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The Language Experience Approach describes a lesson, typically done with English Language Learners, in which the entire class does a common activity (playing a game, watching a video, anything), and then the teacher leads students in a process of writing about it. Those sentences can then be used for a myriad of other follow-up activities. It’s particularly useful for mixed-level classes—everyone can participate in the activity, and then students can write sentences about it that are simple or complex depending on their language proficiency.

It’s one of my favorite instructional strategies!

I’m going to share resources here divided into two sections.  The first section includes links to explanations about how to apply the strategy in the classroom.  The second includes links to different activities you can have students do, and then write about.

 

HOW TO APPLY LEA:

Eight Ways to Use Video With English-Language Learners is a piece we wrote in Edutopia.

The Language Experience Approach and Adult Learners is from CAELA.

The language experience approach is from The Victoria State Government.

Getting to the Rough Ground of Language and Literacy Learning Through the Language Experience Approach is from The Literacy Bug.

Language Experience Approach (LEA) Step by Step

My student teacher came up with what I think is a good “twist” on the Language Experience Approach. After doing the activity (watching a video, playing a game, taking a tour, etc.), when working with newcomers, start by asking them to create a class word bank. Sentence might be beyond them for now, but most can at least come up with English words they know that relate to the activity. Once the word bank is on the board, we can then give them hints about how they can construct sentences using them.

 

LEA ACTIVITIES:

Google Lets You “Paint With Music”

The Best Sources Of Ideas For Simple Classroom Science Experiments

Origami & The Language Experience Approach

GREAT RESOURCES FOR CREATING & GOING ON VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS

Fun Videos For ELLs

The Best Ideas For Using Games In The ESL/EFL/ELL Classroom