English Language Learners and Literacy Instruction


We will all soon be teachers of English language learners.

Whether you are teaching at a tiny school in rural Maine or in a large inner-city classroom in Chicago, you will eventually encounter a new student who has little to no experience speaking or listening to English. The statistics don’t lie.

Often these children arrive unexpectedly, and everything is new to them—not only the language, but schooling and the community too.

What’s a teacher to do? Especially if you have little or no training for working with English language learners?

Enroll in this course! We don’t have all the answers for helping ELLs acclimate and thrive, but we do have lots of information and practical tips to build your confidence quickly.

What You’ll Learn

  • research on the growing population of ELLs and refugees, and their impact on schools
  • advice for dealing with the “silent period” many children go through when acquiring a new language
  • tools for building connections with the families of ELLs
  • activities that work best in promoting rapid oral language growth
  • classroom design suggestions to help ELLs fully join the community
  • guidance for setting reasonable goals and targets with ELLs
  • modifications for literacy workshops that support ELLs within classrooms of mostly English-only speakers
  • strategies for building and expanding vocabulary with young ELLs
  • tips on integrating nonfiction and content literacy into work with ELLs

What You’ll Get

  • six keynote sessions
  • access to 50+ site articles and videos to deepen your understanding
  • a Certificate of Completion indicating seven professional learning hours
  • tools, strategies, and wise advice

Contributors of print and/or video components of the course include Max Brand, Andie Cunningham, Katie DiCesare, Shari Frost, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan, Beth Lawson, Kate Mills, Jennifer Schwanke, Ruth Shagoury, and Franki Sibberson.

More Details

Your guide for the class is Stella Villalba, a literacy specialist and native Spanish speaker who immigrated to the United States from Argentina and has worked in schools supporting teachers and children for almost two decades. Stella is a Lead Ambassador for the National Council of Teachers of English, and works full-time in the Dublin (Ohio) City Schools.

This course provides tools, strategies, and wise advice from many teachers just like you who suddenly found themselves grappling with how to instruct children with native languages other than English. You’ll enter their classrooms as they write about working one-on-one and in small groups with these children. You’ll view videos of conferences, small groups, and whole-class lessons tailored to the specific needs of children who are in the process of absorbing a new language and cultural norms at lightning speed, and trying to express their learning in a tongue not spoken at home.

Teachers with little or no preparation for work with English language learners can easily become overwhelmed or frustrated when they consider the challenges of trying to communicate without a shared oral language. Yet ELLs present wonderful opportunities in classrooms too. These children literally open our eyes to a world well beyond our local communities. By the time you finish this course, we hope you are not only confident, but eager to welcome English language learners into your classroom.

This course is included with Classic Classroom, Literacy Leadership and Literacy Team memberships.

Course Curriculum

Introduction to English Language Learners

Stella Villalba introduces us to some of the basic principles of working with English language learners.

Welcoming Families of English Language Learners

Stella Villalba guides us to look at ways to build bridges to families of English Language Learners.

Classroom Environments for English Learners

Stella Villalba shares how to design classroom environments for English learners.

Instructional Strategies for English Learners

This module includes a wide range of readings and videos about best practices for supporting English learners in classrooms.

Instructional Strategies for English Language Learners Continued (Zone of Proximal Development)
Understanding the Silent Period

The silent period is a crucial phase of development for many English learners, and one of the most misunderstood elements of language acquisition for teachers.

Stocking Classroom Libraries for English Learners

In this module we explore how to stock libraries with books that target the needs of English learners and tell stories they will love.

Meet Your Instructor

Stella Villalba

Stella Villalba divides her everyday life teaching English language learners for one part of the day as she has been doing for over 20 years. The other part of her day includes collaborating with and coaching teachers across the Dublin, Ohio, school district, bridging understandings regarding teaching ELLs. Stella is a Lead Ambassador for NCTE. She is passionate about languages, literacy, and culture. You can keep up with Stella at her blog, Learn Love Grow.

Enrollment Options

Course Only

$59.00 Purchase Access

Get access to all book guides and Choice Literacy courses with membership.

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