This section of the website would love to be constantly ‘under construction’ because you are constantly contributing your favourite resources and/or ideas. Send your suggestions to the web manager [ ] 

It is easy to be overwhelmed when searching the internet for potential resources for working  with ELL learners. Print resources also cover a huge range of needs and learning environments. If you have a resource that you think is worth sharing, please let us know.

The resources listed here are sorted into the following four categories:

◊ BC Ministry of Education Documents

◊ To Learn More about supporting EAL Learners

◊ Student Resources

◊ Teacher Resources, Lesson Tips and Ideas

◊ Associations of a common purpose

You may also choose to hone in on a specific topic using the search box at the top right of this page.

 BC Ministry of Education Documents

English as a Second Language (ELL) services enable students whose primary language or languages of the home are other than English to develop their individual potential within British Columbia’s school system.

The primary goal of the British Columbia school system is to support the intellectual development of students. Enabling all students to achieve the goals of human, social and career development is a responsibility shared by schools, families, as well as the community.

Please see Policy and Guidelines below:

English as a Second Language: Policy, Guidelines and Resources:

ELL Policy and Guidelines, 2009

(PDF, 1.56 MB)

Anglais langue seconde : Politique et lignes directrices, 2009

(PDF, 1.29 MB)

ELL Learners: A Guide for Classroom Teachers, 1999

(PDF, 716 KB)

ELL Learners: A Guide for ESL Specialists, 1999

(PDF, 556 KB)

ESL Standards (PDF, 2.42 MB)
Students from Refugee Backgrounds:
A Guide for Teachers and Schools
(PDF, 1.54 MB)


To Learn More about working with EAL Learners

Culture and Communication is one of the biggest challenges as we begin our work with students from around the globe. It is easy to mis-communicate without even speaking a single word. Much more than a different language is at play when members of diverse cultures try to interact successfully with each other. As teachers we need to know as much as we can about how members of other cultures prefer to interact with others and what their perspectives are on, for example, education. We  all know the rules of interaction and conversation are different in our own milieu depending on who the participants in that interaction are.  You would not speak to and interact with a five year old the  same way you would with someone much older. To work optimally with members of other cultures we need to understand something of their perspective on how it is appropriate to interact and communicate in a given situation. Some resources to help with this include the following:

To inform ourselves as much as possible in today’s world includes many options. Culture Grams used to be THE key reading and their succinct overviews were at least a starting point for teachers. They are still available for purchase but today access to information about peoples from around the globe is a few search words and mouse-clicks away. It is also true that the official website of a given country will paint the ‘ideal’ picture of what, for example, education is like there. The reality may be rather different. Taking what you learn through print and online sources with ‘a few grains of salt’ is always a good approach. Of course, having  the opportunity to actually get to know individuals from the area will deepen, extend and personalize your new knowledge and understandings – even if that also gives you a snapshot that cannot necessarily be generalized to the entire country or region.

Have you tried searching for information about a particular country and/or cultural group recently? It can be quite overwhelming and it is rather difficult to know what is valid, realistic and factual. To help you here are some websites that provide good information. Do remember that this information has been written from the North American viewpoint and may, therefore, contain not totally accurate interpretations of another culture and way of life. Still these are some good starting points. I have personally used the first link [CIC] to help my grade six and seven students practice their research skills. They have found the information ‘booklets’ fascinating.

Centre for Intercultural Learning [Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada]

This site provides a great deal of information on a wide range of topics related to communication and interaction styles. Topics include: conversations; communication styles; displays of emotion; dress, punctuality and formality; relationship building and many more.

Country Insights

BBC News Country Profiles: Full profiles provide an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries and territories, and background on key institutions. They also include audio and video clips from BBC archives.

 BBC News Country Profiles

CIA World Factbook: This site provides a great deal of information as above but also provides maps, flags and country comparisons.

CIA World Factbook

Online Guide to Educational Systems Around the World is hosted by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The focus here is on secondary and post-secondary credentials to qualify for international study. Of interest to us are the ‘marks’ equivalents – that is, what percentage range is equivalent to an A or B or C+? It is another reminder that this seeming ‘standard’ is not the same across countries.

NAFSA Online Guide to Education Systems

Many Roots, Many Voices is designed to support teachers, principals, and other education professionals at the elementary and secondary levels in working effectively with English language learners. In it, you will find a rich source of practices and strategies that can be put to immediate use in the school and the classroom. You will also find an in-depth exploration of the English language learner, and an annotated list of references and resources for further reading and study. It is a free downloadable resource from Education Ontario.


Judie Haynes created this blog some years ago. She has worked as an ELL teacher for many years, written books and articles and continues to update and add to her excellent website, aptly named Everything ELL. You can find short articles on topics of interest and many practical ideas.


Colorin Colorado is a collaborative site combining the resources of many. The section for educators is a collaboration between Reading Rockets and the American Federation of Teachers. The site has a great deal of information and ideas, as well as some excellent webcasts on topics related to working with additional language learners.

Colorin Colorado


WIDA [World Class Instructional Design and Assessment] supports academic language development and academic achievement for linguistically diverse students through high quality standards, assessments, research, and professional development for educators. In particular you may want to check out the English Language Proficiency Standards. These are updated each year and much is available online.

English Language Proficiency Standards


Another helpful set of standards – see the section under the Standards and Instruction tab are the “CAN DO” Standards. This checklist can be for the teacher or the student to see what has been accomplished at each grade level and what is still left to accomplish.       CAN DO Standards

Student Resources

This package is for true beginners, courtesy of Karen Beatty

Activities for Newcomers

Teacher Resources, Lessons, Tips and Ideas


Extensive Reading, reading A LOT for English as an Additional Language [ELL] learners continues as a very popular approach. Brenda Johnston, who teaches in New Westminster has contributed the following brief overview and website links.  Extensive Reading

Some sample student handouts and visual organizers: 5-finger-rule    ER Top 10


What’ s Sitting on my iPAd right now?

Isabella Macquarrie has kindly shared an extensive list – 50 suggestions – to help you engage your learners. While may of the ‘apps’ are not ELL specific, the potential uses to help build language are obvious. The entire list is posted on our blog at: Supporting TALL


Richmond School District has created an extensive online support document for those supporting English Language Learners. The ESL Resource Manual conveniently includes a ‘clickable’ table of contents so you can zero in on specific areas where you want to learn more.

Resource Manual


Jazz Chants

Created by Carolyn Graham, affectionately known as the Jazz Chants queen, these chants provide a wonderful way to practice oral language development as well as teach more specific skills such as grammar. There is now an extensive list of Jazz Chant books available as well as my personal favourite, Jazz Chants Fairytales . If you do not have access to the books, there are a number of video clips of Jazz Chants ‘performances’. In addition, Carolyn insists that anyone can create Jazz chants tailored to their particular clientele of students. To see an explanation and demonstrating of the creation process, click here .

Drama in the ESL Classroom

It is not news that infusing a bit of drama and word play into your work with EAL learners will support their oral language development. Finding ways to do that creatively and effectively is a bit more of a challenges for those of us not specially trained in drama. This website, created by Jessica Davis, a teacher in Arizona, is chock-full of tips and ideas. It provides detailed explanations, sample videos of the ideas in action and much more. A bit of browsing will have you wanting to try these ideas the very next school day.

Drama in the ESL Classroom


ALSO, don’t forget to check out [above]

Language Learning Games was a very popular session at the 2012 ESL PSA Conference. Here is the outline of the games. Zoe H Language Learning Games Handout

Associations that share our purpose

There are also other associations which share a vision similar to ours.

BC TEAL is the association of B.C. Teachers of English as an Additional Language.  Where we focus on K-12, BC TEAL is focused on adult education of English as an additional language.

TESOL is “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.”  We are not directly affiliated with the larger organization, though we have a common vision to support the development of English Language specialists for the benefit of English Language learners.  They have many resources and a fantastic conference every year.

Finally, don’t forget to check out Supporting T.A.L.L., a blog specifically for teachers of additional language learners in B.C.

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