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:
Free online component: Teacher's Manual for "A Beginning Look at Canada"
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.
Canada Day! This website holds a collection of links for ESL students around the topic of Canada.
Canada! This link takes you to a collection of worksheets on the topic of Canada--maps, flashcards, etc.
- Preparing an Engaging Social Studies Lesson for English Language Learners, by Kristina Robertson
This article will describe some strategies for planning social studies lessons with ELLs in mind, with a particular emphasis on building background knowledge.
- Modifications for ELL Students in Social Studies
In this lesson, teachers will learn some strategies for accommodating English Language Learner (ELL) students in the content area of social studies. The lesson will discuss ways to modify instruction to target the learning needs of ELL students.
- Eight Ways to Use Video With English-Language Learners
"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
http://www.ureachtoronto.com/content/cultural-profiles (or google: Cultural profiles)
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
Family photos from around the world with the food they eat in one week: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/what-the-world-eats
Children from around the world & their bedrooms: http://www.jamesmollison.com/wherechildrensleep.php?project_id=6&p=3
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
- Thousands of natural examples bring English to life
- British and American pronunciations of headwords, including people and place names
- Thousands of spoken example sentences with audio
- Clear definitions written using only 2000 common words
- Signposts guide you to the right meaning, fast!
Quick and easy to use with clear definitions written using only 2000 common words
English Vocabulary for Social Studies, History & Geography - SS terms in alphabetical order with definitions
Vocabulary: Quizlet https://quizlet.com/latest
- Find any subject—basic and content specific!
- Search for your subject and find great content
- Many sets have visuals
- Beginning vocab: sets already created by teachers: colours, food, alphabet…
- Creates flashcards
- Games for spelling and vocab practice
- You need to sign up—but it’s free!
Vocabulary Development and Concept Graphic Organizers
- The vocabulary graphic organizers are PDF files.
Thinkport Technology Graphic Organizers
- 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:
- The English Express is an Alberta newspaper for adults who are improving their English reading skills. Children and youth enjoy reading the newspaper articles too. On this website, you can read, print, and listen to articles with photos on your computer screen (some videos, too). Word games & stories from readers, as well. Teacher notes & comprehension activities available for the articles.
- Provides world news for students at level 1, level 2 and level 3. Key vocabulary is emphasized and defined.
Every story is accompanied by audio and video.
- Students may read, listen, write and even speak to other students about the stories they read.
- A personalized reading service designed to help students in grades 3 to 12 master non-fiction literacy
Provides daily news articles at five reading levels.
- A quiz accompanies most articles.
- You must create a free account to access full text articles.