Ideas to Help Create an ELL-Friendly Classroom

Post in News by Patricia Umhafer on 30th May 2019

ELL-friendly classroom
We live in a multicultural world with a variety of languages, and more than likely you have a student (or several) in your class whose first language isn’t English.

The challenge for us educators then lies in creating an environment where ELL students are comfortable, can understand what is going on in the classroom, and can learn all at the same time.

Here’s some of our favorite ideas to help create an ELL-friendly classroom:


  • Use labels: Labels help with classroom organization, but they also help with language acquisition. Label classroom items with a picture, and the word/term in English as well as in the student’s first language.
  • Assign a buddy: Language is best learned by immersion. Assign the ELL student a buddy to help them through their day. Setting up the desks in groups is also a help, so that the ELL student can hear conversations and language, as well as participate in them.
  • Invite the student to share their language and culture with the class: This not only helps the student feel more welcome, but it also allows your other students to learn something new about the world around them.
  • Teach vocabulary explicitly: Do everything with purpose. Each subject has its own specific vocabulary. Teachers should teach and display vocabulary in class, as well as identify the key terms, words, idioms, and phrases that are needed to learn and engage with the subject matter.
  • Model proper language: Use proper language and grammar. Try to avoid slang and explain as much of what you are doing with words and modeling.
  • Make it fun: As often as possible, make learning exciting and engaging.
  • Use graphic organizers: Many students can benefit from visuals. KWL charts, Venn diagrams, and word maps are great options for this.
  • Incorporate technology: Google Translate is a great tool to use (and it’s free!). Listenwise and Quizlet are also great. If you have iPads in your classroom, check out the many options in the settings that can help support your ELL students.

For more tips, tricks, and tech to bring into your ELL-friendly classroom, check out our online professional development platform, Teq OPD!

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