Multilingual Learners and English Language Learners 

School Year 2020-21

For School Year 2020-21, your English language learner will receive support and services from their school based on their language proficiency level from last school year. There are a few exceptions. If your multilingual learners is new to the DOE, your child’s school can see if they need support learning English and may be identified as an English language learner. Reach out to your child’s school if you have questions or concerns about their program or services.

All multilingual learners, whether learning in classrooms or at home, will participate in culturally responsive activities. These activities will build their language development and help them understand what they are learning in school. The following table provides examples of activities your child will be take part in during their classes and a list of exercises and activities that you can use at home.

Examples of Activities for Multilingual Learners:

  • Reading culturally relevant and challenging texts to support understanding of complex ideas
  • Developing strategies to support comprehension, such as note-taking methods that your child can practice on their own
  • Engaging in discussions with classmates to build oral language skills
  • Using home languages to build knowledge and engagement with content discussed in class

Ways You Can Support at Home:

  • Watch short videos or reading texts together on topics students are studying in school
  • Have your child teach you about strategies they learned at school (for example, note-taking)
  • Discuss ideas in English or in their primary or home languages that relate to what is being taught in school
  • Have your child write letters to relatives in their home or primary language
  • Find ways to engage in language development together (for example, singing, watching TV, reading)
  • Have your child read independently at home or aloud to a family member

Steps to Support Your Child’s Blended or Remote Learning Experience

Take the following steps to best prepare you and your multilingual learner for their blended or remote learning experience.

  • Visit the Digital Learning Tools page to make sure your child is ready to access the Remote Learning Portal. Change the language settings on your devices as needed.
  • Connect with your school to understand how your child will receive their targeted instruction in English. Every school will create a remote learning plan for English language learners and former English language learners.
  • If your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), try some activities available on the Specialized Instruction and Student Supports page.
  • Continue to communicate with your school as you support your child. All schools are equipped to provide translation and interpretation. If the school’s communication plan does not work for you, reach out to your school to let them know how they can best communicate with you.
  • Visit our website for updates.

Supporting Your Child’s Learning at Home

As you and your child use the resources available on your Remote Learning Portal, try these strategies to best support your child.

Using a Device in your Preferred Language

You can change the default language to a preferred language on most computers, phones, and tablets. This option is often found in the “Settings” section of your device.

Changing the default language will allow you and your child to use digital learning tools in a preferred language.

Google Translate

Google Translate is a free application that is available on most devices. Google Translate can be used to translate text, handwriting, speech, and websites in over 100 different languages.

To download Google Translate:

  • On your computer, install the Google Chrome web browser. Google Chrome will already include the Google Translate feature.
  • On your iPhone or iPad, download the Google Translate app from the app store.
  • For Android devices, download the Google Translate app on Google Play.

Getting e-books in Different Languages

In addition to the resources available on your child’s remote learning portal, here are some ways to access e-books in multiple languages:

  • SimplyE is The New York Public Library's free e-reader app to borrow e-books. It is available on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android devices. Students over the age of 13 and parents of students below the age of 13 can register for a library card by using the SimplyE app. Make sure that location services are enabled on your device when signing up for a New York Public Library card.
  • The International Children's Digital Library Foundation (ICDL Foundation) provides free online books from around the world to both children and adults. Use the Advanced Search page to find online books by preferences such as language, age, and topic.
  • Sora provides a way for students to read digital books. NYC students can log in using their school credentials and instantly access hundreds of ebooks and audiobooks on virtually any device. All you need to get started is an internet connection and your school login. Begin your next reading adventure with just a tap.

Educational Resources to Support your Child’s Learning at Home

¡Colorín Colorado!

¡Colorín Colorado! provides free information, activities, and advice to families. Colorín Colorado is a bilingual website in English and Spanish and offers basic parent information in 13 languages.

Recommended pages:

  • Learning Together at Home includes ideas and activities you can try at home. It also has ideas related to math and science that are easy to try at home.
  • Parent Reading Tips by Topic offers articles on topics such as “Finding the Right Book for Your Child” and “Reading Aloud to Build Comprehension”
  • Raising Bilingual Kids includes articles on topics such as “Why Reading to Your Kids in Your Home Language Will Help Them Become Better Readers”

Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets offers activities, articles, and resources for families and educators to help young children become strong readers.

Recommended pages:


Audible offers stories in 6 different languages that you and your child could listen to on your computer, phone, or tablet. Audible is available at no cost during your child’s remote learning experience and does not ask for your payment information.

ST Math

ST Math is a visual math program that supports your child’s understanding of math through creative problem-solving. ST Math is available at no cost until June 30, 2020 and does not ask for your payment information.


BrainPop is a group of educational websites that offers short videos and quizzes for students. BrainPop is available at no cost during your child’s remote learning experience and does not ask for your payment information.

When you sign up for BrainPop, you will also receive access to:

  • BrainPOP Jr: for students who are between the ages of 5 and 9.
  • BrainPOP ELL: for students of all ages who are learning English. This program focuses on grammar and vocabulary.
  • BrainPOP Español: for Spanish-speakers who are learning English.
  • BrainPOP Français: for French-speakers who are learning English.

Getting e-books in Different Languages

In addition to the resources available on your child’s remote learning portal, here are some ways to access e-books in multiple languages:

  • SimplyE is The New York Public Library's free e-reader app to borrow e-books. It is available on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android devices. Students over the age of 13 and parents of students below the age of 13 can register for a library card by using the SimplyE app. Make sure that location services are enabled on your device when signing up for a New York Public Library card.
  • The International Children's Digital Library Foundation (ICDL Foundation) provides free online books from around the world to both children and adults. Use the ICDL Advanced Search page to find online books by preferences such as language, age, and topic.

Sesame Street in Communities 

Sesame Street in Communities provides families with multi-media tools in both English and Spanish for children ages from birth to 6. The site covers a wide range of topics, from building healthy habits to difficult issues such as divorce and hunger.

Learn at Home with YouTube 

YouTube’s Learn at Home partners with learning creators to bring families resources and activities. YouTube's Learn at Home Videos are available by different subjects and different ages. Most YouTube videos allow you to change the language of its captions. To choose a different caption language:
  1. At the bottom right of the video, click on “Settings”. 
  2. Click “Subtitles/CC”. 
  3. Select a language. If your preferred language is not listed, click “Auto-translate” then select your language. is a free game to build vocabulary. You can learn words and facts on different topics, including facts on the Coronavirus.

Building Bridges Day

Diversity is one of our most valued assets in New York City. As we reflect and check in on ourselves and each other, we want to take time to use world languages and cultures to build bridges within and among communities. We invited students and families to engage in “Building Bridges” Day on June 9, 2020.

The Division of Multilingual Learners (DML) has made culturally relevant and sustained instructional resources for students to explore. These resources aim to empower hidden voices in our communities. You can reach out to your school to get these resources.

  • PreK–2: Explore what it means to be part of a family and a community.
  • Grades 3–5: Explore what it means to be part of a family and a school community. Explore how they can use their voice within these communities.
  • Grades 6–8: Explore oral histories and voting rights to connect languages and cultures in NYC and United States communities.
  • Grades 9–12: Consider your role in the global community. Explore a student’s immigration journey and connect world languages with cultural understanding.

We invite students and families to explore their identities, perspectives, and roles within their communities. How are we individuals and at the same time part of a larger community? How can the actions of individuals and communities bring change? How can communities use languages and cultures to build bridges?

This is an important time in history. Students can use their own language and culture and the language and culture of others to build knowledge. When they do, students expand their world view and develop empathy through communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.

Print Resources to Support your Child’s Learning at Home

In Spring 2020, the NYCDOE mailed a selection of home language print learning materials to Multilingual Learners and English Language Learners (MLs/ELLs) without devices. The materials listed here were not mandatory and were supplemental to support student learning as they await devices. The following materials were mailed to MLs/ELLs without devices:

  • EnVisionmath 2.0, Math for grades K-5 in Spanish (as of April 14)
  • EnVisionmath 2.0, Math for grades 1-3 in Chinese, French, and Russian (as of April 17)
  • EnVisionmath, Math for grades 1-5 in Arabic (as of April 24)
  • engageNY Math for grades 6-12 in Spanish and grades 4-12 in Chinese (as of April 24)
  • Amplify Science for grades K-8 in Spanish (as of April 24)
  • Learn at Home Printed Materials in all 9 languages (as of May and ongoing)
Principals and teachers may access digital versions of these print materials, including family letters, where available:
  • For engageNY and Amplify science, go to TeachHub (Google Classroom). 
  • EnVisionmath 2.0 materials can be accessed via Pearson Realize. For access instructions, principals or teachers may go the Remote Learning Portal > Elementary Instructional Materials > 1st Grade > Math.
  • Learn at Home materials are available on WeTeach (DOE login required). 

If your family already requested a device, please refer to the iPad Distribution page. If your family has not yet requested a device for your student(s), please complete the remote learning device request form on that page.

Preparing Your Child for College and Career

All students, regardless of immigration status, can go to college in New York. In addition to staying connected to their Learn at Home school experience and School Counselor, they should identify ways to explore their interests, engage in test prep support and goal-setting, identify financial aid resources they are eligible for, and understand what environment they need to best succeed.

In addition to using the College and Career Planning resources available on the College and Career Planning page , try some of the following activities:

Make a Plan

It is never too early to start planning for college and career with your child. You can best prepare your child by helping them develop routines, explore hobbies, build their ability to collaborate with others, and know the steps to accomplish a goal.

  • Visit the College Board’s Big Future website to learn more about the different types of degrees and to access action plans that you can use with your child.
  • Overcoming Obstacles provides resources such as activities that help students with communication, decision making, studying effectively and more.

Explore Interests

  • Have a conversation with your high schooler about where they see themselves in the future and the possible ways of getting there.
  • Encourage them to take the 16 Personalities Test to better understand their strengths and areas for growth, and support them in developing a hobby.
  • Visit My Next Move with your child to explore careers that match your child’s interests. Learn about the skills, personalities, education and certificates needed as well as the estimated salaries for a career interest.
  • Continue to let your child know that speaking a language other than English is valuable in their career search and they should add all spoken languages to their resume. Speaking multiple languages is valuable for employers and life in a global society.

Prepare for College

  • The SAT and ACT
    • SAT and ACT: Most colleges require a standardized test score from the SAT or ACT. For a limited time only, Kaplan is offering free test prep with testing strategies, practice questions and quizzes. Encourage your child to sign-up and take advantage of this offering.
  • Financial Aid
    • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): Understanding FAFSA offers a How-To Guide for students and adults on the financial aid application process.
    • NYS DREAM Act: Although undocumented students cannot apply for federal aid, they may apply for aid in New York State (NYS) after completing and demonstrating eligibility for the NY State Dream Act Application. To learn more about the New York State DREAM Act eligibility requirements, review these Frequently Asked Questions which are available in 7 different languages.
    • Scholarships: DREAMer’s Roadmap is an app that support undocumented students in finding scholarship opportunities.
    • To learn more about options and resources to pay for college, visit the NYCDOE’s website .
    • Finding Your Fit
      • The most common degrees are a Bachelor’s Degree for a four-year college and an Associate’s Degree for a two-year college; also known as “Community Colleges”.
      • Use the US College Scorecard to research average costs, graduation rates, student demographic, and career majors.
      • Opportunity Programs: It is important to weigh all options when picking schools. Explore the different programs and services offered by colleges, including tutoring services, counseling services, technology loans, enrichment programs, work-based learning opportunities, and more. City University of New York (CUNY) offers opportunity programs for students such as SEEK, College Discovery and Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). The State University of New York (SUNY) offers Educational Opportunity Programs for select students.
      • Explore different colleges with your child using virtual tours. Many of the virtual tours are provided in languages other than English. 

Connect with Your School Counselor

  • Continue to connect with your school counselor online or by phone for additional support with your child’s individual college and career plan. You and your child can prepare by bringing questions about specific needs.
  • For your high school student, review the graduation requirements diploma worksheet and work with your child and counselor to understand what courses are needed and what enrichment opportunities and electives are available to help your child explore career and college options.
  • If you have a high school senior who is applying to college, continue to connect with your school for support. Also, visit the National Association for College Admission Counseling for updates on college events and due dates.

Learning for Adults at Home

We Speak NYC

We Speak NYC is the City’s English Language Learning program. We Speak NYC provides civic-focused instruction through videos, website and print materials, and free community classes. 

  • Join an online We Speak class to meet new people, learn about New York City services and resources, and practice speaking English!
  • Watch We Speak NYC videos helps English language learners improve their language skills, learn about their rights, and access City services. After watching each video, you can practice what you learned.

WNET Education’s Parenting Minutes

WNET Education’s Parenting Minutes are short videos that focus on key topics related to early childhood learning and raising children. Each video page contains shareable tips and facts, as well as links to more free resources and information. The videos are available in English, Spanish, Bengali, and Chinese. WNET Education also has fun activities and resources that families can use to support their children at home.

Voice of America (VOA) News

VOA News' Learning English program provides videos and materials at different levels of difficulty. Learning English programs are also broadcast on radio and satellite TV and posted at YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Community Resources

Guide to Community-Based Organizations for Immigrants in New York City

This guide provides a list of organizations throughout New York City that offer a variety of services to families of immigrants and English Language Learners. Some of these services include public assistance, labor and employment, housing, and safety.

This guide is available in 10 different languages:

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ Resource and Referral Guide

This Resource and Referral Guide provides information on services available to recently arrived immigrants. This guide is intended for use by New York City agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations, and immigrants who may benefit from receiving information and referrals to City services and non-governmental resources that serve recently arrived immigrants.

This guide is available in 11 different languages:

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