20 Research-Based Strategies for ELL Students [2024] 🌟

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Quick Answer:
Looking for effective strategies to support English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom? We’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll share 20 research-based strategies that have been proven to increase ELL student achievement. From creating a welcoming classroom environment to incorporating visual aids and providing targeted language support, these strategies will help you create an inclusive and supportive learning environment for your ELL students. Let’s dive in!

Quick Tips and Facts:

  • ELL students are a diverse group with varying levels of English proficiency.
  • Research-based strategies can help ELL students succeed academically and socially.
  • It’s important to create a welcoming and inclusive classroom environment for ELL students.
  • Visual aids, graphic organizers, and hands-on activities can support ELL students’ understanding.
  • Providing targeted language support, such as sentence frames and vocabulary scaffolds, can help ELL students express themselves effectively.

Table of Contents

Background: Supporting ELL Students in the Classroom

group of people wearing white and orange backpacks walking on gray concrete pavement during daytime

As educators, it’s crucial to provide effective support for English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom. ELL students come from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and they require specialized strategies to help them succeed academically and socially. In this section, we’ll explore research-based practices that have been proven to increase ELL student achievement.

Creating a Welcoming Classroom Environment

Video: What to do first: Creating a welcoming ELL classroom environment.

Strategy 1: Establish a Welcoming Atmosphere: Create a warm and inclusive classroom environment where ELL students feel valued and supported. Foster a sense of belonging by displaying multicultural materials, celebrating diversity, and encouraging students to share their cultural backgrounds.

Strategy 2: Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate classroom rules, routines, and expectations to ELL students. Use visual cues, gestures, and simplified language to ensure understanding. Provide visual schedules and checklists to help ELL students navigate their daily tasks.

Strategy 3: Use Visual Cues: Incorporate visual aids, such as posters, charts, and labels, to support ELL students’ comprehension. Visual cues can help ELL students understand instructions, vocabulary, and concepts more easily.

Building Relationships and Cultural Understanding

Video: ELL & ESL Teaching Strategies.

Strategy 4: Foster Positive Relationships: Build strong relationships with your ELL students by showing genuine interest in their lives and experiences. Take the time to learn about their cultural backgrounds, traditions, and languages. This will help create a sense of trust and rapport.

Strategy 5: Promote Peer Interaction: Encourage ELL students to interact with their peers through collaborative activities, group projects, and partner work. Peer interaction provides opportunities for language practice and cultural exchange.

Strategy 6: Incorporate Culturally Responsive Teaching: Infuse culturally responsive teaching practices into your lessons. Incorporate diverse texts, stories, and examples that reflect the backgrounds and experiences of your ELL students. This promotes cultural understanding and validates their identities.

Incorporating Visual Aids and Graphic Organizers

Video: Graphic Organizers | Teaching Strategies # 7.

Strategy 7: Use Visuals to Support Comprehension: Use visual aids, such as pictures, diagrams, and videos, to support ELL students’ understanding of new concepts. Visuals can help bridge the gap between language and content knowledge.

Strategy 8: Utilize Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers, such as Venn diagrams, concept maps, and KWL charts, can help ELL students organize their thoughts and make connections between ideas. These visual tools support critical thinking and language development.

Strategy 9: Provide Real-World Examples: Use real-world examples and authentic materials to make content more relatable and accessible to ELL students. Connect new concepts to their prior knowledge and experiences.

Providing Targeted Language Support

Video: ESL Student Support Strategies (ELL, LEP & Bilingual).

Strategy 10: Use Sentence Frames and Starters: Provide ELL students with sentence frames and starters to support their oral and written language production. These scaffolds help ELL students express themselves effectively and build confidence in their language abilities.

Strategy 11: Teach Academic Vocabulary: Explicitly teach academic vocabulary words that are essential for understanding content across subject areas. Use visual representations, gestures, and real-life examples to reinforce vocabulary acquisition.

Strategy 12: Scaffold Reading Materials: Scaffold reading materials by providing pre-reading activities, graphic organizers, and vocabulary support. Chunk texts into manageable sections and encourage ELL students to annotate and ask questions as they read.

Differentiating Instruction

Video: Differentiating Instruction: A Guide for Teaching English-Language Learners.

Strategy 13: Provide Differentiated Assignments: Differentiate assignments to meet the diverse needs of ELL students. Offer a variety of options for demonstrating understanding, such as oral presentations, visual projects, or written responses.

Strategy 14: Adjust Language Complexity: Modify the language complexity of instructional materials to match the proficiency levels of ELL students. Gradually increase the linguistic demands as students progress in their language development.

Strategy 15: Offer Small Group Instruction: Provide targeted small group instruction to address specific language needs. This allows for more personalized support and focused language practice.

Using Technology to Support ELL Students

Video: Working with technology with ELLs.

Strategy 16: Utilize Language Learning Apps: Integrate language learning apps and online resources into your instruction to provide additional language practice and support. Apps like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and FluentU can be valuable tools for ELL students.

Strategy 17: Explore Digital Storytelling: Engage ELL students in digital storytelling activities where they can create and share their own stories using multimedia tools. This promotes language development and creativity.

Strategy 18: Leverage Translation Tools: Use translation tools, such as Google Translate, to support ELL students’ understanding of complex texts or instructions. However, encourage students to use translation tools as a last resort and prioritize developing their English language skills.

Promoting Collaborative Learning

Video: Collaborative Learning Builds Deeper Understanding.

Strategy 19: Implement Cooperative Learning Structures: Incorporate cooperative learning structures, such as think-pair-share, jigsaw, and group projects, to promote collaboration and language practice among ELL students. These structures provide opportunities for peer interaction and support.

Strategy 20: Encourage Language Peer Buddies: Pair ELL students with proficient English speakers who can serve as language peer buddies. This allows for authentic language practice and fosters positive relationships among students.

Assessing ELL Students’ Progress

Video: Assessment of English Language Learners.

Assessing the progress of ELL students is essential to monitor their language development and academic growth. Use a variety of assessment strategies, such as performance-based tasks, portfolios, and language proficiency assessments, to gather evidence of their progress. Regularly communicate with ELL students and their families to provide feedback and celebrate their achievements.


man and woman sitting on chairs

What are examples of research-based strategies?

Research-based strategies are evidence-based practices that have been proven effective in supporting ELL students. Some examples include creating a welcoming classroom environment, incorporating visual aids, providing targeted language support, differentiating instruction, and promoting collaborative learning.

Read more about “… What are High Five Teaching Strategies?”

What strategies are used to support ELLs in the classroom?

Strategies used to support ELLs in the classroom include creating a welcoming environment, building relationships, incorporating visuals and graphic organizers, providing targeted language support, differentiating instruction, using technology, promoting collaborative learning, and assessing progress.

Read more about “… What are Some Examples of Instructional Strategies in the Classroom?”

What are the 5 evidence-based literacy strategies?

The 5 evidence-based literacy strategies for ELL students are:

  1. Explicitly teaching vocabulary
  2. Providing opportunities for extensive reading
  3. Incorporating writing activities
  4. Offering structured phonics instruction
  5. Promoting oral language development

Read more about “What are the 10 High Impact Teaching Strategies? …”

What are effective strategies in teaching science to ELL students?

Effective strategies in teaching science to ELL students include using visuals and hands-on activities, providing language support, incorporating real-world examples, and promoting collaborative learning. These strategies help ELL students engage with scientific concepts and develop their language skills simultaneously.

Read more about “… General Teaching Methods: Strategies for Success in the Classroom”


children writing in books

In conclusion, supporting ELL students in the classroom requires research-based strategies that address their unique linguistic and cultural needs. By creating a welcoming environment, incorporating visual aids, providing targeted language support, differentiating instruction, using technology, promoting collaborative learning, and assessing progress, you can help ELL students thrive academically and socially. Remember, every ELL student is unique, so it’s important to tailor your strategies to meet their individual needs. Embrace the diversity in your classroom and celebrate the rich linguistic and cultural backgrounds of your ELL students!

🌟 Teacher Strategies™ Recommendation: Implement a combination of these research-based strategies to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment for your ELL students. Remember to regularly assess their progress and adjust your instruction accordingly. By embracing their unique strengths and needs, you can help your ELL students succeed academically and thrive in the classroom!


Marti is a seasoned educator and strategist with a passion for fostering inclusive learning environments and empowering students through tailored educational experiences. With her roots as a university tutor—a position she landed during her undergraduate years—Marti has always been driven by the joy of facilitating others' learning journeys.

Holding a Bachelor's degree in Communication alongside a degree in Social Work, she has mastered the art of empathetic communication, enabling her to connect with students on a profound level. Marti’s unique educational background allows her to incorporate holistic approaches into her teaching, addressing not just the academic, but also the emotional and social needs of her students.

Throughout her career, Marti has developed and implemented innovative teaching strategies that cater to diverse learning styles, believing firmly that education should be accessible and engaging for all. Her work on the Teacher Strategies site encapsulates her extensive experience and dedication to education, offering readers insights into effective teaching methods, classroom management techniques, and strategies for fostering inclusive and supportive learning environments.

As an advocate for lifelong learning, Marti continuously seeks to expand her knowledge and skills, ensuring her teaching methods are both evidence-based and cutting edge. Whether through her blog articles on Teacher Strategies or her direct engagement with students, Marti remains committed to enhancing educational outcomes and inspiring the next generation of learners and educators alike.

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