ESOL Student Tips

My Top 5 ESOL Strategies 

1. TPR (Total Physical Response)

Always get those kids moving and grooving. Kids love to move. Even basic lessons I get kids moving. It activates their attention. Plus, it is a lot less boring for you. Kids are so silly and lessons, where they can be silly, make great stories later.

In my math lessons, I have movements with key vocabulary words. This way they learn the math vocabulary because I consistently do the action. (I look ridiculous about 90 percent of the day.) I also encourage the students to do the actions when they hear the words. This might be why my classrooms sound loud and chaotic all the time. However, they have a lot of fun!

2. Making Vocabulary Picture Books

My current ESOL support teacher gave me the idea that my two brand new English students should make books with key vocabulary words in instructional English, content vocabulary, and their own explored vocabulary.

I will definitely modify this by making them bonded books, so we can add pages easily to the appropriate section. However, this year, they made bi-weekly books.




Adults learn by actions and by watching others. Why do we insist children are different? Also, I like to have kids come up and have other students speak and explain directions. 

So I do 2 or 3 examples. Yawnfest! Kids start to fall asleep, write love notes, or play inside their desks (AKA phones). I call on one student to follow the directions given by another student. I repeat this process 4 or 5 times. Most students understand how to complete the assignment or work. Now, unto independent work!

4. Singing / Songs/ Poems

Anytime I find a song on youtube, about any topic, I play it about 300 times until ALL my students sing the song while they do independent work. They hate it and love it, ALL at once!

Sometimes, I get creative and just make up songs and sing to them during the lesson. The students find this funny and I get told how awful of a singer I am. Win-win! Make fun of teacher and learn from the teacher all in the same 10 minutes.

5. Group/ Partner Projects

Kids will always listen to other kids more than their teachers. This is life. I love having students work in pairs or small groups. I hold one kid responsible. If I hear non-English words spoken, the whole group is in trouble. They lose house points or owe some recess time. I tell them in the English Leader (they make sure everyone speaks English) is correcting their friends when I walk by or sneak attack them, I usually give prizes or extra play time. The students hate my sneak attacks and love them all at once. They mainly just think I look super silly if they caught me in mid-sneak.




Do you have additional ideas? Have you tried something else that was successful? I would love to hear about it. Send an email to