Anyone who has been around children who are learning to talk knows that the process happens in stages—first understanding, then one-word utterances, then two-word phrases, and so on. Students learning a second language move through five predictable stages: Preproduction, Early Production, Speech Emergence, Intermediate Fluency, and Advanced Fluency (Krashen & Terrell, 1983). How quickly students progress through the stages depends on many factors, including level of formal education, family background, and length of time spent in the country.
It is important that you tie instruction for each student to his or her particular stage of language acquisition.
We can support students by giving them the means to communicate. Initially, it is their basic needs (washroom, drinking water, quiet space) but it should grow to encompass their emotional needs as well. As educators, we need to provide the supports in order for these students to demonstrate how they are feeling and to give them the tools to manage their relationships with those around them.
Modelling effective communication and teaching about healthy relationships is important with ELLs. Show students how to use ‘I messages’, give compliments and practice often. Good friends Do, Good Friends Don’t
Practice encompasses practicing positive social-emotional behaviours like showing gratitude and working on conflict resolution through role playing. But it also includes practices such as yoga and mindful moments, such as sit spots.