A well-organised elementary school or classroom can communicate a positive learning experience to your ESL students. Elementary students entering a new learning environment as ESL students will find helpful messages on notice boards to be welcoming. In your elementary school, use notice boards to help your ESL students learn the titles of important people, learn how to use maps and learn specific content vocabulary that will make their school year more successful.
Create a who's who ESL notice board to introduce teachers and staff to your new ESL students. Enlarge school pictures from old yearbooks, or make snapshots of all the teachers and staff important in running your elementary school. Mount the pictures on coloured paper, and attach a short biography of each person. Give the titles of each person in the major languages spoken in your school to help your ESL students learn these people's roles quickly. Important people they should know are the school secretary, nurse, counsellor, librarian, coaches, art teachers, music teachers and P.E. teachers, plus the principal and vice-principal. Include anybody that the students would need to address on an occasional basis and might not have a personal introduction to. If room allows, also attach a fun fact about each person, such as a favourite pet or hobby, so that the students will feel that they know something interesting about all these important people.
Include an FYI notice board to give your ESL students a place to find information that they do not feel comfortable asking or do not yet possess the language skills to ask. Include the title, “For Your Information,” in the major languages spoken in your school to help your ESL students find the board easily. Mount on your ESL notice board a large site map with all rooms clearly marked. Include a red star to note the location of the notice board relative to the rest of the school. If your school uses room numbers instead of room names, attach a legend that explains each room's purpose. Take time with your ESL students to practice finding rooms on the map so that they feel comfortable using the resource to help them learn their way around. Also, your FYI notice board can keep a record of any oral announcements that might need explaining to your ESL students.
Words to Know
Help your ESL students gain a clearer picture of what they need to learn in content areas such as math, social science, history, art music and P.E. by making a content vocabulary notice board. Start by creating a large spider web with a blank circle in the middle. Place a content subject in the circle, and attach words relating to that subject around the spider web. Some content areas relate to others, especially in performing arts or research topics. Include words that require the students to do some action for each subject such as research, examine and explain. If your ESL students struggle with the vocabulary for a certain subject, consider creating a notice board for each topic to change out during the year to encourage enthusiasm for each subject they study.