Tools to Include in Every EL Backpack 

language learners

Summer is close to an end, and the start of school is right around the corner. Soon students will have to return to taking notes, studying for exams, following a schedule, and completing homework. Multilingual/English language learners (ELs) have the added task of developing their English proficiency while progressing academically. 

No matter the English proficiency level, all ELs can follow some steps to be best prepared for the upcoming school year. First, it’s important to be organized and develop a strong routine before and after school. This involves students making sure to have all school supplies and homework packed up in their backpacks the night before. Class resources like notes, handouts, and worksheets could be organized into a binder with dividing tabs or separate folders for each subject. Students could also use a notebook, planner, or calendar phone app to keep track of their schedule and assignment due dates in order to ensure that work is done on time and thoroughly. 

To help increase English acquisition, ELs would benefit from keeping the following tools and resources handy:

  • a bilingual dictionary  or translation device to use at school as necessary in order to best understand course content
  • illustrated or annotated vocabulary or glossary lists
  • a picture dictionary that corresponds with vocabulary for particular subjects
  •  books to practice reading in English whenever there is some downtime at school to read
  • a list of common idioms and sayings in English 

These tools and resources are useful for students to communicate basic needs and wants with teachers and classmates on a daily basis. Also, they help to increase ELs access to academic words and curricular content. 

EL support at home is also very important. School-home connection activities help parents to actively participate in their children’s education. Also, encouraging parents and students to designate a place where homework and studying will take place every day will help language learners to establish routines and feel comfortable learning. 

Having the necessary resources both at home and at school will help ensure ELs success at school. 

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