Application for ELL - Identifying Similarities and Differences

When instructing ELLs in identifying similarities and differences:

  • Represent your subject in visuals, realia or with graphics.
  • Clearly articulate the task with short, simple sentences.
  • Use gestures and facial expressions to reinforce your speaking.
  • Begin with high-frequency vocabulary and familiar content.
  • Use few idiomatic expressions.
  • Model with the students before you give them independent work.
  • Scaffold the task using graphic organizers and small steps.

When ELLs are independently working to identify similarities and differences:

  • Start with a familiar topic
  • Then, scaffold or link to a broader content-oriented subject.
  • Select Context-embedded tasks with clear topics and textual clues such as graphics, bold vocabulary, etc..
  • When you use context-reduced tasks which are more cognitively demanding be sure to provide students with specific vocabulary strategies for making meaning from text.

Focus on vocabulary development to help ELLs identify similarities and differences.

  • Vocabulary enrichment can include attribute words, synonyms and antonyms, comparatives, superlatives, compare and contrast vocabulary.
  • Students benefit from graphic vocabulary displays such as word walls, concept webs, mind maps etc...which help them use categorizing as a way to learn and remember the meaning of new terms.

Move from least complex to most complex. There are six distinct tasks for similarities and differences, each with specific vocabulary and academic language. They are:

  • Describing - Using words, phrases or sentences to give details about the attributes of an object, picture or vocabulary word.
  • Classifying - Grouping objects, pictures or words based upon similarities and differences in their attributes.
  • Comparing- Explaining how the attributes of objects, pictures or words are similar to the attributes of other objects, pictures or words.
  • Contrasting- Explaining how and why the attributes of objects, pictures or words differ from one another.
  • Creating Analogies- Making comparisons of the relationships between the attributes of two distinct sets of items which function in parallel.
  • Creating Metaphors- Establishing a link or resemblance between two distinctly different items by Identifying an attribute or quality in one item and linking that to the other. Using one item to represent another or as a figure of speech or phrase that portrays it as being equal to another in some way. This is a direct comparison done without the use of the words "like" or "as".