple senses like sight, sound, and touch, English Language Learner (ELL) students can form stronger connections between words and their meanings, enabling them to internalize information more effectively.

  • Incorporate visuals: Use visual aids, pictures, and charts to enhance comprehension and reinforce vocabulary. Visual representations help ELLs make connections between words and their meanings.

  • Kinesthetic activities: Engage ELLs in hands-on, interactive tasks that involve movement and physical engagement. Actions, role-plays, and manipulatives can reinforce language learning and concept understanding.

Total Physical Response (TPR)

Total Physical Response (TPR) is an instructional approach that combines language learning with physical movements. This approach helps ELL students to reinforce comprehension and retention through action-based responses.

  • Connect language with actions: Teach vocabulary and commands by linking them to physical movements. ELL students can respond to instructions by performing actions, reinforcing language comprehension and retention.

  • Role-playing and gestures: Encourage ELL students to act out scenarios, retell stories, or use gestures to convey meaning. This kinesthetic approach helps students internalize language structures and improve fluency.

Collaborative Learning

Students working together to complete a collaborative project.

Collaborative learning refers to a teaching approach that encourages students to work together in pairs or groups to complete learning tasks. It benefits English Language Learners (ELL) by building confidence and providing opportunities for language modeling and practice.

  • Pair and group activities: Foster peer interactions by organizing cooperative learning tasks. Pair ELL students with proficient English speakers.

  • Think-pair-share: Promote active participation by having ELL students think individually, discuss with a partner, and then share their ideas with the whole class. This scaffolds language production and builds confidence.

Contextualized Language Instruction

Contextualized language instruction involves integrating language learning with subject-specific content, such as science, math, or social studies, which enables English language learners (ELLs) to develop both their language proficiency and subject knowledge simultaneously.

  • Content-based vocabulary: Integrate language instruction within content-area lessons. Teach vocabulary related to science, math, or social studies.

  • Real-world connections: Provide authentic contexts where ELLs can use English in practical, meaningful ways. Use real-life situations, simulations, and project-based learning to make language learning relevant and engaging.

Ongoing Formative Assessment

Continuous monitoring and evaluation play a crucial role in supporting ELL students, as their evolving proficiency in English requires tailored challenges, instruction, and curricula. Teachers can effectively track their progress through ongoing observations and engage in regular conversations to directly assess their expressive and comprehensive skills.

  • Informal observation: Regularly observe and document ELLs' progress during classroom activities. Observe their language use, interactions, and comprehension to gain insights into their language development.

  • Conversations and interviews: Engage in one-on-one conversations with ELLs to assess their speaking and listening skills. Use open-ended questions to encourage expressive language and gauge comprehension.


By implementing these 5 effective instructional strategies for ELL students in your elementary classroom, you can create a supportive and enriching environment for English Language Learners. Multisensory learning, TPR, collaborative activities, contextualized language instruction, and ongoing formative assessment will foster language acquisition, build confidence, and support academic growth. Remember to create a positive and inclusive classroom culture where ELLs feel valued and encouraged to participate actively.

If you're interested in further support and specialized instruction for your ELL students, TurtlEd's team of instructors has extensive experience leveraging these strategies to teach both new ELL students and long-term ELLs. Our tutoring program is designed to cater to the unique needs of ELLs, providing personalized instruction and targeted language support.

Sign up for a demo session to learn more about how our tutoring program and instructors can make a difference in your ELL students' learning journey.

Remember, with the right strategies and support, we can empower our elementary ELL students to succeed academically and develop strong language skills. Stay tuned for more insights and resources to empower your elementary ELL students!


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