Preventing the Summer Slide: Engaging ELL Students Beyond Workbooks

ESL summer learning

How can we prevent the summer slide with our English language learners?

Welcome back to the Equipping ELLs podcast! In episode 129, we dive into a critical issue that affects many of our students over the summer break—the summer slide. We want to share with you innovative strategies to keep our ELLs engaged and learning throughout the summer. Forget the usual workbook routine; we’re exploring vibrant, real-world solutions that go beyond the basics. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll learn in this episode.

Understanding the Summer Slide

The summer slide refers to the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year over the summer break. For ELL students, this can mean a significant regression in language acquisition, which is something we definitely want to prevent. While workbooks are a common go-to, they’re not our only tool. Let’s delve into some alternative, dynamic solutions that can make a real difference.

Community Engagement

First, explore your local community. Engaging with community events can be a fantastic way for ELLs to practice language skills in a real-world setting. Think about libraries that host summer reading programs, cultural festivals, and community center classes. These activities not only help in language development but also in building a sense of community and cultural understanding. Teachers, consider researching local opportunities and sharing this information with your students’ families. A simple list of events and activities, translated into their native language, can open doors for continued learning and connection.

Summer School Programs

Next, let’s talk about summer school programs. Many districts offer a mix of learning and fun activities during the summer, which keeps students engaged and excited about learning. These programs provide a structured yet relaxed environment where ELLs can practice English and make new friends. Ensure that parents know about these opportunities, including how to apply, transportation availability, etc. so they can make informed decisions about their children’s summer activities.

Leveraging Technology

Technology plays a pivotal role in keeping ELLs engaged over the summer. There are several language learning apps, such as Duolingo, Duolingo ABC, and BBC Learning English, which are user-friendly and effective. Encourage parents to set these up on their devices at home to provide an enjoyable way for their children to practice English, even on the go.

Encouraging Reading

Reading at home is crucial and can be done in any language. Encouraging students to read in their native language fosters a love for reading and maintains literacy skills, which indirectly supports English language learning. Suggest that parents read together with their children, share stories, or visit the local library to check out books in their native language.

Utilizing English Media

Finally, mix in some English media. Guided viewing of educational English TV shows, YouTube channels, or even video games can be very beneficial. The key is to ensure the content is appropriate and educational. Channels like SciShow Kids, Mark Rober, Khan Academy Kids, Storyline Online, Blippi, and National Geographic Kids offer valuable content that combines learning with fun. Watching or playing together can enhance understanding and language use.

By making learning interactive, engaging, and part of everyday life, we can help our students continue to grow and thrive. For more tips and resources, check out the links in our episode description. Don’t forget to share your own experiences and suggestions on our social media pages—we love hearing from you!

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We all know that teaching isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be this hard. Equipping ELLs is a podcast for both ESL specialists and homeroom teachers who are looking for effective and engaging ways to support their English Language Learners without adding to their endless to-do list. Tune in each week to hear tips, strategies, and inspirational stories that will empower you to better reach your ELL students, equip them with life-long skills, and strengthen relationships with colleagues and parents.

Your host, Beth Vaucher, is the founder of Inspiring Young Learners. She is an ESL certified homeroom teacher with over 10 years of experience teaching in the US and internationally. Her background of M.Ed in ESL and Curriculum and Instruction combined with her experience has led her to develop a bestselling newcomer curriculum that has sold in over 90 countries around the globe. She brings a different perspective to teaching ELLs from her years teaching and living abroad and working with ELLs from around the world. You will walk away from each episode with the ideas and tools you need to transform your experience as a teacher and cultivate a thriving and welcoming environment for your ELL students.



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