Effective Learning Strategies for ELL Students







5 W Chart

A graphic organizer that helps students organize their thoughts by asking these questions: who, what, where, when, why. Useful to prepare for writing or speaking assignment.

Ask and Answer Questions

Asking and answering questions helps students understand what they read or hear, interpret ideas, and think more deeply about their learning.


An online diary or personal log of thoughts and opinions; short for web log.


Students think of ideas and ways to solve problems, often with a group of people. Examples: think of ideas for a story, think of ways to solve a math problem.

Break It Down

Divide something into smaller parts to help students understand an idea, information, or a problem.

Cause and Effect Chart

Helps analyze a cause (tells about an event  or an action) and an effect (tells about what happens as a result of the event or action)


Words or phrases with a rhythm and pattern that students repeat again and again. Chants help students learn letter sounds, new words and grammar development.


Grouping words, concepts, physical objects, numbers, or quantities according to their attributes; constructing graphic organizers to show classifications.


An exercise in which every nth word is replaced with a blank to fill in, such as a synonym for the word war is _____.

Context Sentences

Context sentences gives clues for the meaning of a word in the sentence. Example: The stars glittered like diamonds in the night sky.

Connect Learning to Life

Connecting what students are trying to learn to their own experiences or to practical applications will make learning more meaningful.

Cooperative Learning

Student will develop both linguistic and academic skills at the same time. Process of students working collaboratively in groups to accomplish a goal, with each student having an assigned role. The result is a reflection of how the group works together, and an academic assessment tool for the teacher.


Students can use drawing to help understand and remember new words, grammar, concepts and other aspects of English.

Environmental Print

Written words seen in everyday life, such as words on street signs, billboards, websites, menus, and posters in the classroom.

Graphic Organizer

Visual representation or diagram that helps students organize information and ideas. This supports students as they construct meaning for reading, writing, listening, and speaking.


Students know the meaning of a word so well that they can use it easily when speaking or writing.


Using the context of an oral or written text and your own knowledge to guess meanings of unfamiliar words or ideas.


A personal written record of events, observations, or thoughts. Journals help students write informally about what they learn and their experiences. Some journals are shared or written interactively.


A written record to help students keep track of their learning experiences and skills.


To study something until you remember it and know it well.

Main Idea an Supporting Details: Summarize

Main idea is the most important idea about text or story. Supporting details explain or give more information about the main idea. Understanding the main idea and supporting details helps students summarize stories, information, and ideas.

Make Predictions

A prereading strategy in which students tell what they think will happen in a text, then confirm their predictions after they read.


A type of graphic organizer that shows the relationships among ideas.

Monitoring Comprehension

Being aware of how well a task is going, how well you understand a topic while listening or reading, or how well you are expressing your ideas when writing or speaking.


A list that shows the main parts of a report, essay, or other document to help students organize their thoughts to write.

Organizational Planning

Setting a learning goal; planning how to carry out a project, write a story, or solve a problem.

Prior Knowledge and Experience

Students use what they already know, have learned, or have experienced in the past to learn about something new.


Using authentic objects or manipulatives help students learn new words and understand  .

Sensory Details

Descriptive words that communicate what students experience or learn through their five senses: see, hear, feel, smell, taste. Sensory details make descriptive writing more vivid.


Organize ideas, actions, or events in a specific order or in a series of  steps.


Seeking or arranging the conditions that help you learn.

Self- evaluation

After completing a task, judging how well you did, whether you reached your goal, and how effective your learning strategies or problem-solving procedures were.

Shared Reading

The teacher models reading a text and shows students how to use  reading strategies.  Example: The teacher previews the text and makes predictions, reads aloud the text, steps to explain new words, and pauses to ask students comprehension questions.

Take Notes

Learning how to write notes about the most important ideas and details as students read or listen helps them understand and remember.  Cornell  Notes is a systematic way to take notes  about main ideas and details.


A type of graphic organizer in which students can list two sides of a topic, issue, or situation.

Think- Pair- Share

A strategy in which a student thinks about a question or a problem on his or her own. Then he or she works with a partner to exchange ideas, and the pair shares ideas with the class. This strategy helps student's develop their own ideas and build on ideas that were shared by their partner.

Using/ Making Rules

Applying a rule (phonics, decoding, and grammar, linguistic, mathematical, scientific, and so on) to understand a text or complete a task; figuring out rules or patterns from examples.

Using Resources

Using reference materials (books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, videos, performances, computer programs and databases, the Internet) to find information or complete a task.

Use Words You Know

Students use words they already know to help define new words (accessible words) or to define or describe something when they don’t know (or want to say) the exact word for it (circumlocution).

Venn Diagram

A type of graphic organizer using two intersecting circles that helps students compare and contrast two ideas, characters, or situations.


Create mental images based on a reading. When students read a story with clearly described characters, they can picture in their minds how they characters may look, sound, and act. Visualizing images helps students understand the text and stay interested.



 Adapted Every Teacher's Toolkit Closing the Achievement Gap for English Learners.