- In Nebraska's Millard Public Schools, teachers serving English learners are supporting these students in math, English and other core subjects instead of focusing solely on English, as students may not benefit from regular English instruction if they are stressed about their other classes, District Administration reports.
- English learners have fewer opportunities to practice their skills now that schools have closed and students are no longer with English-speakers on a regular basis. Parents, who are often ELLs themselves, need support as well.
- Many parents request information be translated from English into their native language so they can support their children at home. The moves districts make now to address teacher-parent language barriers will be useful later when schools eventually reopen.
The transition to online learning is particularly daunting for ELL students. A December 2019 report by the U.S. Department of Education found few teachers assigned ELL students digital learning resources outside of class, providing a reference point to where things stood before the coronavirus pandemic forced a shift to online learning. Teachers who did assign digital learning tools also tended to use general education resources rather than those designed for ELLs.
Many teachers are going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure their students seamlessly adapt to distance learning during the pandemic. From delivering hotspots to hosting Sunday video chats, a number of efforts are in play to keep these students, and their families, included and up to speed with their peers.
Family engagement is particularly important during school closures, but that may present a further challenge for ELL families who struggle with English or may still be out of the home for work. Immigrant Connections has compiled a list of videos, articles and clips to share with non-English-speaking parents to help them support their children.