Resources for Educators - Blog

Apr 28
[Issue #2] 3 Tips to Keep Newcomer English Learners Engaged in Distance Learning Environments Written by Dr. Yee Wan

Newcomer English learners are facing greater challenges during school campus closures than their peers; having to unpack emails, navigate the technology tools, comprehend directions for assignments are just a few.  Transitioning to distance learning could be overwhelming because newcomer students tend to rely heavily on non-verbal and visual clues to make meaning in their learning. Additionally, many students have limited or no access to Internet, Wi-Fi or a technology device.

I was reading about what some teachers are doing, so am sharing some ideas that teachers of newcomers might consider:

Tip #1: Connect with newcomer students and their families: Remember that not all students have access to online learning platforms. Depending on the grade level of the student, teachers might connect with the parent or guardian by phone first and then with the student. Once initial contact has been established, schedule mutually agreed upon times to connect with students several times a week. Prior to the call, determine what are the most essential language skills that you would like to teach, coach or practice with your students. When setting up meetings, include call-ins from a landline or cell phone.

Tip #2: Be responsive by asking your newcomer students for a list of topics that they would like to learn about and integrate their interests into language learning activities. Share stories of inspiration and affirmations with students.

Tip #3: Create assignments that could leverage resources from home, be self-directed or require minimal support. For example, watch educational programs from the public broadcasting stations such as KQED TV and PBS shows. Remind students to read as much as possible. They can read in their native language or in English. You can provide hard copies of the reading materials or refer them to websites.   You might include family members in the assignment such as having the students share what they have learned with their family members.


  1. Resource
    Website: Newcomers at Grade Level and Beyond


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