Research-Based “Generic” Modifications for ELLs

This post has been copied from The Missouri EBI Network’s ELL page ( It is a summary of “generic” modifications that can be used by any teacher in any classroom, all of which are based on research to best assist English language learners.

Research-Based “Generic” Modifications Using Only English

 Predictable and consistent classroom management routines, aided by diagrams, lists, and easy-to-read schedules on the board or on charts, to which the teacher refers frequently.

 Graphic organizers that make content and the relationships among concepts and different lesson elements visually explicit.

 Additional opportunities for practice during the school day, after school, or for homework.

 Redundant key information (e.g., visual cues, pictures, and physical gestures) about lesson content and classroom procedures.

 Identifying, highlighting, and clarifying difficult words and passages within texts to facilitate comprehension and, more generally, greatly emphasizing vocabulary development.

 Helping students consolidate text knowledge by having the teacher, other students, and ELLs themselves summarize and paraphrase.

 Giving students extra practice in reading words, sentences, and stories to build automaticity and fluency.

 Providing opportunities for extended interactions with teacher and peers.

 Adjusting instruction (teacher vocabulary, rate of speech, sentence complexity, and expectations for student language production) according to students’ oral English proficiency.

 Targeting both content and English language objectives in every lesson.

 Use of reading materials that take into account students’ personal experiences, including relevant aspects of their cultural background, which aids their reading comprehension (although proficiency in the language of the text has a stronger influence on comprehension than familiarity with passage content).

Source: Goldenberg, C. (2010). Improving achievement for English learners: Conclusions from recent reviews and emerging research. In Li, G. & Edwards, P. A. (Eds.). Best Practices in ELL Instruction (15-43). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.


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