English and Science Content

Education Connections

Education Connections Tuesday’s Tip: Supporting EL learners in science instruction

Forum: Tuesday’s Tips (Education Connections)

Erik Halvorson

Education Connections

How do you prepare all students to learn and participate in your science lessons and units? What tools, strategies, and methods do you use to make sure all learners are supported and encouraged during science learning?

For EL students, science courses often have the advantage of offering hands-on learning opportunities, observations, and real-life examples. Yet science learning also poses special challenges for ELs, especially when it comes to vocabulary learning, terminology use, and classroom confidence. Reviewing critical terminology and modeling the scientific questioning process before a lesson can be an essential first step to helping students engage with the material and the steps of scientific inquiry.  It is also important to consider how lessons require students to interact through writing, as well as through sharing in small and large groups, and to make sure that students are supported throughout lessons and feel confident to share out during the lesson, even as they continue to develop their academic English language skills.

For some ways to ensure your science lessons address the needs of all students, including English learners, take a look at these resources from Colorín Colorado.

Or, to see how one instructor carefully tailors her science lessons to the needs of her EL students, check out this short video from the Teaching Channel.


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