EdCuration Blog: Learning in Action

Using Assistive Technology to Ease Literacy Anxiety in Your ELL Students

Sep 30, 2022 11:47:17 AM / by EdCuration Staff Writer

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  • Over 10% of students in the United States are English Language Learners (ELLs)
  • With soaring class sizes and growing ELL populations in US classrooms, educators can strategically leverage assistive technology (AT) to meet all students’ needs

A Closer Look:

It is estimated that nearly 32% of adolescents struggle with an anxiety disorder. A form of anxiety disorder that isn’t discussed as much, but is equally real and important, is reading anxiety. Reading in a language that isn’t native to you can produce high levels of reading anxiety, something many educators of ELLs witness. In fact, in 2019, 10.4% of all students (equivalent to 5.1 million children) were English Language Learners  — the most we've ever seen in US classrooms. Building fluency in ELLs requires high levels of individual attention and practice. If you’re looking to better support your English Language Learners, here’s how:


ELL-Supportive AT Features to Try in Your Classroom

  • Text-to-Speech

ELLs greatly benefit from text-to-speech tools that are compatible with their schools’ platforms. This helps learners comprehend reading assignments and develop correct diction and grammar, while helping them to understand tasks, instructions and more. Read&Write from Texthelp, for example, integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace for Education apps (plus their literacy support toolbar is free for educators!), making it a go-to resource for educators of students needing this feature. 

  • Speech-to-Text

These tools take verbal dictation and translate it into written text on the screen. This feature is especially useful for ELLs as educators can gauge a more accurate sense of their students’ understanding of academic concepts. As their words appear on the screen, learners see the correct spelling, punctuation, and even word prediction to support their grammar development.

  • Voice Note Recording

English Language Learners (and all students, really) often have questions that go unasked during instruction – whether from embarrassment about asking a “dumb” question (no such thing) or worrying their teacher won’t have time to help in that moment. Voice note recording is a tool that isn’t utilized enough in the classroom. Students using this tool can record lessons and lectures for future reference, replay class content for review, record themselves talking to self-check pronunciation, submit oral reading to teachers privately, or capture questions they have for teachers to listen to and answer later. By avoiding having ELLs read orally to the entire class (and instead via private voice note recording), educators gather essential data without causing reading anxiety in students.

  • Digital Dictionary

The quickest way to develop vocabulary is to be exposed to many new words with easy access to their meaning. Digital dictionaries allow students to easily select an unknown word to see the speech, pronunciation guides, and straightforward definitions. Read&Write takes it a step further by providing a picture dictionary, where students can highlight a word and a corresponding image appears (available for most words).


Read&Write for English Language Learner Success

Read&Write was created to meet the diverse needs of students, employees, and learners everywhere with the mission to create more inclusive, equitable school and work environments. Compatible on Chromebooks, Windows PCs, Macs, iPads, Android tablets, and across most learning management systems, this tool is easy for educators and students to adopt and implement. Experience the complete feature tour in this video library and see how simple and helpful each of the Read&Write tools are for both educators and students. Use Read&Write to support your English Language Learners and watch their language acquisition and communication improve in leaps and bounds!


Topics: English Language Learners, Classroom Management

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