This blog post was written by WestEd’s Quality Teaching for English Learners.
Remote learning has become the new normal, and educators have been racing to best serve students in distance learning environments. Among these students, English learners are a group that will require rigorous, well-supported content instruction with ample opportunities for language and critical skills development so that they are not left behind.
While multiple organizations have offered extensive lists of resources, educators need to consider how these resources meet the needs for English learners by asking themselves, “What does this resource offer that can benefit English learners?” We know that optimally, English learners apprentice by participating in substantive face-to-face interactions.
The Quality Teaching for English Learners initiative at WestEd encourages you to keep this interactive focus on the instructional methods that teachers employ in a distance learning format rather than on which specific tools and platforms are used.
With that in mind, we offer a few suggestions on how to support your English learner students in distance learning.
Boost synchronous learning time
Use live-time instruction to provide necessary background knowledge, to model language and processes, and to ask and answer questions. Make yourself available with virtual office hours for one-on-one consultations with students.
Offer structures for student collaboration
Design activities that allow students to engage with each other in pairs or small groups, and select platforms that allow students to comment, discuss, and edit each other’s work synchronously and asynchronously.
Provide student opportunities to talk in depth
Ask students to record themselves for group presentations or to individually summarize a lesson using video or audio. Teach students how to self-record using video or audio, self-monitor their performance, and self-reflect on what’s been done well and what remains to be addressed.
Incorporate reading and writing
Integrate activities that get students to discuss, argue, and analyze high-quality texts. Allow for students to provide feedback on each other’s work and to post collaboratively written narratives, informational/explanatory texts, and arguments.