New Tool Kit Provides Resources to Teach Children Learning English

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the completion of the English Learner Tool Kit, designed to support educators in ensuring equal access to a high-quality education for English Learners (EL). This tool kit complements the English Learner Guidance that was released in January 2015 by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to remind states and school districts of their civil rights obligations to EL students and Limited English Proficient parents.

The tool kit was unveiled at Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Park View in Washington, D.C. On hand at the event were Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department; District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson; and John King, the Education Department’s senior advisor delegated duties of deputy secretary of education.

As teachers who work at the Department of Education as Teaching Ambassador Fellows, we are excited about the access this tool kit gives educators to clear-cut guidance and research on best practices in the field.

The EL Tool Kit is divided into chapters on topics such as identifying all English Learners, addressing English Learners with disabilities, and evaluating the effectiveness of a school district’s program. Each chapter can be downloaded separately and information is grouped into easy-to-find topics. For each chapter, there are key points and examples, as well as adaptations of and links to resources created and maintained by public and private organizations. By bringing together all these resources into one easy-to-use location, teachers, principals, and districts have an accessible tool kit full of free resources.

ED's John King talking with educators about the Tool Kit.

ED’s John King talking with educators about the Tool Kit.

Across the country, public school teachers serve more than 5 million ELs. As teachers ourselves, we can attest that being given a tool that provides support for closing the achievement gap between ELs and native English speakers is invaluable. Looking at this new resource, we are reminded of the many EL students who have sat in our classrooms, bringing with them a rich diversity of languages, cultures, and experiences. As educators, we are hopeful that this new resource will make it less complicated to find answers about how to best meet the needs of our students and provide them with every opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

Aman Dhanda and JoLisa Hoover are Teaching Ambassador Fellows with the U.S. Department of Education.


  1. Love that as a blogger for Edutopia, I am able to be a part of many of those great resources being shared with new and pre-service teachers!

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  4. We are a small private school, seeing an increase every year in our ELL students. How can we get this toolkit?

  5. I think it is excellent that the needs of these students are being addressed as the number of students in this country who are learning English as their second language continues to increase. All too often the potential of these students is never realized due to the language barrier between them, their parents, and their teacher. Even worse, these students can be given up on or give up on themselves. While teaching a student with a different primary language may seem straight forward (teach them English, then teach them with the rest of the class), there are many intricacies involved. Many of us have no idea how difficult it is because we learned English at a very young age. Because the toolkit is available on the internet, it is a much more feasible option than hiring teachers that speak every language that is present within each school. I like that it is not about what to teach in the EL Program itself, but how to operate the EL Program.

    I do have a few questions though. How available will the toolkit be? How can you monitor if schools are actually using the toolkit? Will the toolkit be evaluated and revised over time?

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