Special Populations: English Language Learners

two students, one is writing

In your work with English language learners (ELLs), you may meet students who have unique social, emotional, and academic needs based on their prior experiences. Resources for working with special populations such as refugees, migrants, students with interrupted education, newcomer immigrants, unaccompanied children, and internationally adopted students follow below.

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What You'll Find in This Section

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What are some of the ways in which newcomer students need support?  How can schools help bridge the language gap to make them feel welcome?  Here are some ideas to get started!

Newcomer Students

two students writing at their desks

As a record-breaking number of children have crossed the border alone into the U.S. from Central America, U.S. officials, detention center staff, attorneys, case workers, children's advocates, and school personnel continue to work to meet these children's unique needs. This resource section provides resources addressing those needs including including tip sheets, news stories, reports, films, and books.

Unaccompanied Children & Youth

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These articles, video clips, books, and online resources focus on ways educators can support students and families who are refugees. Materials and guidance include ideas for instruction, matching students and families with needed services, providing important social and emotional support, and ways to welcome students into the school community. In addition, we provide background information from veteran educators and refugee support organizations.

Refugee Students

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Educators who work with migrant farmworker students have a unique opportunity to make a significant difference for their students, even if they only work together for a short time. Learn more about the challenges that face migrant students and how to provide them with opportunities for success from these resources featuring essential background information, classroom strategies, recommended books, and a list of related migrant education programs.

Migrant Farmworker Students & Families

Three young adults writing at their desks

Students who have been in English language learner (ELL) programs for the majority of their schooling are considered long-term ELLs.  Learn more about some of the programs trying to address their needs and the reasons why they are struggling.

Long-Term ELLs

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Researchers estimate that there are between 4-6 million children in U.S. public schools who have at least one family member who is undocumented, and the majority of these children are U.S. citizens themselves. These families are known as "mixed-status" families. Learn more about the unique challenges and concerns for these families from the resources below, as well as the strengths and achievements that educators are seeing their immigrant students and families demonstrate during uncertain times.

Children in Mixed-Status & Undocumented Families

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English language learners (ELLs) can often be overlooked when students are identified for gifted and talented programs, particularly if tests are verbal or depend on teacher recommendation.  These resources and news stories offer ways that teachers and parents can increase ELL access to opportunities for gifted students.

ELLs in Gifted/Talented Programs

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