How Bringing Content to Life Helps ELL Students Acquire Content and Language Skills

Tracy Fuentes and Ashley Alanis

Have you ever had that teacher who brought a lesson to life with real-life objectives or by recreating a scenario for students to role play and perform?   This teacher employed realia, a phenomenal strategy to use with ELL students because it allows them to grasp a concept while also practicing their language skills.  Using realia in your classroom gives your students a break from normal activities, such as reading and writing, and allows them to have a hands-on experience with whatever content is being explored.

Seventh grade ELL students from Stevenson Middle School experience realia during a unique teacher-created lesson.  Ashley Alanis, a Sheltered English Reading Teacher, transforms her students into detectives from the Melrose Park CSI to practice inferencing skills. Students are presented with a crime scene scenario. They work with partners to gather evidence and solve the crime.  During this lesson, students not only hone their inferencing skills, but also have language-enriching conversations with their partners as they collaborate to solve the case.  Students enjoy being a detective for a day because they play a new and exciting role in the safety of their classroom.

Employing realia in teaching empowers students to learn through real-life situations. Teachers from this AIMS Network school engage learners through experiences that will increase understanding and broaden their skills.

Tracy Fuentes is an ELL teacher and Ashley Alanis is a Sheltered English Reading Teacher at Stevenson Middle School in Melrose Park, IL. Follow this IL Horizon School to Watch on Twitter @StevensonSD89.