Social studies is a content area filled with domain specific vocabulary. It is generally content that is specific to the area or region where we live/teach. For example, in Texas, students learn a lot about Texas. They learn about the geography and history, economics, etc. Yes, of course they also learn about the United States too. But in Italy or Columbia, they may not be learning all about Texas or even too much about the United States. They learn about their country's geography, history and economics, etc. They explore historical figures that are important to their country. So when a student (especially in older grades) comes to America, they may be missing key parts of social studies that we expect our students to have.
Think about yourself for a moment. If you moved to...let's say Norway tomorrow and were expected to take an exam in social studies, would you feel prepared? I'm going venture and say probably not. What would help you? What if you were asked to join their social studies class and the students were all discussing Norway's history and the events that lead up to Norway's decision to join the United Nations in 1945 (of course they are all speaking in Norwegian-and let's pretend this is a language you have never spoken). What would help you?
Sometimes it helps when we put ourselves in our students shoes. What are they experiencing? How are they feeling? What would help them to become more successful?
Below are some possible challenges and suggestions that help support the ELLs. You can click below for a free download. These are useful for content teachers. Many people have shared with me that they like to use them during presentations to explain how to support ELLs in general education classrooms.
You can also find similar Math, Reading and Writing documents in the links provided.