Susan McDonald, M.S., CCC-SLP

Building Background Knowledge: Helping ELL Students Access Social Studies Curriculum

January 10, 2020 By Susan McDonald, M.S., CCC-SLP

According to recent surveys, at least 55% of classroom teachers have one or more English Language Learners (ELLs) in their classroom. ELLs arrive in our classrooms with varying levels of the four domains of English (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) for conversational and academic purposes. As a social studies teacher, how can you help an ELL student make sense of the advanced vocabulary and sentence structures that come along with academic instruction? One proven strategy is to build or activate background knowledge BEFORE starting the unit.

Teach Vocabulary Using the Four Language Domains

Students are required to learn several hundred new words each year. As a classroom teacher, how do you make that vocabulary stick in their brains?