Making Language Accessible

Sensory Supports chart
  • Accommodations for Language Learners

    Whether you are teaching students who are learning English, Spanish, Hmong or any other language there are specific actions you can take to make language accessible and, therefore, learning accessible.  If students are having trouble learning, the first question I ask myself is, “What can I do differently so students can learn?” 

    We would never remove an English learner from a science class because they lacked the English; we would accommodate.  Therefore, we should never remove a student from an immersion class because they lack language: we should give them the language they need to succeed!

    The information that follows comes from resources to support English learners but all of these strategies can be adapted for any language.

    Please check out these resources too (click on link).

    And remember what is possible with hard work and "ganas:"

  • General Classroom Accommodations

    • Use a variety of instruction and assessment strategies
    • Have predictable routines
    • Use cooperative group learning- reciprocal teaching, learning circles
    • Provide a model or demonstrations of required/expected written or oral responses
    • Use visuals during instruction and accompany print material with visuals for clarification and explanation
    • Allow partner work
    • Explicitly instruct different types of learning strategies
    • Follow predictable routines in order to create an environment of security and stability especially for students new to the language and culture
    • Involve students’ culture and family in school events and projects
    • Create a sense of belonging for EVERY student in the class

    Specific Accommodations for emerging bilinguals students

      • Reduce length and allow more time for written assignments
      • Allow students to substitute drawings, pictures, or diagrams, graphs, charts for a written assignment
      • Accept all attempts at speech production without error correction
      • Assign a personal buddy to help the student learn the layout and rules of school and classroom
      • Seat new ELL's toward the middle or front of the class
      • Learning Strategies:
Examples of supports
  • Adaptations/Modifications/Recommendations

    ·       Visual and Kinesthetic activities

    ·       Pictures

    ·       Charts

    ·       Graphic organizers

    ·       Tables

    ·       Graphs

    ·       Timelines

    ·       Number lines

    ·       Allow for extra time to complete in class and homework assignments

    ·       Cooperative Activities

    ·       Active listening and speaking activities

    ·       Label classroom



    · Use manipulatives, visuals, realia, props, games

    · Create climate of acceptance/respect that supports acculturation

    ·Use cooperative learning groups

    · Require physical response to check comprehension

    · Display print to support oral language

    · Model activities for students

    · Use hands-on activities

    · Use bilingual students as peer helpers

    · Adjust rate of speech to enhance comprehension

    · Ask yes/no questions

    · Ask students to show/point/draw

    ·Teach content area vocabulary/terminology

    · Simplify language/not content

    · Lessons designed to motivate students to talk


    Sensory Support

    Real-life objects (realia)


    Pictures & photographs

    Illustrations, diagrams & drawings

    Magazines & newspapers

    Physical activities

    Videos & Films • Broadcasts •  Models & figures


    Graphic Supports


    Graphic organizers




    Number lines


    Interactive Supports

    In pairs or partners

    In triads or small groups

    In a whole group

    Using cooperative group structures

    With the Internet (Websites) or software programs

    In the native language (L1)

    With mentors