Science for Emergent Bilinguals Part 1

Inquiry-Based Instruction

Science teachers can easily incorporate differentiated ESOL strategies into their lessons especially when using inquiry-based learning.  Inquiry-based learning models have students look closely at concepts, moving from the concrete to the abstract.  This natural scaffold allows students to construct new knowledge in both content and language.  Below, you will find some language acquisition strategies that fit into the first two steps of the 5 E’s of Inquiry-Based Learning.


Students at this stage are exposed to the topic so that they can activate prior knowledge and begin to question their knowledge. 

Language Acquisition Strategies:

  1. Introduce the topic through visuals such as pictures, modeling experiments, and video clips.
  2. Have students engage in initial discourse about the topic using natural language (language that they already have in English or their home language). 
  3.  Introduce vocabulary and model academic language.
  4. Use graphic organizers such as inquiry charts and K-W-L’s. 
  5.  Provide focus through a question to consider or boundaries for observations.


Students are provided the opportunity to investigate their questions through experiments and observations.

Language Acquisition Strategies:

  1. Provide students with hands-on opportunities such as realia.
  2. Model academic language as you circulate.
  3. Have students draw and label what they observe.
  4. Encourage discourse about preliminary findings.
  5. Ask questions that encourage deeper, higher level thinking and focus on content objectives.

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