Sharing the ELL Hint of the Week

Denise Congleton

“Culture shock! After a long break from school, our ELLs may have gotten out of the ‘groove’ of U.S. school culture, struggling with going back and forth, missing family and missing the known parts of life…We are entering testing weeks and stress levels are high.  We expect so much of all our students.  Please remember culture shock and its positive and negative effects on student success.” – from the ELL Hint of the Week, January 6th, 2013

I am the District ELL teacher for London City Schools, and the sole ESL teacher for the district. I am responsible for 27 ELLs in 3 buildings.  I felt the classroom teachers needed more information on best teaching practices to use with ELLs, and I wanted to find a way to assist them.

Since we in TESOL know that the accommodations we make for ELLs benefit all learners, I decided to email a weekly teaching hint to my entire district.  Each Monday, every person on our district email list receives the “ELL Hint of the Week”.  These hints include theories of second language acquisition, lesson plan ideas, and best teaching practices for ELL students.  My goal with these hints was to improve the classroom instruction for our teachers who have not had the benefits of TESOL training.

For example, one hint was to teach writers to skip lines on their papers.  If a teacher models putting an X or dot on the left side of the paper, skipping lines all the way down the paper, then students have an easier time with writing and editing.  When students go back and reread their writing, they have space to add words and ideas.  Our London students—ELLs and native English speakers—have improved in their writing because they have an easier time reading their own work.

My weekly hint is sent to the entire district, and I am always interested to see who will give me feedback on my idea.  I have received positive responses from the Central Office staff, principals, guidance counselors, reading specialists, and classroom teachers who may or may not have ELLs.  I advocate for our district’s ELLs by sharing best practices.  Best of all, ELL accommodations help all learners.  Everyone wins with “ELL Hint of the Week.”

If you have any questions or comments, please email Denise Congleton at  I plan to continue my weekly hints through the 2012-2013 school year.  Please let me know if you would like to be added to the distribution list.

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