CommonLit Secondary Classrooms How CommonLit Español Can Help English Language Learners with Language Acquisition

CommonLit Español is our digital library of lessons in Spanish. With over 800 Spanish texts, it is an incredible resource for teachers with Spanish-speaking English Language Learners.

CommonLit Español's library has hundreds of texts and lessons.

Our library features a wide variety of literary and informational texts by influential authors and poets like Alma Flor Ada, Federico García Lorca, and Gabriel García Márquez. We also provide Lecciones Guiadas, interactive lessons that ask students to find evidence, write, and collaborate with peers. Many of our lessons are cross-listed in both English and Spanish as well.

In this blog post, we will discuss how CommonLit Español can be used to help Emerging, Developing, and Expanding English Language Learners.

Understanding Development Stages of English Language Learners

Emerging students have limited receptive and productive English skills and need intensive, accelerated instruction. Teachers can use students’ dominant language to scaffold instruction.

Developing English Language Learners can communicate and engage in social and academic settings. They may need targeted language development instruction, especially as they face more cognitively demanding situations in English.

Finally, Expanding students can communicate appropriately, adapt communication based on context, and can work on meeting interdisciplinary demands in English. Although these students likely will no longer receive individualized support, there are still ways the CommonLit Español library can assist with their overall development.

Assessment is Crucial for English Language Learners

For English Language Learners, assessment is key to determine a student’s Language Acquisition Stage. Teachers should first determine if a student can read and write in their first language. If a student is a proficient reader and writer in Spanish, they should be able to continue developing their Spanish and English language skills simultaneously.

If a student has not learned how to read and write in their first language, it will aid their English Language Development if they are given opportunities to develop their Spanish literacy skills.

Using CommonLit Español To Help Emerging English Language Learners

Emerging English Language Learners can engage in complex language tasks when they are provided with linguistic support. Teachers can access student’s own background and dominant language by using translations of English lessons the rest of the class is working on.

Our Spanish library can be very useful for these students to help them develop reading and writing skills in Spanish as a foundation for developing their English language skills. Over 200 of CommonLit’s English lessons are also in Spanish in our CommonLit Español library.

List of CommonLit texts in Spanish and English

Teachers can use a Spanish translation of a text and the related multimedia resources to build background knowledge connected to what students will be learning in class. Teachers can front load key vocabulary, having students define or draw pictures of the words. Teachers should encourage repeating or mimicking language, use visual aids and pictures, use a slower rate of speech, and allow for multiple ways to respond, for example drawing, acting it out, or writing.

How CommonLit Español Can Aid Developing English Language Learners

For students who are Developing English Language Learners, using a Spanish translation of a text or a text with a similar topic can help build background knowledge. Teachers should encourage memorization of short phrases, provide many listening activities, give students sentence stems, and use conceptual visuals with word banks. Teachers can also encourage partner or trio reading, listening activities, and ask simple questions.

Changing the Course for Expanding English Language Learners

When students are Expanding English Language Learners, schools and teachers should encourage Spanish-speaking students to continue their Spanish language development, but not as a primary tool to engage with English Language Arts content.

These students should be encouraged to use their English skills to engage with the reading and learning activities. Instead, these students can use the CommonLit Español library to build background knowledge for different topics instead of using it as a translation of texts or topics covered in class.

Next Steps

Interested in exploring the CommonLit Español library? Check it out here.