For newcomers who speak little to no English, you might first introduce colors, numbers, shapes, body parts, and survival vocabulary. Once your new students know these words they can do a variety of classroom activities.

Next, start with the school environment vocabulary. You might make flash cards of the items they see in their classroom.
Perhaps assigning the new student with a buddy will help! The ideal situation would be to pair an older bilingual student with a same-language newcomer. During the adjustment phase, the buddy can explain what’s going on. This is a good self-esteem builder for a bilingual buddy and a new friend for the newcomer. You may want to rotate buddies so that students do not become too dependent on one person and the bilingual buddy does not miss too much work.

The newcomer’s buddy might:

  • Help them learn the classroom routine.
  • Sit with them at lunch.Learn how to communicate with them using gestures and short phrases.
  • Teach them the beginning vocabulary.
  • Include them in games on the playground.
  • Play student-made vocabulary games with them.
  • Learn a few words of the newcomer’s language

Make a picture dictionary. To make a picture dictionary, staple sheets of construction paper together and have students cut pictures out of magazines. Use categories which complement your curriculum. Encourage students to add to their Dictionary whenever possible. This is an excellent cooperative learning activity that mainstream students can also do!

Make a vocabulary poster. Have students work in groups. Assign each group to aparticular category. Have kids cut out pictures from magazines and label them to create large posters of categories of common vocabulary words. Categories might include food, clothing, body parts, colors, animals, playground scenes, family groups, classroom, street scenes, house and furniture, or transportation. Display the posters in your classroom.

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