6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners (TESOL)

  • Principle 1 - Know Your Learners

    Exemplary teachers learn basic information about their students' families, cultures, and educational backgrounds to engage them in class and prepare and deliver lessons more effectively.

    Teachers can best adapt instruction to students that they know well. Learn about your students' cultures and experiences. Use that background as a resource for classroom learning and to stock classroom libraries and plan projects.

    Principle 2 - Create Conditions for Language Learning

    Exemplary teachers create a classroom culture so that students feel comfortable. They make decisions regarding the physical environment, the materials, and the social integration of students to promote language learning.

    Student achievement is affected by teacher expectations of success. Hold high expectations for your learners and motivate them to raise their performance. Use a variety of instructional approaches to appeal to diverse learners. Teach students strategies to actively participate in academic conversations. 

    Principle 3 - Design High-Quality Lessons for Language Development

    Exemplary teachers plan lessons that are meaningful for students and promote language learning. These lessons evolve from Language and content learning objectives.

    Teachers provide input through varied techniques and modalities. Engage your learners and practice authentic language. Help them develop learning strategies and critical thinking skills. Use gestures, visuals, demonstrations, embedded definitions, audio supports, and bilingual glossaries to make information comprehensible. Elicit output from your students, too.

    Principle 4 - Adapt Lesson Delivery as Needed

    Exemplary teachers continually assess as they teach - observing and reflecting on learners' responses to determine if students are reaching lesson objectives. If students struggle or are not challenged enough, teachers adjust their lessons - reteaching or enhancing the tasks accordingly. This decision making may occur on any day and sometimes you will need to make decisions within seconds.

    Teachers may adjust their talk, the task, or the materials according to learner response. Modify your oral language to simplify an utterance, define terms, or provide more wait time. Check student comprehension with group response techniques like thumbs up/thumbs down and handheld clicker devices.

    Principle 5 - Monitor and Assess Student language Development

    Because students learn at different rates, exemplary teachers regularly monitor and assess their language development to advance their learning efficiently and measure language growth. They design a variety of classroom assessments to evaluate student learning and inform their instruction. 

    Teachers take note of errors to provide appropriate feedback to students but also to make sure it suits the age and language development level of the students. Give feedback in a timely manner. Prompt students to self-repair or explicitly correct a learner.  Record observations about language use in running notes, on a checklist or with a rubric.

    Principle 6 - Engage and Collaborate Within a Community of Practice

    Exemplary teachers collaborate with others in the profession to provide the best support for their learners. They meet with colleagues to co-plan and share their expertise about second language acquisition as well as instructional techniques for students at different levels of proficiency.

    Teachers participate in continuous learning and ongoing professional development. Reflect critically on your classroom practices. Join a professional English teaching organization like TESOL, attend conferences, and participate in online learning opportunities.  Develop leadership skills so you can be a resource at school and help design programs, interpret assessment results, offer professional development workshops, or act as a peer coach to a colleague.