Application for ELLs - Cues, Questions & Advance Organizers

Cueing and Prompting

  • Activating prior knowledge is important for everyone, but ELLs need special attention connecting prior knowledge to content presented in a new language (Hill & Flynn, 2006, p. 44).
  • Be aware that ELLs may not understand some idioms or cues that are culturally biased.


Krashen and Terrell (1983) discuss five stages of language acquisition (click here to download a pdf from ODE). Be aware that cues and questions need to be adapted depending on the stage that the students are in.

  • Students in the Preproduction Stage or "Silent Period" may have difficulty with any sort of cues or questions, no matter how simple they may be. These students may need instruction on appropriate responses to the questions.
  • Use pictures or embedded questions ("Is this a solid or a liquid?" or "Did this happen before the war or after the war?") to help students who can't articulate their ideas yet in English.
  • Preproduction and Early Production students could draw pictures of what they know about a topic in a K-W-L chart.
  • Wait time is very important for ELLs because it allows them to form their thoughts, and then figure out how they are going to say it in English. Teachers should ask questions frequently throughout the lesson to provide students many opportunities to use their new language.

Advance Organizers

  • Explicitly teach the use of graphic organizers, do not just hand them out and expect that students will use them effectively.

Click to see Chapter 5 - Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers (Hill & Flynn, 2006)