The 2020 Election and Beyond: Resources for ELLs

Multilingual election sign

Find resources for teaching and discussing the 2020 election with your English language learners (ELLs) in the resource list below, as well as resources focused on media literacy.

In the coming weeks and months, your students may continue to have many questions about why the election unfolded as it did and what comes next. They may also have questions about what a new presidential administration means for them. These resources include educational resources you can use in the classroom and tips for discussion.

Special thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for maintaining great resource lists and archives on these topics.

Addressing ELL Students' Questions and Concerns

If you teach English language learners (ELLs) or immigrant students, there are a few helpful things to know about as we head into the coming weeks. You may wish to share this information with administrators or colleagues who also work with ELLs.

1. Explain that the long process of counting votes after the election proceeded as normal and was expected, especially with the high number of mail-in ballots this year due to the pandemic. There are some helpful explanations about this process in our resources below.

2. Students may have deep personal feelings about the outcomes of this election for a number of reasons. ELL and immigrant students may have felt the impacts of changing immigration policies in recent years, directly or indirectly. They may also have experienced bullying or harassment due to a number of factors, including their ethnicity, language, or religion. In addition, many immigrant families have also been particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic and students may be shouldering heavy levels of responsibility at home. Students may also be concerned about retribution against themselves based on the outcome of the election.

3. It is also important not to make assumptions about any student's experience or political leanings. No voting block is monolithic and we are seeing a complex picture emerge for how and why a diverse range of communities voted as they did.

4. While some students may wish to engage in group discussion, others may feel uncomfortable drawing any attention to themselves or their family's situation. Proceed with utmost care and sensitivity and continue to look for ways to embed social-emotional support and learning across the curriculum.

5. You can get a better picture of the questions and concerns families may have by speaking with families directly. Students and families may have questions about what the results might mean for them. While you won't be able to answer their questions right away, you can acknowledge the difficulty of the uncertainty families have been experiencing and assure them that you will work to help connect them with others who will be working on these issues.

6. You may wish to reach out to administrators and mental health colleagues or partners to establish some more robust support for students who are under tremendous strain due to the pandemic and perhaps feeling high levels of anxiety.

7. Find out which local organizations have ties to your community and look for ways to partner in families' home languages to provide ongoing updates of information. Building school-community partnerships have proven to be critical in addressing families' questions and concerns about the pandemic, immigration issues, and other key topics.

8. Don't lose sight of the strengths that ELL/immigrant students and families bring to their schools and our communities every day. The better you know your families, the more deeply you can tap into those strengths.

9. Let ELL/immigrant students and their families know that they are valued members of your class, school, and community. Continue efforts to make them feel welcome. If you aren't sure what that looks like, especially in virtual settings, ask them what would make them feel more welcome, perhaps in private conversations or small focus groups. Share those ideas with staff and administrators as you hear them. At the same time, communicate to your class that all students are valued members of the classroom and bullying or disrespectful speech against ELLs and immigrant students will not be tolerated. Share the importance of these message with other colleagues.

10. Continue learning from other educators to find out how they are managing this moment through your local networks or online networks.

For more resources and ideas you can use in instruction, see the list below.

Classroom Resources: Media Literacy

Media Literacy

Upcoming events

Articles & blog posts

Classroom Resources: Election 2020

After the Election

Immigration stories and topics

Election Week: Waiting for Results

Preparing for the 2020 Election

Multimedia: 2020 Election & Civics Resources for Students

Resources for ELLs

Spanish-Language Election Information

Useful Resources from Prior Elections

Books & Authors

My America: Many Voices, Many Stories

These books celebrate a diverse range of American voices and experiences, including voting in an election, immigrating to this country, and the journey to becoming a U.S. citizen.

Featured Video: Janet Wong reads "Liberty"

Poet Janet Wong reads and discusses her poem "Liberty", which is featured in Poems to Learn by Heart.

Book and Activity Guides

More booklists

Reading Rockets offers the following great booklists about elections, government, and U.S. presidents:

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