Supporting ENL Students During Remote Learning

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Many teachers are engaging in remote learning experiences for the first time this school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we navigate this challenging time, teachers are scrambling to adapt experiences to better serve their students. However, the move to remote instruction has exacerbated the challenge of equitable access to resources and opportunities for students to learn. It’s essential to provide our students with well-supported remote learning experiences for their development and growth as learners. There are exceptional ideas and resources available for remote learning, but scaffolding our learning to support our English as a New Language (ENL) students is imperative to their success.

Scaffolding remote learning experiences to meet the needs of all of our students may seem like an impossible challenge, but if we are thoughtful and intentional about creating these experiences, we can create opportunities to engage our ENL students and provide them the best possible experience. Listed below are strategies and resources to assist teachers with planning and scaffolding learning to support ENL students.

Family Connections

If we want our students to be successful learners, we need to focus on making connections with their families. Strong relationships between school and home are paramount to student success. Open communication is critical to finding out what is working and what is not working during remote learning experiences. Use Google Translate to make sure printed communication and correspondence are in the student’s home language. Offer multilingual prompts so families can have conversations with their children about what they’re learning in the classroom. Screencast information or lesson materials using Screencast-O-Matic (reviewed here). Upload your screencasts to YouTube so students and families can turn on captions for the video and take advantage of YouTube’s caption translation function.

Oral Language Emphasis

Flipgrid (reviewed here) is a fantastic resource for students to engage in oral language. Use Flipgrid to record lessons for students and preview vocabulary terms for assignments. Students can record responses while you provide sentence frames for success. Visuals and videos help to deepen the students’ learning experiences and support them with academic language. Microsoft’s Immersive Reader (reviewed here) provides students the opportunity to have text read out loud to them in the language of their choice. There is a growing list of tools, like Flipgrid, that support Immersive Reader.

Breakout Rooms

Small groups in breakout rooms provide more opportunities to support ENL students with additional scaffolds and supports. Use videos to frontload concepts and materials and then connect with ENL students in breakout rooms to check for understanding. You can also create a vocabulary word wall to support the students and reference the online resource in your breakout room.

We know that ENL students learn best face-to-face. However, remote learning has become the “new normal,” and teachers are working hard to best help ENL students in distance learning environments. Join us tonight or check out the OK2Ask webinar archive of, “Supporting Students Learning English as a New Language (ENL) with Google Tools,” for more strategies and ideas for supporting all learners. How are you engaging and supporting ENL students during remote learning? We’d love to hear your strategies and resources in the comments below!


About the author: Kevin Bower

Kevin Bower has 18 years of elementary teaching experience, is a certified reading specialist, and teaches instructional technology to pre-service and practicing teachers. He has presented nationally, had his teaching practices cited in various publications, and published a collaborative article on infusing technology into the balanced literacy classroom. Kevin’s research interests focus on using technology to best meet the needs of students with diverse abilities.


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