Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu
Linking to Learning

Online resources to support newcomers

New York Teacher
Online resources to support newcomers classroom

Visual dictionaries and audio tools can be used to support English language learners.

There are many exemplary online resources for educators looking to support newcomers.

There is no magic recipe to speed language acquisition, but becoming familiar with these strategies and tools and adopting them in your classroom will enable your newcomer students to make quicker progress.

ELL teaching materials

When I asked English as a new language teachers for their favorite online English language learner resources, they all cited Colorín Colorado as their top choice. Colorín Colorado offers a wealth of research-based activities, information and videos for educators and families. It has articles on ELL basics, a searchable classroom strategy library and materials specifically tailored to support newcomer students.

CUNY’s Initiative on Immigration and Education contains a wealth of information, including virtual professional learning opportunities for CTLE credits and multilingual resources for newcomer students.

The New York State Education Department’s Office of Bilingual Education and English as a New Language offers excellent guidance documents, including a comprehensive multilingual learner and ELL resource guide. The office also offers a tool containing specific linguistic benchmarks aligned with state learning standards to help teachers provide grade-level instruction to English language learners.

Bridges to Academic Success is a statewide curriculum-development project that aims to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of newcomer students with interrupted formal education (SIFE). The Bridges program offers free curriculum and teacher training to New York schools as well as online classroom resources.

Larry Ferlazzo, a teacher of English language learners in California, has been publishing classroom-tested resources and advice for years. His online collection includes topics such as culturally responsive teaching, activating prior knowledge and relationship building.

The UFT website has two helpful sections for educators looking to support newcomers: resources for English language learners and tips for teaching newly arrived English language learners.

Instructional tools

Because technology tools often include audio and video features, the following digital resources can help teachers create media-rich classroom activities aligned to ELL teaching strategies.

Leveled texts: Several websites offer text at different reading levels to make it more accessible for ELL students. Newsela adapts articles on current events to a student’s reading level, and CommonLit offers access to both nonfiction and fiction by reading level with built-in scaffolding and support.

Text annotation: Immersive Reader, a Microsoft learning tool, features text to speech, word and syllable highlighting, translation and a built-in picture dictionary. Immersive Reader is already integrated into Microsoft programs, but it can also be added to your internet browser.

Visual vocabulary: Providing visuals for key vocabulary can prime learning for ELL students. is a simple online picture dictionary that includes English pronunciation organized by topic. hosts a visual dictionary with higher levels of vocabulary words.

Audio integration: Mote is an extension for the Google Chrome browser that adds audio or voice comments and embeds them directly into documents, classroom assignments and Google tools like Classroom, Slides and Docs. Voice comments can be transcribed automatically and translated into more than 20 languages.