English Learners


English Learners make up a diverse group of people. They represent different cultures, languages, and levels of English proficiency. i‑Ready Online Instruction is proven to accelerate learning gains for English Learners, as it incorporates many language development best practices. To support English Learners with i‑Ready:

For more information, review the additional tips and tools outlined below. Download this Kit: Using i-Ready with English Learners for a printer-friendly version.

In a hurry? Here are three key resources to help get you started:

Tips for Using i-Ready with English Learners

The tips and resources below will help you use i-Ready strategically with your English Learners.

Analyze Student Data with English Learners’ Needs in Mind

i-Ready reports provide robust data about individual students’ areas of strength and areas for growth. It’s critical that you analyze this data to understand student needs, particularly those of English Learners. English Learners can demonstrate high proficiency in certain content areas, such as mathematics, while they are still learning the English language. It’s important to pay close attention to Foundational Skills in Reading, as research shows that long-term English Learners need additional instruction in this area. Use individual and small group instruction to address students’ areas for growth while continuing to build upon their strengths and grade-level content knowledge.


Set Goals and Discuss Progress with English Learners

It’s important that English Learners set both language development and content-specific goals for themselves. Involve students in the process and teach them how to track data on their progress. Revisit and update goals regularly throughout the school year so students get into the habit of recognizing their own growth and moving their goals forward as they do so.


Leverage Online Instruction

i-Ready Online Instruction meets students where they are to provide appropriate support. For English Learners, this means that many students will receive direct instruction around foundational literacy skills, such as phonics and word recognition. As students gain this knowledge, teachers can continue to build foundational skills and grade-level understanding of core concepts during whole group and small group instruction. Make time in your schedule so students can participate in 45 minutes of Online Instruction every week and monitor and respond to student progress regularly.


Continually Recognize and Celebrate Growth

Acquiring a new language can be difficult, especially as students are also learning new content in a language that’s unfamiliar to them. Celebrating growth with individual students, as a class, and with families is a powerful way to nurture persistence. Data from i‑Ready helps motivate students by showing them their progress on content that is at their level. Consider asking students how they want to be celebrated and let this inform your incentive system, particularly in classroom environments where English Learners and English-speaking students are working together.


Prioritize Instructional Best Practices That Support English Learners

Use language development strategies and strategic scaffolds during instruction to support the academic growth of English Learners.

Plan for Identity-Affirming Experiences and Incorporate Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Students are empowered when they see themselves in the material they’re studying and when they feel connected to their learning environment. This is of particular benefit to English Learners who can sometimes feel disconnected from their English-only classrooms. Facilitate activities in which students make personal connections to the content, acknowledge different means of expression, such as drawings and verbal explanations, and create a classroom environment where student differences are understood and celebrated.

Support Vocabulary Development

All students are academic English Learners and benefit from targeted vocabulary instruction. Define high-utility words in context as they appear in lessons, encourage students to make their own meaning of words through visual representations and analogies, and have students practice using vocabulary words in discussion and written form. Consider creating an interactive word wall in which unit vocabulary is displayed and students are incentivized to use those words on a regular basis. Maintaining a language journal also helps students track vocabulary, reading, writing, and discussion strategies they can use across classes. Encourage students to use cognates as a strategic scaffold when appropriate.


Provide Visual Supports

English Learners benefit a great deal from visual cues and supports during instruction. Pairing visual aids with written and spoken instruction makes content comprehensible for students who are still acquiring English. Consider incorporating photos, videos, cartoons, and pictures to help illustrate meaning.

Allow Multiple Opportunities for Discussion

Incorporating discussion opportunities into instruction benefits all students. It encourages higher-order thinking and reasoning as students work to explain themselves. English Learners need to hear and practice the English language in authentic ways. It’s important to provide models and structures for their language practice to ensure it’s purposeful and correct. Provide students with sentence frames and sentence starters, plan cooperative activities, and help students organize their thinking with graphic organizers. For certain activities, it’s important to organize students into mixed-ability groups so English Learners can hear language models from their peers. Also consider defining what good conversation looks and sounds like, along with your behavior expectations for whole class and partner discussions.

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