see also LANGUAGE TRANSFER ISSUES for English Learners


2012 WIDA Focus Bulletins: Differentiation for ELLs

Focus on Differentiation Part 1external image pdf.gif(May)
This Bulletin provides a useful planning template and step-by-step explanations of how teachers (classroom/content-area, special education, literacy, ESL, bilingual) can differentiate their grade-level content and language instruction and assessment for the ELLs in their classes. Part I focuses on setting content objectives for all students along with differentiated language objectives for ELLs, and explores possible scaffolds and supports for different example students within the context of a particular unit on rainforests.
Focus on Differentiation Part 2 external image pdf.gif(December)
Part 2 of this Bulletin discusses in more detail how the strategies and tools identified for teaching ELLs in Part 1 can be put into practice. Some of these ideas include the use of graphic organizers, the preview-view-review strategy, parental involvement, L1 support, and flexible groupings. Lastly, this Bulletin addresses how educators can fairly evaluate ELLs' performance in both content and language based on the learning objectives identified in Part 1.


Compound words:

If students are native speakers of Vietnamese, Hmong, or Cantonese, Then they will need extra help to understand the concept of compound words. Such words do not exist in their native languages.

Phonemic awareness:

If students are native speakers of Spanish, Tagalog (Filipino), or some other languages, then, they may have trouble hearing & producing the contrast between the different oo sounds. /ō ō / (food & spoon) spelled oo and /oo/(hood & look) spelled oo

Cause & effect relationships:

Teach students to use the linguistic pattern in the following sentence to describe events in their daily lives: “I was late because I missed the bus.”

Sequence words:

Use a set of pictures that shows sequence as you describe using simple order words such as first, next, last, before, and after.


If students are confused by idioms in a selection (such as, “it’s a deal!”), explain what the idiom means (such as, “2 or more people have made an agreement”)

Using the apostrophe & ‘s’ to show possession:

If students are native Spanish speakers, then they may be confused by the use of the apostrophe and ‘s’ to show possession because this construction does not exist in Spanish. Explain to students that ‘s serves the same purpose as the preposition de in Spanish.

Imagine It Teachers' Guides
Hampton-Brown: Language Transfer Issues
CMS: On Speaking Terms--A Practical Guide to Pronunciation