ENL teacher and studentWhen children go to school, their goal is to learn the academic content being taught.  But for English Language Learners (ELLs), their goal is two-fold: to learn the academic content while simultaneously mastering the English language.  This presents not only as a challenge for them, but also for the educators who are delivering instruction.

Generally speaking, when we speak about best instructional practices for ELLs, if it works for English-proficient students, it will work for ELLs.  As a matter of fact, many of the strategies that research has supported as being beneficial for ELLs are adaptations of strategies utilized with English-proficient students.  For example, research supports that while explicit direct instruction (EDI) is beneficial for all students, EDI is particularly beneficial for ELLs.  Like many other research-based strategies, EDI aims to provide ELLs with well-crafted, well-structured lessons which allow them to have grade-level access to the general education curriculum with class-wide adaptations.  Along with other instructional best practice strategies with ELLs, the common, overarching goals include the following;

  1. Provide access to grade-level course content
  2. Build on effective practices used with English-proficient students
  3. Provide support to help ELLs master core content and skills
  4. Develop their academic language
  5. Encourage peer-to-peer learning opportunities
  6. Capitalize on students’ home language, knowledge and cultural assets

Thus, if you’re an educator looking for best instructional practices when working with ELLs, remember that the research-based strategies that you’re already using can be adapted to accommodate the language needs of ELLs and make the academic content more accessible.  But how do you adapt the instruction, you may ask?  Stay tuned to the blog to find out!


Diane August (2018).  Educating English language learners: A review of the latest research.  American Educator, 42 (3), 4-9

Hollingworth, J. & Ybarra, S. (2013). Explicit Direction Instruction for English Language Learners. California: Corwin