73. How to work with ESL students without the other students just being ignored?

In all classrooms, teachers group and regroup students for different purposes. Within a self-contained classroom, or within a content-area-specific classroom, teachers may have several essential purposes for grouping English Learners or students with limited fluency in English:

  1. To provide, for example, daily specific instruction about the language of the content areas, the language the teacher will use in teaching the content area(s) during that class period or during the rest of the day.
  2. To guide students in writing, for example, in expressing their thoughts about a topic, or in creative writing.
  3. To review spelling patterns that may be difficult for the English learners, etc.

Whatever the purpose, teachers must remember that, if there is NO ESL teacher to help the English Learners, they become the ESL teachers by default, and must provide English language development opportunities to English Learners within their self-contained or content-area-specific classes.

However, teachers must also remember that their English-fluent students may need as much help as their English Learners when it comes to mastering the language of the content areas. Thus, teachers can plan, for ALL students in their classes, language development activities that allow for grouping ALL students in different ways every day.  For example, the teacher can introduce the vocabulary for the lesson(s) to ALL students. Vocabulary introduced through VISUALS, organized into meaningful categories can be presented to ALL students in the class. Then, the teacher can group ALL students into two or three smaller groups where students can talk about the VISUALS, make sentences or identify the vocabulary words in the reading selection. The teacher can work with the English Learners during this time. Then, the teacher can regroup students, with English Learners paired with English fluent students to review the sentences prepared by the English fluent students about the VISUALS. Finally, the teacher can work, using VISUALS and the posted vocabulary, with the entire class group teaching the lesson in which the new words appear.

The English Learners are to be provided the SAME lessons that all other students receive. If there is NO ESL teacher, then regular classroom teachers MUST provide English language development lessons to English Learners within their classrooms BEFORE they teach the content area lessons. Assuming –probably correctly—that ALL students need English language development lessons, teachers should plan small-group activities for ALL students. If they do, no student will ever feel ignored in any class.


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net