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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

ESOL learners and literacy


Mastery of literacy in a second language is supported by literacy in the student's first language. Language and literacy knowledge in one language can serve as the foundation for a new language. Dual language books, high interest readers, and in class or withdrawal remediation, can all add to success for literacy learning for ESOL students. Also important is the contribution of whānau and the wider school community, who in many cases are the primary knowledge holders of literacy in a students first language. Social literacies may develop before academic, where language is more formal, restrained, and requires strong subject-specific and technical knowledge.

The following features of effective early literacy programs are recommended: 

1. Oral language and literacy development is supported by the student's first language. 

2. Literacy learning in English is an on-going process that requires time and appropriate support.

3. Instruction and materials are culturally and developmentally appropriate.

4. Literacy programs are meaning-based and balanced.

5. Assessment is reliable, valid, and ongoing. 

6. Professional preparation and development is continually provided for educators regarding linguistic and cultural diversity. 

from  Position Paper on Language and Literacy Development for Young English Language Learners (ages 3-8), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 2010

ESOL learners and literacy in the classroom

ESOL learners with basic literacy needs – where do I start? 
In this UK produced seminar, Judy Kirsh explores some of the different approaches involved in teaching basic literacy to ESOL learners who have no, or very little, literacy in English or any other language. She begins with a brief overview of possible approaches and theories of literacy learning, followed by a closer examination of the "language experience" approach. 

Making Language and Learning Work DVD 3 – Visual Arts, Year 5/6.
Using differentiated texts is when a teacher uses different texts with different groups of students rather than the same text with the whole class, while still maintaining the same curriculum learning outcomes. The text choice is based upon the student’s level of English or their first language. Effective differentiation is only possible with good assessment knowledge. Some of the texts used may be bilingual texts in order to support the student’s first language. The use of bilingual texts helps students to make connections to their own prior learning and experience, as well as supporting their first language.

Bilingual digital stories
Primary school teacher Bridget Harrison talks about using digital stories to support students with English as a second language.


English Language Learning Progressions
The English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) explain what ESOL specialists and mainstream teachers need to know about English language learners. They will help teachers to choose content, vocabulary, and tasks that are appropriate to each learner's age, stage, and language-learning needs. This may include learners for whom English is a first language but who would benefit from additional language support.

Working with ESOL learners with basic literacy needs
An article that examines who ESOL literacy learners are, what skills they may have, and practical ways to help them learn in the classroom.

Bilingual Assessment Service Information
This service enables state and state-integrated schools to access a targeted group of trained Resource Teachers (Learning and Behaviour, RTLBs) to administer bilingual assessments of the learning needs of students from language backgrounds other than English. A bilingual assessment can distinguish between language learning needs, additional special learning needs, and social/emotional needs, through dual assessment in their first language and English.

Funded ESOL students and Special Education services

Migrant and refugee background students with special education needs, including those who receive ESOL funding, are entitled to special education services available in New Zealand schools. They would need to meet the eligibility criteria for that particular service (for example, RTLB and RT Lit support, speech language therapy, ORS funding, Supplementary Learning Support). International fee-paying students are not eligible for these services.

The same applies for ESOL funding. A student who has any kind of special education funding is still eligible for ESOL funding as well, provided they meet the ESOL funding criteria.

Published on: 04 Sep 2018