Join the Conversation! Visit the Really Good Teachers Forum!

Log In

Forgot Your Display Name Or Password?


Specify Facebook App ID and Secret in Super Socializer > Social Login section in admin panel for Facebook Login to work

Reset Your Password Or Request Display Name


A Really Good Stuff® Community

Join Our 2,033 Members Engaging In 369 Posts
March 4, 2013

Using Thematic Units for English Language Development

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Using Thematic Units for English Language Development in the Classroom

Using Thematic Units for English Language Development in the Classroom

by Lori Wolfe, Guest Columnist

As classroom teachers we know the value of thematic units when teaching young learners. These units motivate children and engage students in learning. But did you know that English Language Development (ELD) instruction is best delivered using this same tried and true teaching technique?

What is Thematic Instruction? What are Thematic Units?

Thematic units lessons differ by the manner in which instruction is presented. Instead of teaching in subject areas, the curriculum is organized around themes or topics. Reading, math, writing and science is integrated into an exploration of a broad subject area. Children learn in a way that is natural to them.

In ELD instruction Thematic units are used to integrate the language skills of oral language and reading, writing, speaking, listening.

Benefits of Thematic units:

Teaching thematically offers the teacher a natural way to offer ELD instruction while building on students’ prior knowledge, incorporating oral and written language, building a natural scaffold for student learning, engaging students in the learning, using cooperative learning situations. Thematic teaching allows the ESL teacher to focus on individual needs within the classroom while offering an in-depth study of one concept area and the language and vocabulary that surrounds it.

Let’s take a look at what you can integrate by teaching thematically.

How to use a theme to teach your ELD Lesson:

  1. Choose the language function(s) you need to teach at each language level.
  2. Brainstorm the language forms that fit that function(s) at each level.
  3. Choose a topic or theme that supports the language being taught.
  4. Select a song, video, book or poem that supports your topic or theme.
  5. Create a list of verbs, nouns adjectives and/or adverbs that support the theme, function and form.
  6. Gather pictures to support your lesson.
  7. Create a simple pre and post assessment geared toward the language you will be teaching in the unit.
  8. Choose several activities that will promote oral language practice throughout your theme.
  9. Gather a writing project that will support your function, form and theme.
  10. Find a project that fits your topic and language objectives to make in class and send home for practice.

Integrating a theme into teaching English Language Development is a perfect fit. If you have second language learners in your classroom, thematic units easily present curriculum regardless of language level. Click here for a free unit on vehicles “Things that Go”. This is a perfect unit for your advanced level language speakers!

Follow these simple steps and get going on some great ELD instruction that will engage your students and provide them with some rigorous language development

Do you use thematic units in your ELD lessons? Share with us your best units!

Happy Teaching,

Lori Wolfe

Fun To Teach


About the Author

Lori Wolfe has taught English Language Development, bilingual 1st & 2nd grades, and as a Title I Reading and Math specialist.  She also presents professional development workshops, develops curriculum and blogs. Follow her blogs at Fun To Teach ESL and Fun To Teach Math Blog for more great teaching ideas, tips, freebies and more. You can also find Fun To Teach on Facebook.

  • Share:
to share this article.
Make A Comment.
Be the first to make a comment.

to report.
  • really Good Stuff Community
  • Weekly Recap

© 2019 Really Good Stuff, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Statement | Terms of Use | Preference Center