ES English as an additional language


EAL in Grades 1 and 5 by Silke Trester


If your child is in 1st or 5th grade this year, chances are s/he sees me in her/his class on a regular basis. That’s because I provide mostly in-class English language support.

We have been busy in EAL. Both 1st and 5th grade have started their non-fiction units. EAL supports those units with almost daily mini lessons on vocabulary, capitalization, idioms, and/or punctuation. Here is a more in-depth look at what we are currently up to in EAL:

Capitalization & Punctuation

1st graders are reminded to think about what makes a sentence. Adding capitalization to the beginning of the sentence and punctuation to the end is like thinking of bookends. It makes a sentence stand proud and tall. We also continue to talk about capitals for names. Alongside these topics we give ample opportunities to review capitals vs. lower case letters.

In 5th grade we have introduced the comma. Always a rather torturous topic of language learning, punctuation is crucial for clarity and emphasis when writing. Plus, we have found that learning comma rules can also be fun. Ask your child about these missing commas and the rules that weren’t followed.


5th graders had fun with idioms on Halloween. I presented the scariest idioms around, and we acted out those idioms later for others to guess. Ask your child to explain what it means to ‘have a skeleton in your closet’, ‘make your blood boil’, ‘be scared stiff’, ‘shake like a leaf’, etc.


Vocabulary acquisition is at the heart of language learning. The more words we know, the more we understand while listening and reading. The more we understand, the more we can contribute verbally and in writing. Academic vocabulary is the hardest to learn, but all vocabulary acquisition takes practice. Hearing a word a few times is not enough; we need to practice saying and using it. We need to make it our own. This is true for all of us – not just EAL students. We are all language learners, in essence, no matter which language we are using. 1st graders move beyond their linguistic comfort zone by using phrases instead of single words. 5th graders are pushing themselves to use words they don’t usually use – transitions, for example – by creating and adding to an anchor chart in the form of a word cloud.

In 1st grade, students learned new vocabulary regarding stars and the solar system this week. In 5th grade, diving into 20th century change agents gives ample opportunity to learn new words. My EAL students acquired new vocabulary on the topic of Albert Einstein while also learning about facts vs. opinion, notetaking, and the importance of organizing and structuring a presentation. Watch our Albert Einstein informational video here:

And here are some other links you might find useful:

My SSIS Blog:

My COETAIL blog post on commas and

technology integration: