Note-Taking Skills and Strategies for ESL Students

LEP students can be successful in the classroom with implementation of strategies.
... Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Limited English Proficient students need accommodations in order to be successful in the classroom, especially if their proficiency level is low. In order to help LEP students be successful in class, teachers devise note-taking strategies to help LEP students write facts down quickly and remember what they write.

1 LEP Students

Limited English Proficient Students are identified within schools through testing and questions on student information sheets. LEP students are usually thought of by levels of proficiency. Students who are new to the language are called nonspeakers, entering or beginning in English. When an LEP student can listen, speak, read and write at a level close to that of a native English speaker, she is then called proficient. Research like that at the Linguistic Minority Research Institute indicates that most LEP students take between four and seven years to become proficient in the language.

2 Note-taking in Elementary School

In elementary school, students in the upper grades -- four through six -- need to learn basic note-taking skills to prepare them for middle and high school. One good note-taking strategy in elementary school is the use of sentence frames. Sentence frames, according to Fairfax County Public Schools, are used to give students a way to explain their thinking, expose students to content vocabulary, and improve oral language fluency in English. Teachers usually begin a sentence, and allow students to write an ending, or have the ending finished, and allow students to create the beginning. In addition, teachers may have pictures and vocabulary at the bottom of the page to offer additional help. Sentence frames are simple to make or do, and they can help LEP students find their way through vocabulary rich subjects like science, social studies and math.

3 Middle School

One of the key lessons for note-taking for LEP students in middle school is summarization. According to the Manatee County School District in Florida, there are a couple of summarizing strategies that are useful for LEP students. One is to teach students how to use Microsoft Word's track changes option to teach students how to delete details and keep the main points within a passage or paragraph. This is important because LEP students are unsure of which information is important, and which information is merely detail. Another strategy is to use a program called Inspiration to create guided learning pages for learners. LEP students can keep track of a lecture by putting symbols by a section while the teacher is relaying information.

4 High School

High school students take notes each day in multiple subjects, which makes it difficult for LEP students to listen and take notes effectively. One strategy for helping high school students with note-taking is called an advance organizer. As the Bilingual Research Journal states, advanced organizers are a good way to introduce learners to vocabulary and important concepts to a unit, chapter, or theme. Advanced organizers usually have pictures with content-specific vocabulary to be introduced and important concepts in the unit or chapter. Students can help fill in spaces with an advanced organizer, and refer back to it throughout the period. Also, students can be guided through the lesson using the advanced organizer and through the use of symbols, underlining or cloze passages.

Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.