A Balanced ESL Classroom

In your ESL classroom you need to have balance. There are four necessary areas that we need to be addressing everyday - reading, writing, listening and speaking. These four areas are essential components in the ESL students mastery of English. You can incorporate all four skills into one activity - the Read Aloud.

Every period there should be a Read Aloud. A Read Aloud is a piece of literature that is read out loud to the students. You can read picture books, comics, articles, poetry, etc. Choose something that will be interesting for your group of students and something that is a little higher than their reading level. Since you will be reading the story to them you can help them understand what is going on.

While reading, the teacher needs to model good reading strategies. For example, when you come to a difficult word stop and sound it out. During the read aloud the students are practicing listening. Stop in the middle of reading and ask students to turn and talk to the person sitting next to them, talk about what you think will happen next. This allows each student time to practice speaking in a non-threating environment. Read a few more pages stop and ask the students to write down what has happened in the story so far. This gives students a chance to practice writing.

Once you are finished with the read aloud you can send students back to their seats to read their own book and practice one of the skills you modeled during the read aloud (skills - retell, prediction, make a connection, compare and contrast). This time, of course, will give students practice reading.

As much as you can incorporate these four skills into your daily routine. Try to avoid spending a whole period on writing or a whole period on reading. Make the class an interactive approach to learning English through these four skills - reading, writing, speaking and listening.