It takes time, patience, and persistence, but getting your ELL students to speak academically can be done! Here are some ways we practice social and academic language;
1. 10 Finger Sentences: I ask a social question like, "What did you do last weekend," or an academic question like, "Explain how a frog is different than a toad." Students use their fingers to count out their words and revise their sentence. 5 fingers works, too- it can be a challenge or a modification.
2. Picture prompts: I use these for speaking and writing. Most often, I will project an image and have students discuss it, then write about it. We use sentence frames (below) and the 10 fingers strategy to structure our speaking.
3. Headbandz: We LOVE this game! In my room, students use a picture dictionary open to the category page to help narrow down the possibilities. This game is great for answering and asking questions. Students ask things like, "Am I a mammal?" or "Can I swim?" Other students answer in a complete sentence: "No, you are not a mammal."
4. Guess Who: Another game that's great for answering and asking questions. It's mostly for facial features and accessories, but I stress asking and answering in complete sentences.
These are just some of the tricks I have up my sleeve: we do a lot of fun speaking activities to practice, and I'm always adding to my arsenal. I want my students to learn to speak naturally, rather than talk.like.a.robot. Plus, if I'm not having fun, they're not having fun! What are some ways you encourage your students to use social and academic language?