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Teaching English Language Learners

What do teachers of English language learners (ELLs) in middle and high school need to know to support their students’ success? Take a look at these resources, as well as additional information from our sister site, Colorín Colorado.

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Top articles

This series provides an overview to important considerations for working with English language learners at the middle and high school level.

High school teacher working closely with ELL student

Social and Emotional Issues

How to Support the Social and Emotional Health of Middle/High School ELLs

Learn about the unique responsibilities, strengths, and social-emotional needs of English language learners and immigrant students in middle and high school.

Classroom Instruction

Tips for Teaching Middle and High School ELLs

Learn how to target your instruction to support ELL success with these tips from a veteran high school ELL teacher.

Three high school ELL students looking at book
Father and middle school son looking at laptop together at home

Families and Schools

How to Partner with Families of Middle and High School ELLs

Learn how middle and high schools can partner with multilingual families to support older ELLs’ success. Find strategies, videos featuring educator voices, and more.

Featured videos

ESOL Teacher Anne Marie Foerster Luu: Getting to know high school ELLs

Award-winning ESOL teacher Anne Marie Foerster Luu shares the importance of giving students the chance to share their stories and experiences in high school and also talks about what one student told her when asked the question, “What is something about you that I can’t see?”

Dr. Ayanna Cooper: Making assumptions about Black students’ background knowledge

Dr. Ayanna Cooper shares the story of a Haitian student whose teachers assumed that she was African American.

Omar Salem, High School ELL Teacher: Getting to know your ELLs and why it matters

Omar Salem talks about the importance of getting to know your ELLs, their interests, and their concerns.

Teacher Alejandra Rojas: When bilingual children translate for their parents

Alejandra Rojas, a teacher at a dual-immersion school in Arlington, VA, shares some of her experiences as a child and teenager translating for her mother.

Jorge Bermudez, High School Math Teacher: How advisory periods are helping my students

High school math teacher Jorge Bermudez, who teaches at an alternative high school, talks about the changes the school made to how it uses office hours and advisory periods — and how those changes are helping students.

Recommended reading

Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners

Adolescent English Language Learners (ELLs), who must simultaneously learn English and age–appropriate subject material, perform double the work of their native language peers because they are held to the same grade-level standards for academic literacy. Moreover, the ELL population is comprised of a diverse range of learners who vary dramatically in their existing literacy levels, native languages, and cultural and educational backgrounds. This foundational report is the effort of a panel of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to address six main challenges to improving academic literacy among ELLs, as well as proposed solutions and policy implications.

Professional Booklist: Middle & High School ELLs

These guides compiled by Colorín Colorado offer strategies for teaching reading and content area material to older ELLs. Many of the books also address social and emotional needs, as well as the responsibilities that many adolescent ELLs have at home.