Elementary Science

English Language Learners in the elementary Science classroom

Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:23 AM

Hello! I was wondering if you guys had tips/advice on how to accommodate science lessons for ELL students? 

Hilda Sanchez
Hilda Sanchez
200 Activity Points

Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:52 AM

Hi Hilda,

The Learning Center Online Advisors created a collection titled ELLs in the SCIENCE CLASSROOM Collection that may be helpful. It includes many journal articles with strategies and accommodations to include in your classroom to support ELL students. Check it out here:


I wonder if there are any current teachers with ELL students that can shed some light on strategies or tips that have been effective in their own classrooms? Reply or post below to share!


Megan Doty
Megan Doty
6822 Activity Points

Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:38 PM


Science always seems like it is the best and easiest way to get everyone involved--especially because no matter what language we speak, there is at least a little bit of curiosity within all of us. That said, science may be just the key to enhancing an ELL's vocabulary as science is most likely hands-on and experiential, allowing for better memory. Have you been incorporating science into other subjects at all? Or used different outlets to get your message and terms across to your students? I have a few things in mind that might be helpful, though you might be implementing them already!

First of all, I would say use pictures! A dog to native English speakers is a dog to a non-native English speaker, even if we call a dog two different names. If you were teaching, for example, the life cycle, you could have pictures of the parts of the cycle and use repetitive vocabulary throughout to integrate vocabulary into your science lesson.

One thing I would add is use actions! Like pictures, actions and movement allow students to tap into other parts of their multiple intelligences and gives them another outlet for expressing what they're saying when they may not have a word for it. ELL's can greatly benefit from this as they can associate an action with a word to help them remember terms, sequences, and cycles.

Of course, science is a great outlet for hands-on activities in teaching. A difficulty with ELL's could be the collaboration with their classmates. That said, it is a way for them to express what they know by showing rather than simply telling you with words.

I hope some of these things were helpful and can allow you to have some fun with the students!


Caria Philgreen
Caria Philgreen
50 Activity Points

Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:12 AM

I was an ELL growing up and am currently doing an internship with some ELLs in my classroom. My advice to help implement more science words for your lesson would be to give them vocabulary words to take home, and study. You can also try giving them quizzes in class, so they can all review.

Another thing you can do that can help is play games occasionally. An idea for a game would be to make a circle in the classroom, have them pass a ball around but to pass it they have to say a scientific word. The teacher can participate if they would like.

If. you have any questions or concerns let me know!


Juanny Posada
Juanny Posada
135 Activity Points

Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:33 PM


I really like your ideas for better assisting ELL students. It is very important for English-language learners to get plenty of practice just saying the words aloud. Because of this, I like how you mentioned the idea of playing a simple game to practice scientific words. You mentioned that the teacher can participate if they would like, but I think it is very important that the teacher includes herself in the game. Not only would the game be fun, but something small like that would also help her build relationships with all of her students, but more importantly her English-language learning students. Are there any other fun ways/activities you can think of to help ELL students in science?

Jillian Haberichter
Jillian Haberichter
3038 Activity Points

Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:36 PM

Thanks for your thoughtful and informative ideas to involve ELL students with science. I am a preservice teacher currently in a science methods course and we have been discussing the importance of involvement and inclusion of ELL students the classroom. Involving, connecting and accommodating ELL students for all content areas is crucial as well. Caria, I love your idea of the use of pictures and actions, this truly is a smart idea and can help students make connections. In many of my methods courses here at my university I am attending we have been talking about the use of pictures and how helpful they can be for students. Even with pictures being taken of students in action and learning around the classroom (obviously with parent permission)...students can see themselves in action, look at the pictures of themselves and explain what is occurring in the picture. I did not have much background knowledge and comfort with working with ELL students, but many of my methods courses have taught me so much recently! Thank you for this post, it made me reassure myself the importance of using actions and pictures when working with ELL students.


Julie Bentley
Julie Bentley
4010 Activity Points

Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:56 PM

Science offers many different ways to accommodate to ELL students within the classroom. For starters, science has made the push to focus on concepts, methods, and processes rather than harping on terminology. The shifted focus should be advantageous for ELL students because rather than focusing on vocabulary and the ability to regurgitate words to show their understanding, the students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge through specific processes, concepts, and methods. The hands-on activities of science and inquiry-based learning should also add some comfort to the ELL students. As stated in previous comments, I love the idea of using pictures and videos to connect the students to the content. This can also be beneficial for visual learners to build connections. Overall, each student is unique in their own ways and it is the teacher's duty to best accommodate to the students' needs and strengths/weaknesses. Differentiated instruction along with understanding each student can be crucial to ELL students and every student's success in the classroom.

Kevin Wahl
Kevin Wahl
765 Activity Points

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