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One of the many overlooked (by people who are not ELL Newcomer teachers) challenges facing ELL Newcomer educators is the fact that we tend to get many new students entering our classrooms during the year.

For example, I’ve welcomed an average of one new student every two weeks since school began so far.  And most of our new students come with no previous background in English.

What are the best ways to welcome, integrate, and “catch-up” these new students?

My way is pretty simple.  Usually, I have one or two peer tutors who work with the new students, doing work we’ve previously done, and participating in what we’re doing in real-time when the activity can be easily modified or when they’re ready to access it.

I posed this same question on various Facebook groups for ELL teachers, and received permission to reprint some responses here (I’m adding this post to THE BEST RESOURCES TO HELP EDUCATORS TEACH ELL NEWCOMERS):


Margaret Lyon Smith:

We always practice introductions on the first day. Great speaking practice for everyone! We also have a tradition of teaching the newcomer to play Uno. I post anchor charts in Google Classroom. I have students come up to the board to review what we’ve been doing by demonstrating/writing. I also sometimes use an interactive video from isl collective as a group review activity. Volunteers go up to the Smart TV to select the correct answers.

We spent time labeling the classroom (in several languages) at the beginning of the year, so those are still in place.

I also have another student take them from class to class, show them how to get lunch/breakfast, etc. and help them navigate the basics of their Chromebooks.


Amy Halsall:

I have my previous newcomers teach the new newcomer the skills we just learned.

I also have anchor chart from previous units that are on 8.5x 11 paper. We use these as a reference and to teach the newbie.

At the end of the week, we review prior knowledge with a game like Kahoot.

I also use playlists to help cover vocabulary from prior units.


Gabriele Albrecht:

When I taught HS newcomers in a level 1 class and new students arrived I would use that opportunity to review some basic vocabulary, like months, numbers, days of the week. The “old” students appreciated the review or confidence in mastering something and the activities made sense to newest students as well.


Lynn Pape Fuller:

We have a first day of school routine no matter when the first day is! I find a student that has something in common with the new student (language, country, interests, age) but is well acclimated. That kid gives a school tour and introduces them to their friends. I talk to the teachers and task them with leading the student to the next class and finding someone to help them through the lunch line. Also, I find someone who rides the same bus and connect them. I also call/text the parent on the first day and let them know how things went and to reach out with any issues.

In Newcomer EL class we play a vocabulary game, and I try to do a team building activity.


Kate Lauderdale:

I usually sit them near friendly people. I ask one or two students to help them in the lunch room and to walk them to the next class. Lowering that affective filter is important. I might give them a packet of basic vocabulary to work through but I try to integrate them as soon as I can. I test them in reading and spelling (ELD) so I can put them into groups. We go over as a class the expectations.


Katie Duda Miller

I work with them during advisory/study hall/independent work time to help them get set with the *chromebooks* – logging in, changing their password, finding our LMS, how to see announcements/assignments in LMS, bookmarking important pages. All that digital stuff takes time, but is super important, so that the next day they know how to log in to find the classwork and play the Kahoot. Also pairing up with peer tutor in advisory/study hall (if I can’t work with them myself) to catch them up on previous topics. If they enter pretty close to the end of the semester, say end of November and the new semester starts beginning of January, we give them the option to repeat current level classes for English and math to get skills they missed.

And when we get new students, we’ll do a talking circle that Monday or Friday with introductions again “what’s your name/where are you from/what’s your favorite ___/etc”