English Language Learners


Generic classroom photo - Spanish/ELL

English language learners (ELLs) are students who are learning English and mastering academic content at the same time. There are 150,000 ELLs in the city’s public schools, and they are a diverse group. Among them, they speak some 140 languages. Some are newly arrived from other countries; others were born and raised in New York but do not speak English at home. They are in every grade and every borough. It is a rare teacher that does not have at least a few ELLs in class.

The school system offers a variety of instructional settings for these students — ESL classes, dual language programs and transitional bilingual education. ELLs are students in most content-area courses, too. State education law and New York City Department of Education policy govern some aspects of ELL instruction. Beyond those rules and policies, the UFT and the UFT Teacher Center have located and developed extensive resources to help educators succeed in teaching ELLs. Get a good start on them, below.

The DOE’s Language Allocation Policy is the systematic plan for language development that guides programmatic and curricular decisions for English language learners until the students acquire academic proficiency in English. This toolkit will help educators with this planning.

Resources and research for effective instruction for ELLs

NEW  Understanding Language

This website from the Stanford Graduate School of Education provides resources, research and professional learning opportunites (such as webinars and MOOCs) on supporting ELLs to meet the expectations of the Common Core.

Generic classroom chart - Spanish

UFT Teacher Center publications and resources

The UFT Teacher Center, the union’s professional development program, has published two editions of Centering on English Language Learners, which reviews current research on best practices for teachers of English language learners, offers experiences from teachers in the field and provides extensive web resources, too.

Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners

This report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York published by the Alliance for Excellence in Education in 2007 offers a wealth of resources to help adolescent English language learners master the reading and writing skills they need to succeed in high school, college, and the workforce.

Online Writing Lab, Purdue University

Purdue's Online Writing Lab maintains a repository of resources for ELL teachers, from professional organizations like the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language to teaching resources.

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

This national organization is a professional development resource for ELL teachers.

New York State TESOL

The New York State branch of TESOL supports ELL teachers in New York State with classroom practices, research, program and curriculum development, funding and legislative interests.

National Association for Bilingual Education

NABE's mission is to advocate for bilingual and English Language Learners and families and to cultivate a multilingual multicultural society by supporting and promoting policy, programs, pedagogy, research and professional development that yield academic success, value native language, lead to English proficiency, and respect cultural and linguistic diversity.

Colorín Colorado

Colorín Colorado is a free web-based service that provides information, activities and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners. It was created by the American Federation of Teachers, public TV and radio station WETA, the National Institute for Literacy, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. It includes instructional best practices, downloadable lesson plans, handouts and skill-building books, stories, activities and ideas. Sign up for their email newsletters here.

Make Beliefs Comix

Use this site to create comic strips. Choose from a diverse cast of characters. Select objects, scenes and emotions. Use talk balloons and thought balloons. Write in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Latin.


LibraVox makes books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. It is noncommercial, nonprofit and ad-free. Its catalogue is organized by author, title, genre/subject and language. Offerings include over a thousand non-English works in languages ranging from the usual western European languages to Belarusian, Bengali, Cantonese Chinese, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Yiddish.

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