Featured resource: Professional Learning Conditions and Practices

Supporting Early Literacy for Multilingual Learners

Literacy in English is essential to achievement in every academic subject—and to educational and economic opportunities beyond schooling. But learning and developing as a reader are more complicated in a language the reader is simultaneously learning to speak and understand.

To help multilingual learners read proficiently, leaders and teachers need to create the right conditions and leverage the right instructional practices to ensure those students receive the support they need.

Instruction Partners resources

Guidance and tools

Bridging Foundational Skills Between Languages
This document is intended to support educators in annotating their foundational skills scope and sequence and preparing lessons to leverage students’ skills and be responsive to their needs.

Foundational Skills HQIM for Multilingual Learners
This resource represents a synthesis of how to look for ML-specific strategies in foundational skills curricular materials. It can help identify where materials may have gaps so they can be supplemented appropriately to ensure that MLs have access to the tools they need to become fluent speakers, readers, and writers.

Leading Programs that Accelerate Language and Foundational Literacy
This document includes leadership strategies to help ensure that MLs receive quality literacy education, and sample student language frames to support language objectives aligned to specific foundational skills.

Linguistically Responsive Assessment Policy Sample
This sample assessment policy that provides guidelines for assessing foundational skills in English in a way that is responsive to all students and an assessment protocol that can be used to help ensure that multilingual learners (MLs) are not held back in instruction because of primary language influence.

Blog posts and videos

Common misconceptions about teaching multilingual learners to read
This blog post reconsiders widespread misconceptions that can keep multilingual learners from realizing their full potential in school.

Instructional strategies for ensuring multilingual learners learn foundational skills
These strategies support educators working to accelerate MLs as they progress towards reading proficiency and offer classroom-based examples that show how each strategy comes to life when working with students. Teachers can reference the strategies and examples while internalizing units and planning lessons then tailor them based on individual student needs.

Language objectives can unlock reading skills for multilingual learners
This blog post includes short videos of instructional leaders and teachers sharing how they plan to implement language objectives alongside foundational reading skills.

We asked students about what helps them learn to read. Here’s what we heard.
We surveyed students who are currently learning in multiple languages (i.e., students enrolled in  English language development [ELD] and/or dual language programs) about their learning experiences. Encouragingly, what we heard reflected the best of what we know from the research.

The Early Literacy Playbook

We created the Early Literacy Playbook to provide leaders with a game plan to implement proven early literacy structures and strategies, paying special attention to how teams can best meet the needs of multilingual learners.


Resources we're learning from

This framework from the Council of the Great City Schools outlines six guiding principles for the foundational skills development of multilingual learners.

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This collection of resources covers grade-level strategies as well as suggestions for teaching more advanced reading and writing skills.

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This 30-minute webinar from the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education focuses on how the science of reading can be applied to teaching multilingual learners to read and write in English.

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In this article, Suzanne Irujo discusses the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth in the context of her own experience as an ELL teacher.

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Learn with us

We customize our early literacy support model for schools with a high population of multilingual students who are learning English.

If you’re interested in becoming a multilingual learning partner, learn more and get in touch here.

Looking for more resources for supporting multilingual students?

We compiled a list of some of our favorite free and practical resources for centering multilingual learners in ELA, science, and math instruction.


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