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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.


Teachers scaffold a student’s learning in order to help them achieve. For an English language learner this will include scaffolding to support a student’s curriculum learning goals and their use of the English language.

Teachers should know why they are selecting a particular strategy, determine where in their teaching and learning cycle it is best used and reflect on whether its use has been effective or not. At all times the ESOL principles and their knowledge of the student should guide the planning, teaching and task sequencing process.

Strategies used in a co-operative setting provide greater opportunities for the students to notice and use language.

ESOL Vocabulary Strategies:

Before and after vocabulary grids: Principles 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 Loopy: Principles 5 and 6
Building vocabulary knowledge with bilingual flash cards: Principles 1 and 5 Matching exercises: Principles 1, 3, 5 and 6
Clarifying unfamiliar words: Principles 2 and 3 Picture matching (or Matching word and definition): Principles 4, 5 and 6
Clines: Principles 3, 4 and 5 Structured overview: Principles 3, 4, 5 and 6
Collaborative crosswords: Principles 3, 5 and 6 Summarising: Principles 2, 4 and 6
Collocation: Principles 3, 4 and 5 Venn diagrams: Principles 1, 3 and 5
Concept circle: Principles 2, 5 and 7 Vocabulary jumble: Principles 1, 3, 5 and 6
Concept map: Principles 1, 3 and 5 Vocabulary revision activities: Principles 1, 3, 5 and 6
Concept star: Principles 1, 3 and 5 Walking words: Principles 1, 3, 5 and 6
Disappearing definition or Vanishing cloze: Principles 2, 5 and 6 Whispering game: Principles 5 and 6
Dominoes: Principles 1 and 5 Word clusters/maps: Principles 1, 3, 5 and 6
Learning vocabulary: Principles 2 and 5 Word grids: Principles 1 and 5

Teaching approaches and strategies: contains full descriptions of each strategy.

Key vocabulary resources:

  • Supporting English Language Learning in Primary Schools: this resource gives suggestions for developing students’ academic, cross-curricular English language in both mainstream and transitional classes. SELLIPS is intended for all teachers of students in years 1–8.
  • Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8: Expanding students’ vocabulary: This text outlines the teacher’s role in expanding students’ personal vocabularies.
  • Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9–13: Chapter 2: Vocabulary: this resource focuses on the strategies that teachers and learners can use to solve new vocabulary and to discover and reinforce the meanings of the words and terms they encounter in the various subject areas.
  • English Language Learning Progressions explain what ESOL specialists and mainstream teachers need to know about English language learners. They will help teachers to choose content, vocabulary, and tasks that are appropriate to each learner's age, stage, and language-learning needs.
  • Teaching Reading Comprehension (Davis, 2007): Chapter 3: Working with vocabulary strategies: gives comprehensive guidance for explicit vocabulary instruction in years 4–8.


Published on: 18 Apr 2012