Words, Words, Wonderful Words!

Fresh out of college, desperately seeking my first teaching job, and bilingual (thanks to a language teaching mother and a love of travel), I was hired as an ELL teacher in a rural city in Eastern Washington. I guess they thought that since I had successfully learned a second language, I probably knew how to help others do the same with English. Well, not exactly!

I struggled through that first year, as most of us do, only with the help of an amazing mentor teacher across the hall. To my surprise, at the end of that first year, she asked me to join the team of teachers preparing to teach a week-long training on how to teach ELLs. I will always be grateful to her for seeing something in me that I didn’t see, and for helping me discover my passion for educating educators!

As my career has progressed, I have found one constant – the importance of teaching language intentionally. When I taught in an inner-city school – the kids had low language. When I taught primarily migrant students – they struggled with low language. And now, even in a suburban, middle class school – my students have low language! Their lowest scores on standardized tests are always Vocabulary, their speaking, reading and writing vocabularies are poor, and, in my opinion, it is the biggest thing holding back their progress in Reading and Writing.

As you might imagine, I have spent a significant amount of time learning how to increase students’ language ability, and I still don’t think I have all of the answers. Over the next few posts I’m going to share a few of the researchers and resources that I have found to be helpful, and also some of the tips that work for me. I hope you will add your insights to the comments section. I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration!

Check out these blog posts for information about the research and resources that I’ve found to be helpful.

These are some of the resources that I’ve created to help me teach vocabulary to my students.

Units to teach word parts

Core Content Units teach content and vocabulary through multiple texts.

Word Puzzles: