In addition to being the number one (1) studied language in the world, English is one of the most flexible, influential, inconsistent, and resilient languages. As a worldwide language with many geographical variations, English influences and some may say, dominates, the international market. It is also a precious asset allocation and status symbol that continues to multiply. Used for business, the Internet and in academia, increasingly, its power in the world of music and nance is global.

As a European language, English muscle and the need for its mastery (speaking, reading, writing, listening/comprehending) are monumentally favoured and often expected. It is the lingua franca. Teaching and learning English is not for the faint-hearted. It requires vision and vigilance. It also requires an academic and assertive arsenal of instinct, ideas and implementation.

How can we help students to develop and eventually master English?

English Language Developmental Strategies, begin with purpose and intent. It is primary that we know:

  • Why is English being taught? Why is it important that the students learn?
  • Are the language learners interested in learning?
  • How will the students use the language?
  • Is the student’s motivation intrinsic, extrinsic or both?
  • What are our meaningful language goals for the lesson/semester? What are our preferred outcomes? What should the students be able to do in the language by the end of the class?
  • What evidence is used to show they have met the teacher’s objectives for listening, speaking, reading and writing?
  • How authentic are the assessments?

Once there is a clear understanding of and an answer to these queries, the following developmental strategies can be designed and aligned.

Use Backward Design for effective instruction. Backward design means to begin with the END in mind. This includes:

• Speaking clearly and identifying desired results.

• Determining acceptable evidence.

• Planning learning experiences and instruction.

• Determining meaningful assessments and when they should begin:

Educator’s Classroom Engagement should include:

• Using English 95-100% of the class period.

• Speak aloud and model the language (including the seemingly tertiary: “Now where did I put my pen?”)

• Scaffold the language so that, it is comprehensible to pupils.

• Extremely limit use of translation.

• Use authentic materials for teaching.

• Create and use personalized language.

• Incorporate students’ interests in the materials.

• Use fluency passages that teach a subject of interest – move beyond their zone of proximal development (ZPD). (See Lev Vygotsky, 1896 – 1934).

• Create conversational fluency passages using previously learned vocabulary. These may be written by the students/teacher.

• Phonics should be taught creatively by using a lot of animation, pictures, chunking, sequencing and it should be multi-sensory.

Create opportunities for meaningful, descriptive and extended language. Establish corresponding assessments.

This includes:

• Contextualization.
• Personalization.
• Reader’s Theater.
• Poetry/song and discussion.

  • Chunked or sentence length (e.g. a telephone conversation; writing an email to a friend).

• Include a mix of acquired, but not memorized vocabulary centered on a directive or query (e.g. Offering directions from school to a mall).

• Interpersonal activities between classmates.

• Descriptions of objects in hand, on screen and/or visualized.

• Allow each student to have a “speaking” job in class. (E.g. roll call; reading the date, etc.)

• Guided, imaginative, but not memorized presentations.

• Ensure opportunities for ALL students to speak in class.

• Create open-ended conversational prompts.

• Use correct English.

• Design on-going assessments, criteria and rubrics.

• Select pupil presentation groups. Decide the contextualized setting.

• Allow students to assess their peers and themselves.

Remember, when you teach from your heart (teaching the child and not solely the curriculum), you move, beyond a holistic connectedness to an indescribable, inimitable human connection.

By Lisa Fatimah

As an Orton-Gillingham trained Learning Specialist, Lisa-Fátimah specializes in designing multisensory English and Spanish language development lessons, modi cations and assessments for traditional and Dyslexic students. Her radio shows highlight the primacy of girls’ education, bilingualism and world language acquisition for a global audience. Email: