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About English Language Learners (ELLs)

The number of English language learners in American schools has more than doubled over the past 20 years. The articles in this section will give you lots of useful ideas for creating an environment that is welcoming and supportive for your ELLs and their families, and also encourages and facilitates learning.

This section contains 30 articles.

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The First Snowfall

For many English language learners, their first snowfall in the United States may be the first they have ever experienced. It can be a magical experience, and it can also be a little overwhelming — and cold! These resources are great for turning a snowy day into a memorable teaching moment.

Resources for Unaccompanied Minors

Getting to Know Your ELLs: Six Steps for Success

Making Your First ELL Home Visit: A Guide for Classroom Teachers

Educating Newcomer ELLs with Limited Schooling: An Overview

Extra Support for Adolescent ELLs

Before- and after-school programs can play an important role in ELLs' success by providing a place and time for homework, extra academic support, and enrichment activities. These programs are particularly helpful for older students who may not have access to academic resources or help at home, or those with responsibilities such as working or caring for younger siblings. Learn more about the elements of an effective before- and after-school program for ELLs from this excerpt of Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners: Essential Strategies for Middle and High School (Caslon Publishing, 2010).

Helping ELL Newcomers: Things Your Students Need to Know

This excerpt from The More-Than-Just-Surviving Handbook offers an excellent list of practical details and logistics that ELLs need to know when starting at a new school, such as routines, rules, transportation, and classroom expectations. The list serves as an excellent reminder of the extra help ELL students and families need negotiating a new school system and will be particularly helpful for teachers new to working with ELLs.

Resources for Migrant Student Success

These resources explore the lives of migrant farm workers and families in a way that children can understand and relate to. They also provide educators tools that will support their efforts to help migrant students succeed.

ELL Resources by Grade

Supporting ELLs in the Mainstream Classroom

10 Ways to Support ELLs in the School Library

The school library is an important resource for English language learners. It may be the first place many students and their families get experience using a lending library. What can school librarians can to show ELLs that libraries are welcoming places of entertainment and enrichment? This article offers some ideas.

A Multidimensional Approach to Vocabulary Instruction: Supporting English Language Learners in Inclusive Classrooms

The principles of a multidimensional vocabulary program hold promise for supporting the vocabulary development of all students, especially English language learners. Eight characteristics of a multidimensional approach are described. The first is the introduction of new words through engaging children's literature.

From the Classroom: Working with Chinese ELLs

In this article written exclusively for Colorín Colorado, Xiao-lin shares some insights on ways that teachers can work effectively with Chinese students and parents, as well as some of her own classroom strategies for working with bilingual students. While some of these strategies are culturally/linguistically-specific, many can serve as a model when working with students from diverse backgrounds.

Best Practice for ELLs: Screening

Studies show that screening English language learners for abilities in phonological processing, letter knowledge, and word and text reading will help identify those who are progressing well and/or who require additional instructional support.

Learning about Your Students' Backgrounds

English language learners represent a vastly diverse group. Learning more about the language, culture, values, family, and home environment of your ELL students will help you to better support your students in the classroom and receive more support from home.

The Diversity of English Language Learners

The schooling experience of ELLs is impacted by many factors such as time in school, quality of instruction, transiency, home environment, and past emotional experiences in school. The following vignettes illustrate some of these differences.

Learning about your students' backgrounds

The diversity of English language learners

Common Questions About English Language Learners

Improving Achievement for English Learners: Conclusions from 2 Research Reviews

English learners constitute the fastest growing segment of the school-age population. The education of these learners has long been a highly contested and politically charged field. This issue will only grow as ELLs become an increasing presence in U.S. schools.

Bilingual Acquisition

Language acquisition is an everyday and yet magical feat of childhood. This article addresses the truth - and the myths - around learning two languages in childhood, and sets the record straight!

Fostering Literacy Development in English Language Learners

Researcher Karen Ford offers some insight on how ELLs use their native language skills to learn to read and write in a second language, and how teachers can help facilitate the process.

Closing the Achievement Gap: Focus on Latino Students

This policy brief provides a snapshot of the current demographic and achievement trends of Latinos, some of the specific barriers to closing the achievement gap, and presents a set of recommendations to improve educational opportunities for Latino children.

Context Counts in Second Language Learning

Learning a second language is made more or less difficult by several contextual factors, such as first language proficiency, level of similarity between the first and second languages, and motivational factors. This article discusses factors that relate to learning a second language, from the perspective of the language, the learner, and the learning process.

Preventing Difficulties for Low English Proficiency Children

English Language Learners and Reading Difficulties

English language learners are at risk for future reading difficulties for a number of reasons. Here are some factors all teachers of ELLs should know.

Acquiring a Second Language for School

Learning a second language for school is not simply a linguistic challenge; it poses social, cultural, academic, and cognitive challenges as well. This article describes a conceptual model for acquiring a second language for school that reflects all these challenges, and makes recommendations for instruction stemming from this model.