Teaching Models and Strategies

5 Effective Modeling Strategies for English Learners

Some tried-and-true strategies, such as modelling for English learners, continue to be essential in spite of the enormous shifts in pedagogical practise that have been caused by the move to online learning. Due to the fact that teachers frequently are unable to intervene in real time in today’s schools, effective modelling, in which the teacher’s expectations for student performance are made explicit through the use of an example, is a lifeline for English language learners because it provides clarity.

In the K–12 classrooms that we have observed, modelling is consistently underutilised, despite the fact that it is an easy strategy with a high potential for impact. This is true both in classrooms that contain only English learners and in classrooms that contain a mix of English learners and native speakers of the language. It is helpful to keep in mind that providing effective models saves time in the long run because it not only provides clear examples of the expectations that should be met for a particular assignment but also reduces the amount of verbiage that a teacher needs to explain a task.


Modeling can be done in a variety of different ways to be effective. In every circumstance, modelling should be used to clarify the expectations of the task without revealing the answer. Furthermore, it should be kept accessible to students throughout the entirety of the task. The following are some good illustrations of various models.

1. As an illustration, let’s say we finish the first one in a set: Even though this is the most basic type of modelling, we have discovered that it is not utilised nearly enough. To view an example, please click here. It is helpful to model one or two examples for students to see exactly what is expected of them in any kind of exercise in which students are working through multiple examples of the same type of question or problem.

2. Providing clear guidance on the requirements of the assignment through the use of visual models: For an illustration in the humanities, click here; for an illustration in mathematics, click here. These embedded models demonstrate the teacher’s expectations for performance in a clear and concise manner, using visuals rather than a great deal of text, without revealing the answers.

3. Providing sentence frames as models for the kinds of conversations students should be having 3. Using language frames as models for conversational moves When they are able to focus on what they want to express rather than how to express it, ELs are able to participate in conversations in a more fluid manner. Examine an activity from See Think Wonder that makes use of language frames, and compare it to a more traditional rendition of the same activity.

4. Providing a video demonstration of how to carry out the various steps of the process: This video example, which was created by Megan Berdugo at Brooklyn International High School, demonstrates how to solve an equation by illustrating each step with the help of a problem that is similar to the one being solved. Students can watch it as many times as they like and pause it whenever they need to in order to pick up any words or concepts that they may have missed.

5. Breaking down the steps of a complicated process into manageable chunks and providing students with a corresponding template to fill in: When there is a lot of language to wade through and it is unclear which part of the model corresponds to which part of the assignment, English Language Learners (ELs) are more likely to feel overwhelmed when presented with models of a paragraph, essay, or solution. Students are able to concentrate on one component at a time, which reduces the cognitive and linguistic loads by virtue of the fact that the model was broken up into smaller chunks and space was provided next to each component. You can view an example of good writing here, and you can view an example of good math here.

Concerns have been voiced that the provision of a model will lessen the demanding nature of an assignment. De-mystifying a teacher’s expectations may make the assignment less challenging for a student, but it does not in any way make the task less complicated as long as the model cannot be replicated. This is the position that we would take. In point of fact, excellent models make it possible for students to skip over wasting valuable mental energy and time trying to figure out what a teacher wants them to do and instead go straight to the meat of the assignment.

Modeling that is done well is arguably the simplest form of scaffolding, as it calls for the least amount of individualization for each student. In addition, just like other types of scaffolding, effective modelling is beneficial to all students and not just ELs. It gives students who are having difficulty access to essential resources, which can be the deciding factor in whether or not they experience success.