Supporting English Language Learners in Social Studies
Social Studies is often called the most challenging school subject by our ELLs. Lack of vocabulary and background knowledge can make it difficult, but there are students who will tell you it's their favourite subject. This month's resources may help teachers support ELLs in this important area!
Building Background Knowledge on Canada:
A Beginning Look at Canada, 3rd edition (2010), by Anne-Marie Kaskens
A Beginning Look at Canada is a text for post-literacy to high-beginner ESL students who wish to learn about Canada while improving their reading skills. It is also useful for students in the secondary school system and as a supplementary text for adults preparing for Canadian citizenship.
Seventy readings describe fundamental facts and concepts of Canada's geography, history, people, and government in an easy-to-understand, sequenced format. Each reading is accompanied by several exercises to check comprehension and to develop reading skills such as skimming and scanning for information, categorizing, and reading charts and maps.
"I like the way you use videos with us -- you get us moving, talking, writing and speaking. The problem is you make us think too much."
-- "John," one of our English-Language Learner students
Learn More about the Families’ Culture: Sites for Staff & Students
Each cultural profile provides an overview of life and customs in the profiled country. While the profile provides insight into some customs, it does not cover all facets of life in equal measure to all newcomers from the profiled country.
Get information, facts, photos, and more in these country guides from National Geographic.(or google: national film board across cultures)
120 cut films from the NFB relating to immigrants’ experiences. Most are documentaries (60 in English, 60 in French). All films are on-line, free of charge & vary in length from 3 to 83 minutes (many under 30 minutes). Excerpts are also provided. Designed for use in high schools, very interesting and provide information about immigrants.
Social Studies/Multicultural Interest
Social Studies Terms (Vocabulary Development):
The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (online) is an excellent dictionary for ELLs (and nonELLs!) and is helpful across the curriculum--but is an especially good resource when dealing with Social Studies vocabulary:
Your link to living language
English Vocabulary for Social Studies, History & Geography - SS terms in alphabetical order with definitions
The vocabulary graphic organizers are PDF files.
A great activity to do with a Social Studies text book…
"Hey I never ever heard of this scroll stuff before. But I can tell you some stuff... it really works. I never ever looked at a book like this. I actually learned something. The titles and sub titles and those other lower supporting stuff is important and you can see that when you the lay the whole thing out. Not just turning page to page. I am in charge of this book.... You got to know I am not afrade of no textbook now that I have rolled a scroll. I can break it up in parts and I can read and make some sense of it." - College Student, Developmental Reading Program, Los Angeles County, CA
Websites for Reading & Developing Background Information: