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Ministry of Education.

Working with English Language Learners - A professional development resource for teacher aides and bilingual teachers

This resource has been developed to support the resource  Working With English Language Learners, a handbook for teacher aides and bilingual tutors (PDF 3MB) 

The handbook provides a series of short modules providing guidelines on how to enable schools to maximise the effective use of teacher aides/bilingual tutors supporting English language learners from migrant and refugee backgrounds.



Kiaora koutou I’m Rae Si’ilata.

Aotearoa, New Zealand is becoming an increasingly diverse place. This is reflected in our schools, where students may speak English as a second, third or even fourth language. Their bilingualism or multilingualism is a valuable tool for learning.

In order to maximise English Language Learners’ educational progress, managers, classroom and ESOL teachers, teacher aides and bilingual tutors need to work as a team. And you all need a shared understanding of the following:

  • The process of second language acquisition.
  • The vital role of your students’ first languages in educational achievement.
  • And also, best practice in terms of literacy teaching and learning.

Teacher aides and bilingual tutors are key to the success of English Language Learners in schools.
Many of you have a range of experiences and abilities that enable you to relate successfully to English Language Learners. Often you can make the difference as to how supported these students feel at school. They might be able to take risks with you that they won’t take with others.

I remember Sione, fresh off the boat, coming to me one day and saying, “Whaea Rae, Whaea Rae. Lok lok.”

“Who’s there?” I said.

“Will”, he said,

“Will who?”

“Will you marry me!”.

Sione was able to take risks with me that he wouldn’t take with others.

To enable these students to become successful you need to know how best to fulfill your role.

Your co-ordinating teacher has a vital part to play in supporting you through this programme by,

  • completing the training with you,
  • providing support,
  • creating opportunities for communication and planning with teachers and
  • ensuring effective use of teacher aids is shared within syndicates or faculties.

This ten module programme is designed to be used with this handbook - Working with English Language Learners. You can use a flexible approach when you’ve worked through this resource. You should allow about two or three hours per module and aim to complete one module, each fortnight, over two terms.

Short clips from the DVD - Making Language and Learning Work 3, will be used to support some of the key ideas in the modules. Each module has

  • an introductory section for reading and discussion,
  • at least one task which focuses on the key ideas and suggested approaches,
  • a summary of what the module means in terms of good practice,
  • some references to use for planning and
  • Next Steps, which encourages further development of good practice.

It’s important to track your progress through the modules. Make sure you print off a copy of the course certificate and get your coordinating teacher to sign it each time you complete one of the modules. Once all ten modules have been completed, take your certificate to your principal to endorse it.

All the best. Kia Kaha, as you begin this professional development programme. We hope that it gives you confidence and expertise to be able to work effectively with English Language Learners in your school.

Go hard and enjoy!