Avoid giving instructions “in the air”. Instructions – even basic directions for classroom procedures – should be written on the board whenever possible since EL kids have a harder time processing spoken language. Students who have been enrolled in school in Mexico, or their home country, are sometimes able to read English better than Listening to instructions. Students can decode it at a rate they feel comfortable with. Listening is one and done, where writing on the board can referred to throughout the lesson.
Challenging concepts can be diagrammed or supported with pictures. Modeling the steps of a process or showing students what a finished product should look like can go a long way toward helping students understand. Students can create the instructions themselves by looking a a finished product. Not only will this kind of non-linguistic representation improve comprehension for ELL students, it will help all of your students grasp concepts better.