Supporting Recent Immigrants

If you have a student who has just come to Canada and has no BICS (basic intercommunication skills), let alone CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency), then you should start here! We have collected some resources that will help ease some stress you may feel about how to adapt your classroom and lessons for the new student. There are also ideas on how to integrate the student and what they will benefit from. Contacting your ELL teacher for support is another step because they can help you connect with a multi-cultural worker or an SWIS worker.


  1. Your first course of action should be to access their background knowledge, by having students share what they know in their first language. After they have completed work in their first language, have them work with someone or a tool, and then translate their work into English. This strategy can be done for various projects and tasks in class so that the student is engaged in the activity. Continue to use this strategy to access their background knowledge until the student is comfortable with completing their work in English.
  2. If you have access to technology, you can have very early beginners work with an iPad or computer to work on basic English vocabulary. There are also bilingual books available at Public Libraries that students can access for FREE.
  3. Another strategy is to use stickers or pictures to sequence their ideas. Then another student who speaks the same language can try to decipher their picture work.

This website gives tips on classroom set-up, helpful materials, and starter packs:

Organizing a Newcomers First Day

This package is for true beginners, courtesy of Karen Beatty:

Activities for Newcomers

Below is an Educator’s blog post that answers FAQ and ways to support a new ESL/ELL student in your classroom:

ESL Students in the General Classroom

Below is a personal blog post written by an educator in the Lower Mainland who is now training future ESL/ELL teachers at UBC.

Week One Learning Ideas