Providing Support to Advanced Language Learners

In earlier posts, we have featured strategies to help beginning and intermediate language learners. In this piece, we will focus on our Proficient and Above Proficient students. These students have great comprehension and near-native speaker skills in the new languagae. They may even be considered proficient on language exams. However, although ostensibly functioning as native speakers, these students may still be developing their academic language as it takes 5-7 years to achieve native-like academic language skills. Here are some strategies you can try with them:

Questioning Strategies:

  1. Ask how and why questions.
  2. Check for understanding by asking students to explain something they have read or heard, or what an assignment means.
  3. Ask students to engage in compare and contrast activities.
  4. Ask students to tell what would happen if
  5. Ask student what they would recommend
  6. Pay attention to cultural differences when studying literature. Students may make different inferences than their peers due to their own cultural backgrounds.

General Teaching Strategies:

  1. Check for understanding of academic vocabulary.
  2. Encourage students to speak in complete sentences.
  3. Provide students a list of target words for each unit of study.
  4. Explain difficult vocabulary, idioms, and homonyms.
  5. Explain sources of humor. Humor is the last thing to come in a new language.
  6. Assist with syntax and word usage in writing.
  7. Provide access to academic assistance at school.
  8. Explicitly teach Tier II words such as “however,” “moreover,” and “albeit” in English or “sin embargo,” “por lo tanto,” and “a pesar de” in Spanish.
  9. Encourage the use of monolingual dictionaries.

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