Practical tools, activities, and resources
to guide instruction

Instruction - Language Complexity

Activities By Proficiency Level

For students at lower proficiency levels (SPLs 0–3), language complexity can be developed through practicing word order and building sentence structure in English, developing basic vocabulary and descriptive language, sequencing events in logical order, and learning formulaic chunks of language. For example, have students do the following:

  • Put words written on index cards in order to create sentences
  • Create new sentences and questions using fill-in frames
  • Practice word order in affirmative and negative sentences
  • Brainstorm vocabulary and simple sentences to describe a picture
  • Describe a daily routine using a simple timeline
  • Match wh- question words with appropriate answers
  • Practice identifying and using different simple verb tenses
  • Practice numbers and the alphabet with basic story problems and spelling exercises
  • Work on increasing speed in recognizing sight words
  • Learn formulaic greetings, phrases, and responses in familiar contexts
  • Brainstorm and practice responding to a list of wh- question types 

For students at higher proficiency levels (SPLs 4–8), language complexity can be developed through focusing on the elaboration of ideas through the use of details and examples, organization and sequencing of information in logical presentation, expanding vocabulary breadth and depth, and expressing language for different purposes. For example, have students do the following:

  • Build elaboration by using a certain number of sentences to answer questions
  • Use story starters to express consequences, inferences, and cause and effect
  • Use technical language to describe work tasks
  • Describe people, places, and things using comparative and superlative language
  • Engage in simple debates during which they must state a position and support it with examples and reasons
  • Reorder scrambled sentences to create a coherent paragraph with a main idea, supporting ideas, and conclusion
  • Build vocabulary through synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms
  • Brainstorm vocabulary related to specific categories and events in their lives
  • Correct anonymous student errors

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