11 Tips to Help ELs Avoid the Summer Slide

The summer slide is a well-documented phenomenon that refers to the loss of academic learning that many students experience during summer break. This loss is especially prevalent among children from low-income households because families cannot afford to send their children to camps or other expensive summer programs. Due to school district budget cuts, there are fewer summer ESL programs for our students than there used to be.  Many of the suggestions below depend on your students having access to the internet and a device to use. It is important for you to find out if students have this access. Enlist the help of your local library to assist students with the use of library computers.

What can teachers do to help their students avoid the summer slide? First, I would build a class page on your school website where students can post  activities during the summer. Have them sign into the page and open accounts before the end of the school year. Schedule a meeting with the parents of your ELs so that you can review some of the activities that you want students to do during the summer. Remember to include reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities for your students.  Here are 12 suggestions to help you prepare ELs to read and develop language during the summer.

  1. Convey to families of ELs how important it is for their children to read during the summer. Ask a family member to read aloud every day in either English or the home language. Include comic books, graphic novels, and other light reading on your suggested reading list. Ask your local library for help by maintaining your list so that students can access it during the summer.
  2. Plan a day to take students to the public library and invite parents to join you. Make sure all of your ELs have a library card and show them how to access library computers. Ask the children’s librarian to talk to your students about the resources they can find in the library.
  3. Introduce ELs  to a reading log. Before the end of the school year, show students how to keep a chart for their reading.  Check out the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. This is a free virtual reading log where students record the amount they’ve read.
  4. ELs need to continue to practice English during the summer. Investigate ways that your students can socialize with English-speaking peers during the break. A park or library program would be ideal. You can also develop a list of websites that are appropriate for your students to practice English. My blog, “11 Apps to Build Literacy for Elementary ELLs,” will give you some ideas for your list.
  5. Encourage families to go to museums, restaurants, camping, zoos, parks, or simply walk around the neighborhood.  Exposure to English or discussions in home language can help ELs increase their vocabulary. Give students information about outdoor summer concerts or parades that take place in your town. These are places where your ELs may see classmates and have a chance to practice their English.
  6. Have students collect something during the summer. Provide a place on a class blog for students to upload pictures and write a few sentences about their collections.
  7. According to research, many children gain weight over the summer. Parents may need to limit the time their children are using a computer or watching TV . Teach ELs about a healthy diet and the importance of exercise before schools ends.  Have them keep a chart of their exercise and healthy eating during the summer on your class blog.
  8. Teach students to do internet research for fun. For example, they can research a new skill online, such as origami or making paper airplanes. Brainstorm a list of things with students that they would like to learn and help them find sites that they can use before the end of the school year.
  9. Teach your students how to take a virtual tour of places in the United States such as Colonial Williamsburg or one of the 4-H virtual farm trips. Make sure the tours that you choose are interactive and interesting to your ELs.
  10. Go to Pinterest and have students pick a few summer activities that they would enjoy.
  11. If parents heed your advice about summer activities for their children, they will be out and about a lot. Review summer safety tips with your ELs.

If you have activities that you do with your class during the summer, please let us know in the comment section below.

About Judie Haynes

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes taught elementary ESL for 28 years and is the author and coauthor of eight books for teachers of ELs , the most recent being “Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence and Chronic Stress“ with Debbie Zacarian and Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz. She was a columnist for the TESOL publication "Essential Teacher" and is also cofounder and comoderator of the Twitter Chat for teachers of English learners #ELLCHAT.
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One Response to 11 Tips to Help ELs Avoid the Summer Slide

  1. Sonia Frantz says:

    Great article Judie!

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