Strategies and Activities for the 4X4 Model

This module provides strategies and activities for teaching English Language Learners skills from the four domains of the language arts according to four developmental levels of language proficiency.

Level 1 Language Proficiency

Level 1 Listening/Speaking Activities

  • Total Physical Response (TPR) with basic commands
  • TPR with pictures, forced choice or individual selection response to commands or questions
  • Read stories aloud with picture clues
  • Complete cartoon strip dialogues
  • Listening to a story in English and retell a partner in LI
  • Matching pictures with words
  • Sorting and/or classifying objects and pictures
  • Word sorts based on phonics or concepts
  • Naming characters from stories or pictures
  • Associate sentences to pictures
  • Writing numbers from dictation
  • Drawing objects from discussion
  • Finding points on a map from oral directions
  • Guessing names of objects from oral descriptors
  • Labeling common objects or familiar objects in a picture or photograph
  • Following a set of directions
  • Reading aloud to complete a task, recipe, or art project
  • Plotting points on a graph from dictation
  • Completing dictated problems with/without a calculator
  • Patterned responses using audio-lingual strategies
  • Sequencing of events based on pictures or familiar short narrative

Level 1 Reading/Writing Activities

  • Sight word recognition
  • Picture labeling
  • Modified cloze procedures using familiar paragraphs or narratives
  • Language experience stories using omissions, identifications or associations
  • Sentence completion and transformation

Level 2 Language Proficiency

Level 2 Listening/Speaking Activities

  • Role playing
  • Reader’s Theater
  • Questions to be answered with phrases and/or words
  • Labeling a picture, scene, or event with short sentences
  • Who, what, where question responses: Naming the subject or location
  • Describing a picture, scene, story, or event
  • Barrier games
  • Find-the-differences pictures
  • Mental arithmetic with simple equations
  • Estimating number
  • Responding to how and why questions
  • Making word associations
  • Language experience stories
  • Repeating phrases or filling in rhyming words in poetry being read aloud
  • Predicting outcomes of common situations, stories or narratives
  • Solving simple story problems
  • Group discussions to generate lists or short sentences
  • Sentence expansion & transformation activities
  • Story telling based on familiar events or personal experiences and routines
  • Retelling stories
  • Creating sentences and descriptions based on classroom/classmate information charts

Level 2 Reading/Writing Activities

  • Completing a cloze passage
  • Cloze dictation
  • Writing descriptions based on guide questions or template
  • New stories
  • Sentence building based on promps
  • Chain writing
  • Completing dialogues based on prompts or clues
  • What am I? Guessing games based on descriptions
  • Writing recipes or short series of directions
  • Creating a paragraph based on a sequence of pictures
  • Completing a story using substitutions for characters, objects, adjectives, antonyms or synonyms

Level 3 Language Proficiency

Level 3 Listening/Speaking Activities

All levels 1 and 2 activities can be used with greater complexity at paragraph or short oral narrative level and more vocabulary words

  • Jokes, riddles and word games such as Who Am I?
  • Simulation activities and role playing
  • Analysis of charts, graphs, tables
  • Oral panel presentations
  • Speechmaking to describe, narrate or inform

Level 3 Reading/Writing Activities

  • Creating monologues/dialogues under teacher guidance
  • Journal entries based on personal experiences
  • Short descriptions of objects, scenes from photographs
  • News telling using formats or templates: who, what, where, when and why
  • Anecdotes
  • Diary entries
  • Captions for photos or cartoons
  • Journal entry
  • Personal letters
  • Dialogues/monologues based on communicative functions
  • Telephone messages
  • Postcards
  • Friendly notes
  • Class notes
  • Memos
  • Directions or steps in a process
  • Letters to the editor
  • Letters of inquiry to a business or organization
  • Speeches based on a communicative function or purpose
  • Advertisements and commercials


Level 4 Language Proficiency

Level 4 Listening/Speaking activities

All levels 1, 2, & 3 activities can be used with greater complexity at paragraph or short oral narrative level and higher level of critical thinking and comprehension

  • Debating
  • Creating and performing skits and role-plays
  • Problem-solving simulations
  • Short speech making to persuade based on format or template
  • Skits and plays
  • Oral reports
  • Impromptu characterizations and role playing
  • Storytelling and re-telling

Level 4 Reading/Writing Activities

  • Monologues/dialogues
  • Advertising copy
  • Character sketches
  • Poems such as haiku or limerick
  • Eyewitness memoir
  • Biographical sketch of self or other familiar person  or literary character
  • Scripts
  • Folk tales
  • Vignettes based on a photograph or a “story starter”
  • Short stories based on a format or template
  • Myths based on familiar story or literature
  • Autobiographical incidents
  • Ballads and other poetic forms with a story emphasis based on familiar characters or narratives
  • Essays
  • News reports
  • Accident reports
  • Advertisements
  • Report of information based on research of a topic
  • Business letters (complaint, order, information, etc.)
  • Interviews
  • Applications
  • Summaries
  • Editorials using a template or format
  • Reviews of a familiar movie or play using a template or format
  • Eyewitness memoir
  • Library research papers
  • Poems to persuade, analyze, or make analogies
  • Single or multi-paragraph assignments to describe, narrate, analyze, compare or contrast based on an outline or graphic organizer
  • Define, support, interpret, or evaluate information from a newspaper article


Education Department of Western Australia (1994). First Steps: Oral Language Resource Book. Melbourne, Australia: Longman.

Northcutt Gonzales, L. (1994). Sheltered Instruction Handbook. San Marcos, CA: AM Graphics & Printing.