Strategies for English Learners

Translate, Translators, TranslationCommunication with families can be hard when there are languages other than English spoken at homeSo we make sure all staff are using translation tools (Remind, Talking Points, Google Translate, translation subtitles) and when we talk with families, we use translators

English learners have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. While teachers found that student engagement and learning were challenging across the board, it was even more difficult to connect with and effectively support students who are still learning English. Some of the strategies that teachers might employ in a classroom—such as group work or small group instruction—have not been used consistently since instruction moved online. Prerecorded lessons, worksheets, and even whole class instruction that involved a larger group of diverse learners left some students feeling lost or disengaged.

University Library: Gifted Black Girl uses Laptop, Writes Notes for the Paper, Essay, Study for Class Assignment. Students Learning, Studying for Exams College. Side View Portrait with Bookshelves

teachers and admin reported most effective approaches for students who are English Language Learners was one-on-one conferencing
teachers and admin reported most effective approaches for students who are English Language Learners was small group instruction

Paraeducators can provide targeted supports for English Learners“We have a language paraeducator who would meet with different groups of English learners. She’d help with small groups of students as they worked on their specific assignments. They’d need help in breaking down everything, because, a lot of times, school is just overwhelming. The paraeducator helped to really scale things back to meet their needs.”

It is important that districts and schools use the same targeted strategies for engaging English Learners – and their families – in the remote learning environment (COVID-19’s Impact on English Learner Students, PACE, June 2020). In a recent survey, educators overwhelmingly referred to a single key factor that allowed English learners to succeed with distance learning–solid relationships with their families. The better schools knew their families, the more effective their school-family partnerships around distance learning were (Distance Learning for ELLs: Colorín Colorado Guide).

Guiding Questions

  • What policies or practices do we need to increase active learning and engagement for English learners?
  • What structures and strategies work best for English learners?
  • What technology might help English learners while at home?

Professional Development Connections

  • Professional development must include basic skills in using technology tools for translation and subtitles.
  • Excellent practices are going on around the country–share video examples to motivate and inspire.
Use these selected strategies and resources
High-leverage Strategies Aligned Resources

Targeted Professional Development

Provide teachers of English learners with targeted professional development to:

    • Ensure equitable access to instruction for English learners by monitoring learning and addressing barriers
    • Ensure coherence of grade-level learning for English learners and create a plan to adapt materials to online delivery systems

For more information, visit the Professional Development: English Learners  section of this guide.

The English Learners Success Forum includes:

Colorín Colorado’s resources include:

Communication and Relationships

Use or adapt high-quality resources to build relationships with and communicate with English learner families.

Distance Learning for ELLs: Colorín Colorado Guide includes:

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) created the “Supporting English Language Learners During the COVID-19 Pandemic” guide, available in English or en Español.

Networking With Other Districts

Encourage staff to network and learn what has worked in other districts.

Social media provides easy-to-access networking opportunities, including these resources:

(Compiled by Colorín Colorado)