Teachers’ Tools for Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language)


Here’s a little tool I use in my classroom for working with ESL (English as a Second Language) or ELL (English Language Learners). Borrow a social studies text book or literature book from lower grades and look at the back for its glossary. If it has words that your ESL/ELL kids are still trying to master, that’s the perfect text book for this! (You may have to go back to third grade or lower for some of your students, depending on their level of mastery.)

Photocopy the pages of the glossary. Cut each vocabulary word out, along with its definition. You can laminate these vocabulary strips, if you like, for better longevity. Put all the vocabulary strips into a big bucket–like those buckets that party-sized ice cream comes in, or a child’s Easter candy bucket.

Mix up the vocabulary words.

Give each student a mini-marker-board, an Expo marker, and a cloth for erasing. (To make a mini-marker-board, simply slide an 8 1/2 x 11 -inch piece of cardstock inside a sheet protector or laminate cardstock pages.) Have the students draw the following design on their mini-marker-boards:

Teacher Tools ESL

Image Created by Chelly Wood

Draw random words from the bucket and give a different word to each student. (You can also have them work in pairs.) Have prizes ready for kids who can fill out their marker-board the most times, correctly.

This is also a great way to review words you’ve given kids for an upcoming spelling/vocabulary test. 🙂


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