Literacy Development and Engagement

Vocabulary Cartoons

Vocabulary Cartoons are simple cartoons done in a Gary Larsen “Far Side” style–a single picture with a witty caption–only they feature a new vocabulary word and a similar “punny” play on words.  They work well because they create a simple memory trick, either a mnemonic or a very close word play that is easy to remember and also a bit funny.

I love this idea because it shows how words can be fun.  In my experience living in a Spanish-speaking country, I found that locals loved playing around with words and when I could join in on that fun I knew I had reached a certain level of fluency and comprehension.  I think that the same holds true here, as students are able to begin joking and playing around in the language they begin to feel more at home.

Grammatical Errors and What Teachers Should Know About Them with Regard to ELLs.

I found this article to be very eye-opening.  It really hit home when I read, “Native-English-speaking teachers can easily correct these errors, but they usually have no idea how to explain why these incorrect structures are not possible.”  I really think that this statement can apply much more broadly to any subject being taught–imagine you’re most frustrating teacher when you were a student and they probably told you things like “it’s wrong because I told you so!” or something along those lines.

An article like this is a great resource to revisit from time to time to really ask myself if I’m working on improving my own grasp of what I’m teaching so that when unexpected questions come up, I am able to give explanations and clarifications that not only serve to help the student improve but satisfy their curiosity and demand for a “why”.  

For ELLs to be expected to improve how they communicate in this new language they are going to need a firm grasp of English grammar.  And to gain that firm grasp, they will need confident and clear explanations from their teachers who are serving as their guides on this journey.  Thus the teacher needs a complete grasp over what they’re teaching!


Theoretical Foundations

Preparing for ELLs

Developing Social and Academic Skills

Building Competence and Confidence