Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ten Strategies for Teaching Study Skills to English Language Learners

English language learners (ELLs) need to learn specific strategies to prepare them to take tests. These strategies are most effective if they are built into instruction.
1. Teach students to study actively. They are more likely to remember material if it is written down or if they say it out loud than if it is only read or heard. Give plenty of opportunities to students for active study.
2. Make sure your students really comprehend the material they are studying. You do not want them to memorize facts without really understanding them. If they understand the material, they will be able to remember it better.
3. Assess prior knowledge so that you can connect new material to something your students already know. Teach students to make this connection themselves. You want to foster independent learners.
4. Have students create their own examples when trying to understand and remember a general concept. This not only helps students remember the concept better, but also helps them check their own understanding.
5. Teach students to visualize what they're trying to learn. Have them create a mental image or organize information on a graphic organizer.
6. Show ELLs how to pick out the most important concepts. They will not be able to memorize everything in a unit. They need to learn to pay attention to the information the teacher indicates is important. Demonstrate to ELLs how teachers signal important information. It could be written on the board, repeated many times or prefaced with words such as "This is important."
7. Set reasonable goals for the material that English language learners should be responsible for. Teachers can adapt tests to fairly assess what ELLs. There is no point in their memorizing a list of spelling words, for example, if they do not understand what the words mean.

How to memorize material effectively

ELLS need to learn to space study sessions so that they are not overwhelmed by the language demands and the content material to be mastered at the same time. They will be more apt to remember material if it is studied over several days (or weeks) rather than in a single session. Here are some "tricks" to help memorization.

8. Categories: Have students learn how to group items into categories in order to memorize them. If they have a long list of things to memorize, show them how to group similar items together.
9. Key words: To learn this list of reasons why an event in history occurred, show students how to pick out a key word for each reason and then learn just the key words.
10. Teach students mnemonic devices. These can be short rhymes or poems to help students remember lists or facts. Remember that mnemonic devices can also be visual or kinestetic. I recommend Flocabulary's list of rhymes. http://www.flocabulary.com/why.html

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