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

Module 1 - Strengthening your role


Teacher aides and bilingual tutors often play many roles in our schools and it's likely that the the roles differ from teacher aide to teacher aide.

In this module you'll:

  • look at your role as a teacher aide or bilingual tutor
  • explore how the use of first language can support learning
  • find out about the importance of good communication between senior management the teaching staff and the learning support staff.

Refer to page 11 of your hand book to read the module introduction, or download the PDF of this module here: 

Woman at her desk.

Audio transcript

Kia Ora, I’m Rae Si’ilata.

It’s wonderful that, as a teacher aide or bilingual tutor, you have decided to help enhance English-language learners’ achievement. Many of you will work in a variety of ways, for example, on a one-to-one basis in a withdrawal situation, or with small groups in the classroom. Take some time to find out about the background of your students. Get to know them, the languages they speak, and the experiences they bring to every learning situation. They may surprise you!

Module 1 offers you the chance to explore key questions relating to your role as a teacher aide/bilingual tutor. Questions could include the following:

  • What skills do I bring to this role?
  • What support does the school provide?
  • How can I work more effectively with teachers?
  • What is my attitude and the school’s attitude to students using their first language in the classroom?
  • What knowledge and skills do I need to develop in order to assist ELLs more successfully?

Try to meet with your coordinating teacher and classroom teacher on a regular basis outside of class time. You can do this as part of your schedule to discuss your learning support role and to plan for the next topic. There is evidence that practice improves greatly when some of the timetabled teacher aide hours are available for regular consultation with classroom teachers.

Be sure to practise the suggested strategy in this module, Think, Pair, Share with your students. Discuss with your coordinating and classroom teachers the outcomes of using this strategy.

Please keep a record of all your responses in a folder particularly the Action Plan (Resource 1C), so that you can update your responses and plans during and after the programme.

Enjoy working through this module, completing the tasks, and using the Action Plan to set your goals for the rest of the year!

Learning task

In this module you have one task to complete.

Think, pair, share

This learning task will help your students become independent by giving them time to find out what they think or know about a topic before relying on others.

It should take you about 1 hour to complete the task, then discuss what you've written with your coordinating teacher.

Watch this clip to see students in a social studies class and to understand the importance of knowing the learner and encouraging the use of first language.



I have about four children who are bilingual, they speak their home language at home and also English. And approximately seven students who only speak their home language and are learning English.

Student - My name is Ali. I am from Iran. I’ve been in New Zealand for eight years. I speak two languages and they are Persian and English.

Student - My name is Andrew, I am from New Zealand. I speak three languages; English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Working with my buddy Jack is easier to do because we both speak the same language.

Student - My name is Vivienne. I am from Germany. I have been in New Zealand for some time and this time it is the four time I’m being in New Zealand. I speak two languages; German and English. Some words are for me a little difficult.

Student - My name is Sok Jan. I’m from Korea. I’ve been in New Zealand for six month. I speak two languages; one Korean language and last one English language.

The children who are bringing their first language into the classroom felt like they were the expert of that knowledge and when they shared it with others, it made it work really well.

Your role

It is useful for teacher aides/bilingual tutors to clarify their roles in discussion with the management and the teacher/s they are supporting. The best use of teacher aides/bilingual tutors occurs when the teachers and the support staff have a shared understanding about:

  • the importance of encouraging students to access The New Zealand Curriculum through using their first language to understand and process information and to explore ideas
  • the organisational factors that make the use of teacher aides/bilingual tutors more effective
  • the practical approaches and strategies that teacher aides/bilingual tutors can use to facilitate learning.

Next steps

The Next Steps section of this module (p12-17), has a tool that will help you and your school reflect on your role, and how you fit into the school community. There is also a template for goal setting.

Discuss the Next Steps section in the Handbook with your coordinating teacher then answer these questions about your learning from this module:

  1. What are three concepts and three terms you learnt in this module?
  2. What learning tasks did you complete in this module?
  3. How will you apply the learning tasks from this module with your students?
  4. What main issues did you discuss with your coordinating teacher?
  5. What do you need to find out more about and how will you do this?
  6. What do you need to do to prepare for the next module

When you've completed all of the questions, you've finished the module. Your coordinating teacher can sign off the module on the course completion certificate

Published on: 08 Jan 2018