BML SMART Nurseries are Helping Families Raise Bilingual & Multilingual Children

BML SMART Nurseries are Helping Families Raise Bilingual & Multilingual Children


The Centre for Educators of BMLs is so pleased to share our latest global initiative, ‘BML SMART Nurseries.’ Aligned with our vision to spread expertise about bilingual and multilingual learners to educators around the world, this initiative provides special recognition to those nurseries who train at least 80% of their teachers in our 4-hour Nursery and Preschool Teachers course, ‘Bilingual & Multilingual Learners from the Inside-Out.’

This course fills a gap in training at a critical time when parents are thinking about raising their child with home languages, and often looking for the right advice and guidance. In many cases, nurseries (daycares, preschools, childcare centres) are the first places of support that parents turn to. However, most nursery or preschool teachers never receive any training to help them advise parents or understand the specific needs of bilingual children and families. Since there are so many myths and misunderstandings about raising a child bi/multilingually, it’s absolutely critical that parents receive the right information. Not having access to accurate information can mean that families’ home languages are not maintained. This can mean a child who had a natural opportunity to become bilingual, does not learn their home language and instead speaks only one language. Besides language loss, this can also mean loss of cultural information and connections to extended family.

Nursery educators can take our 4-hour, online course and with 80% or more of their staff trained, can become recognised as a nursery with enhanced expertise in bilingual and multilingual learners, a ‘BML SMART Nursery.’

Confused About BMLs and Special Educational Needs?

Confused About BMLs and Special Educational Needs?

If you’re working in a state-regulated school, you will typically find all kinds of documentation related to the provisions for students with special educational needs (S.E.N./Special Ed.) and bilingual/multilingual learners.

However, if you’re working in an international or private school where there are no regulations in your region, then this can make your role particularly challenging. Policies and practises in these schools often change with the Head or the staff in charge. This means that procedures can be transient or unclear to teachers from year-to-year; leaving a great deal open to individual interpretation.

Our bilingual and multilingual learners (BMLs, ELL, EAL students) are very vulnerable to being incorrectly labeled or referred to special education services. In fact, many of the behaviours, which teachers might typically characterise as a result of a learning disability or language processing disorder, can actually occur quite naturally in the context of BMLs’ developing language . This makes it critically important to have highly-trained teachers and leaders who have a solid understanding of these issues; since inappropriate policies or decision-making processes can actually lead to students being misdiagnosed. This, of course, can have serious repercussions.

One of the Biggest Challenges Schools Face with their Service Provisions for BMLs

One of the main questions to begin asking yourself when designing your service model for students with special educational needs is – are you qualified to do so?

This is a heavy question to begin with but it really should be. Issues surrounding special educational needs alone can be complicated at best; but extending them to bilingual and multilingual learners can add even deeper layers of complexity to the situation. For example, each and every school needs to have considerations that examine a BML’s language and medical background, if/when any concerns arise. This means that educators must know and understand whether the child in question has experienced a language switch; or whether they have had enough input in one language or another. These instances alone can play a significant role in understanding why BMLs might be experiencing particular challenges in the classroom. These kind of concerns can typically be dealt with effectively without special educational referral – simply by collecting the right information about the student and from the family on admission. Having these kinds of details (as well as other BML-specific issues) clearly written out in policies for all to follow, will ensure there are at least some basic ‘filters’ which prevent the inappropriate referral of BMLs to special educational services.

Designing the Right Service Delivery Model for your School

Another major issue we’ve seen with schools when designing their service delivery models for special educational support is that they create it as a ‘class’ that support teachers actively teach by default on the school timetable. While some of the supports teachers provide will be clearly useful, having this kind of strict model prevents specialist teachers from moving around flexibly to provide observation or guidance to teachers at the earliest stages of concern. Most specialist teachers do not have any flexible space in their timetable to move around the school or plan with colleagues. It’s actually much more advantageous for support teachers to have a flexible schedule where they can liaise with colleagues and plan a range of strategic interventions with identified students.

This kind of consultative model allows for a much faster and a broader spread of expertise to students and teachers, when they need it. However, designing an effective, wrap-around service like this needs careful planning, strategising and expertise.

What Can you Do?

If you are interested in developing a new student support service model or enhancing the existing provisions at your school, feel free to reach out to us. We have extensive experience working in this area and can provide you with everything you need to create sound policies, procedures and supports. Email us at:

Alison Schofield is an Educational Consultant and Co-Founder at the Centre for Educators of BMLs. She brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles as a behaviour therapist and disability support specialist, having worked closely with psychologists and psychiatrists. Alison has also trained as a special education teacher and worked as a Learning Support Coordinator during her time as an international educator. She brings this unique knowledge-base to her work with BMLs.

How Trained Teachers Become ‘Language Preservers’

How Trained Teachers Become ‘Language Preservers’

According to the United Nations:

“Every two weeks a language disappears, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.”  

This year, we’d like to celebrate the achievements of the schools and educators who’ve come onto our courses over the years. We’ve watched as they leave (often unknowingly!) as ‘preservers’ of students’ home languages and cultures. To all of you: please know that your good work will have a priceless, positive impact for many students and families.

To help kick off International Mother Language Day this year, we’ve prepared an amazing free resource for you and your school. Hint: it’s something to celebrate the local language of your country/region AND you can do it together as a school community. Scratching your head? No worries, you can get the resource just by downloading it HERE. It will only be available for one week though, so do it quickly!

Also, watch our short YouTube video below. It explains what happens when trained teachers become language preservers and protectors!

If you’d like to learn more about our courses, mission and impact, visit our website:







Are you looking for a way to make a real difference in your school and with your students this academic year?

Do you want to TAKE ACTION and ACCELERATE the literacy progress of the BMLs (and all students) in your school, RIGHT NOW, without trying to figure it out all on your own?

We hear you.

These past couple of years have showed us that we need to focus more intensely on the kinds of learning experiences that have the biggest impact on students’ learning. One of the most effective ways to do that is through literacy. 

Why is that? 

Very simply – a student who has strong reading and writing skills is more able to independently access learning concepts and benefit from that learning. They continue to make progress, moving forward and reaping all the cognitive rewards that come from that progress. Sadly, the opposite is also true: students with weak literacy skills do not get to experience the full benefits of independent learning and can develop widening gaps over time. 

It’s clear that literacy is truly the gateway to educational success.

This year, we realised that teachers need EXPERT HELP and a PLAN to fast-forward their students’ literacy skills. That’s why we’ve developed the ‘High-Impact Literacy Coaching Programme’ starting this January.

In a nutshell, this Programme provides guided, step-by-step coaching with a team of literacy specialists. They will help you implement a solid plan for literacy acceleration in your school. It will take place over 6 live, online sessions, within a small group, between October 2022 to March 2023.

In the sessions, participants will jump straight to the ‘meat and bones’ with a fully-developed plan of action. This will provide them with the steps they need to take in order to start getting RAPID results. Each coaching session will target one specific area of focus. 

Throughout the duration of the Coaching Programme, you will frame your thinking around a whole-school or whole-department perspective; BUT you will only be required to work with a minimum of one group/class for implementation of the Plan. Then, moving on from that experience, you will learn how to extend your reach and impact so that you can use the same plan, across your whole school, on your own.

This Programme is for anyone in charge of, or concerned about increasing literacy achievement in their school; however, it is designed specifically for an educator who can implement and instruct students (e.g. this is not suitable for someone in a non-teaching role). For example, you could be:

  • a BML/EAL/ELL teacher or coordinator
  • a learning support specialist
  • a literacy coordinator
  • a language teacher or bilingual teacher (yes, even if you’re teaching another language!)
  • a primary teacher in charge of literacy development or;
  • a secondary English teacher

These are just a few possible suggestions.


This unique programme is made up of 6 LIVE, focused Zoom sessions with a maximum of 12 educators. Sessions run from October 2022 – March 2023. This Programme is run by our Co-Founders – Francesca McGeary and Alison Schofield – both of whom are highly-experienced literacy specialists and interventionists.

The format is designed around the ‘SHOW-GO-DO’ model which means that the consultants show you the PLAN and give you everything needed to GO and EXECUTE it (e.g. additional resources). Then, they ask you to follow-up (‘DO’) with those specified activities in your school. You’ll come back to the next session having completed the action; ready to share your results and hear feedback. There is always time for specific questions during the session.

You will have the month to follow-up with the activities. On average, you can expect anywhere from 3 – 5 hours of follow-up in the month.

This High-Impact Literacy Coaching Programme is designed with two goals in mind: 

1. To give you high-level, on-the-job expertise implementing a school-wide (or department-wide) ongoing literacy programme and;
2. To observe tangible PROGRESS in your students’ literacy development as a result of your focused efforts, in just a few months.

You can expect to walk away with new expertise that will allow you to increase your students’ achievement levels in reading and writing. Within the coaching timeframe, you will actually be able to see your students’ improvements and you will have a framework for replicating or scaling this success to a wider group.


  • How to understand your unique school/student body profile and why this matters as a starting point
  • How to gather, manage and pull focused insights from your students’ baseline literacy data and progress
  • How to implement a user-friendly system to monitor and track your students’ ongoing progress
  • How to provide short, intensive and focused interventions for any struggling or ‘stuck’ students
  • How to introduce, roll-out and maintain an ongoing reading and writing acceleration programme across any grade or year-level (from Grade 1/Year 1 and up)
  • How to scale your results from one class (or a smaller target group) to a wider group or even whole-school
  • How to provide momenttomoment minilessons in reading and writing to help your students move onto the next level of difficulty
  • Learn how to find and use the right resources without investing in expensive, pre-packaged programmes that are not always a fit
  • How to collaborate with colleagues to get them on-board with your Plan and strategy


The first session is on Wednesday, 26 October, 2022. Each session is one hour long. Depending where our participants live (timezone), we will announce the timings based on the Coaching Groups we create. Last year, we ran two coaching groups to meet the needs of different timezones of participants.

* In the first session, participants will select the remaining dates together for the following sessions.

The investment is £1,900 per educator and includes all the resources needed to get started. 

You can register by emailing Alison Schofield directly at by 7th October, 2022. 
Please note, space is limited!

Upon successful completion of the High-Impact Literacy Coaching Programme, you will receive a certificate. You must attend all sessions and participate fully.


Alison and Francesca have a wealth of experience working as specialist teachers in schools of all kinds. 

They have also been school improvement consultants hired to raise standards in teaching, learning and operations. 
Alison and Francesca also created and ran the Literacy Intervention Programme (LIP) in Dubai, UAE for 9 years – an intensive literacy acceleration programme for children between the ages of 4 and 18. Through that initiative, they helped over 1,500 struggling children accelerate their reading and writing skills with their unique techniques. 
This Coaching Programme will incorporate many of their tried-and-true methodologies.

If you have any further questions about the High-Impact Literacy Coaching Programme, please feel free to get in touch: 

The Most Essential Tech Tools & Resources for Teachers of Bilingual & Multilingual Learners

The Most Essential Tech Tools & Resources for Teachers of Bilingual & Multilingual Learners

Being a teacher of bilingual and multilingual learners (BMLs, ESL, ELL students) can be pretty challenging, even organisations in the conventional classroom setup. When the world is quickly migrating into the digital world, it can even be more difficult to meet the demands of an online learning space for BMLs (also known as English Language Learners or ESL students).

And so, if you’re lost in translation when it comes to setting up your digital classroom in the best way possible, just know that there are so many invaluable tools and resources that can help you make the best of online learning or even just blended learning within a typical classroom setting. Some have premium fees, while others are entirely free. Regardless, all of these resources provide free insights and content to upgrade your teaching. At the end of the day, every classroom is unique to its teacher and their learners, so only you can decide what resources are best for your students.

To help you out, we’ve begun to develop a comprehensive list of tools and resources that we’ll keep updating. If you have any suggestions for us, please send us an email to add your recommendation to our list (


We know parents want to be on top of their child’s education. TalkingPoints makes two-way communication with families, who are multicultural or multilingual, faster and easier. Similar to Microsoft Translate, TalkingPoints immediately translates text messages (on web and mobile apps) written in another language to a language that is understood by the recipient. There are about 100 home languages available for translation. Unlike Microsoft Translate, however, this tool’s interface is specifically designed for educators to connect with families (some of whom may also be from low-income or under-resourced backgrounds). This is a great tool for communicating effectively with your BMLs’ parents. Plus, it’s always free for teachers. 

Watch a one-minute video about Talking Points HERE.

Another platform that is designed to foster effective communication between teachers, students, and parents is Remind. In contrast to TalkingPoints, Remind allows teachers to communicate with families and students by scheduling class announcements, sending home updates and receiving ‘read receipts.’ The ‘preferred language translation’ option allows parents to receive messages in their home languages via translation. The free version of the platform gives access to basic messaging and team management, and the premium version gives more tools for smoother communication and language translation.

Plans available: 

What is translation resources talk without Google Translate? Not only is Google Translate very accessible to all, but it’s also a pretty nifty, web-based app that automatically detects the language of unknown words and/or phrases that you would need to translate to English. Using Google Translate is definitely fitting for teachers across all levels. Even middle school to high school students may find it very useful when doing their English language tasks and homework.

Another translation platform that one can try is DeepL Translator. DeepL provides both the web-based and computer app versions and allows you to upload your document files (in .pdf and .pptx form) directly into the platform for translation. Reviews say that you get a more cohesive translation instead of just the word-for-word translation that usually comes from other platforms.

For group interactions, Microsoft Translator may also come in handy as another translator. It’s excellent for translations in real-time – a tremendous game-changer in breaking the language barrier when having multilingual students. As one speaks or writes, the other individual on the receiving end may read the message in English (or whatever their chosen language is) and see what was said or written in another language. The conversation can include 100 participants for up to 4 hours. 

Classroom Games, Quizzes & Assessments

The traditional way of enforcing learning has been through flashcards, diagrams, study guides, and practice tests. Quizlet brings that online and offers quizzes that have helped numerous students prepare for homework and exams. Included in their language study sets are Spanish, French, and German. This tool is especially friendly for vocabulary study and voice recording. There are more topics to explore and choose from aside from language. Quizlet is a great resource to suggest to your students (or even for you to pick out an already-existing quiz to share with them).

If your school doesn’t have a paid subscription for any learning management system (LMS), you can always register your own Google Classroom. Google Classroom gives you the platform for posting learning materials, quizzes, and resources that easily integrate with everything Google and is fit for learners across all levels. If you want to explore what you can do with Classroom, you can check out this video by Pocketful of Primary.

Online teaching would inevitably include lesson videos, and lesson videos will always have the risk of being neglected and forgotten by your online learners. The solution? Track their progress and encourage them to finish watching the videos by locking them to your video page! At least this is the solution given to teachers only by Edpuzzle, an online platform where you could set up classes, upload videos, and provide check-up quizzes along the way. A unique feature of Edpuzzle is its ability to lock video viewers to the current tab they’re in and to add check-up quizzes as they go along your lesson video. Edpuzzle also allows you to see students’ progress by giving you a summary progress bar for your classes. While it can be used across grade levels, Edpuzzle might best fit middle school to high school learners who have already fostered a sense of independence in learning and would need little teacher guidance.

The British Council offers a lot of game-based activities for ‘ESL learners’ made for various levels. Board and card games that help students communicate in English while having fun with their classmates are available for free on the website. The majority of the games are suitable for younger learners, but the materials are easily adaptable for more advanced language lessons.

We educators have a game in mind with specific names, vocabulary, or phrases on our list. An easy way to make one is through Flippity, a website that conveniently turns contents from our Google Spreadsheets into a game. The site offers various games to choose from, such as classic flashcards, crossword puzzles, word searches, a matching game, or hangman. In addition to that, you can make quizzes where certificates are awarded in the end. It’s no surprise why teachers continue to love and suggest this resource.

If you’d like to do away with excel files and go straight to game-creation from your content, Wordwall may do that for you. In just a few minutes, one may create fully interactive activities. The students may access the designed activities through interactives that may be played on any web-enabled device or printables on paper or in .pdf format. They also have the feature of creating different game templates with the same content to reinforce a lesson. Themes are also available and customisable, which is a bonus.

These activities can be given as student assignments, shared with other teachers, the public, or kept private, while the results generated are system collected and tracked.  

Fun activities such as Whack-a-mole, which are great for younger children in kindergarten, are available, while more well-known traditional games are also available.

Another game-based learning platform is Kahoot! Inside are pre-made games you can choose from, while you may also make your games, which they call “Kahoots” – best played in a group setting. They promote student-paced learning or independent study, which is great for distance and blended learning. Other teachers may also encourage the students to improve their leadership skills by making their games relevant to the lessons and sharing them with their classmates. The variety of already available content they have is massive, including collaborations from other organizations or companies like Disney, Khan Academy, Angry Birds, Time Magazine, National Geographic, Nature Lab, Drops, and many more. 

Another classroom management resource is Classin. They’ve built this platform to help make better online experiences to result in better learning outcomes. The resource integrates online tools and services, such as putting live classes, group chats, cloud sharing, and assignments into one platform. A review from their site says: “The majority of the teachers found ClassIn to be the most effective at recreating the classroom experience and enhancing interaction between teachers and students.” Features in the platform include online homework correction, class discipline control, student attendance tracking, among many other tools. ClassIn has been well trusted by many organisations, including universities prone to high traffic (may even manage up to 600,000 students based on a testimonial on their site). 

“Great teachers spend less time marking and more time teaching” is the tagline of YACAPACA. With the advantage of advanced technology today, teachers have saved more time checking student papers, which used to take up so much time. Again, this website is operated by teachers to create automated assessments for students. This tool is entirely web-based; thus, any computing device (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone) can run this. 

Nearpod has premade courses partnered with educators’ favourite brands, including Quill, BBC, and Remind. You can use them as is or even customise them to fit the unique needs of your students. A great feature they have is uploading PowerPoints, Google Slides, and videos and then upgrading them with more interactive activities. You can start using Nearpod for free. 

Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step list of how Nearpod works: Link

Knowing what your students know and don’t know is also made easy by Naiku, meaning “teacher” in Lao. Personal assessment of each student becomes less of a challenge. Fast feedback is provided to students, while they may keep track of their confidence levels in answering questions and journal on what they do or don’t get right (or understand). This encourages student ownership and sharpens their thinking. The good thing about Naiku is that it is highly affordable and easy to adopt; hence it’s excellent for small schools and large districts alike. This platform may be accessed through any web-enabled device. It is teacher-friendly and student-centric. 

Grammar & Vocabulary

Grammar and language technicalities are things that are always vital to language learning simply because they are the base upon which one builds further knowledge and communication skills in the target language. Grammarly is a nifty tool to have one’s grammar and sentence structure checked and revised. It has a Google Chrome extension and desktop and mobile apps, making it relatively easy to integrate with all of your devices. Grammarly is not only helpful for checking your grammar when preparing lessons, but it’s also invaluable when checking essays and other written activities across all levels. is a vocabulary development website where you and your students can sign up and create a learning space. The website features different questioning strategies that help with the memorisation of a word’s definition. A friendly explanation of what the word means is also given before playing in,  with a virtual version of the flashcards game for learners across levels.

BrainPOP is a popular educational resource that also offers a curriculum with a great emphasis on Grammar and Vocabulary at ‘BrainPOP ELL.’. It includes: movies, quizzes, and games to make learning more interactive, engaging, and motivating. Lessons available are for any age, whether in beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, but is most appropriate for upper-elementary and middle schools. However, all may benefit and find the helpful tool. To help an educator get started with BrainPOP, one may take a placement test found on their website. The program is not only well integrated with games and lessons but well-organized to help maintain attention. Thus, it is conducive as a tool to both educators and students alike. 


Grammar improves writing. A fast and easy way to assess and improve your students’ sentence constructions is through Quill. Unlike the traditional pen and paper way of checking we once had, feedback is fast with Quill. Thus, the students can quickly self-diagnose and correct lapses in their writing and understanding of grammar concepts.  This tool is a game-changer for the advancement of writing and grammar. The resource is free and available for elementary, middle, or high school levels. 

The effectiveness of our students’ comprehension comes from the relativity of words they learn. Lexile Word Lists helps teachers know what vocabulary is most appropriate to their students or class according to their grade level. They provide a comprehensive, by-level word list tailored according to the academic concepts they are likely to encounter.

Others have recognised that adding words to their vocabulary can get tiresome through mere memorising. Students may have a distaste or lower motivation for learning complex language definitions which they may not necessarily understand. Infercabulary has addressed that concern by adopting a new approach to vocabulary instruction using semantic reasoning. Multiple images are used to illustrate a word that may be used in different contexts. The reviews on this platform are excellent. The tool is even said to have elicited higher-level thinking and improved motivation in student vocabulary-building. It’s also included in Google for Education as their build partner. 

Literacy: Writing & Reading Comprehension 

One of the main concerns teachers have is enabling their students to overcome the challenge of reading and writing alongside listening and speaking. A great way to help students hone their skills in these categories is to provide supplemental reading passages. CommonLit has garnered positive testimonials from teachers, directors, and students for their valuable resources and tracking system with stop and jot questions. The organisation advocates teachers using specific best practices for instruction, so; for that reason, their resources are flexible, research-based, and practical. The learning platform has been used in over 75,000 schools. CommonLit is mindful of students in the Title I category and students in Grade 3-12 level. 

Another well-recommended resource by teachers to help students have better confidence in reading and writing is Read&Write, available for all devices using Google Chrome, Windows, or Mac. Its features include text-to-speech with natural voices to choose from, word prediction to develop writing skills, picture dictionaries to understand unfamiliar words, audio maker, and study highlighters. The variety of support for students is great for language learners (both ELL and ESL) for even those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia or visual impairments. The only free feature of Read&Write is Text-to-speech; however, K-12 teachers get a free premium subscription to this toolkit. 

Great up-to-date, non-fiction yet high-interest, and in-depth articles accompanied by images and questions may be found in Newsela. Currently, the entire site is accessible in support of educators and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The availability of texts offered is varied for five different Lexile levels. The topic diversity of resources found here would be a great supplement to the educational curriculum one is adapting; moreover, there are student assessment tools in the form of quizzes, annotations, or writing prompts for every article. Many teachers truly love Newsela

Another similar platform for non-fiction reading is News-O-Matic (for K-8 classroom)

Project Gutenberg is a public domain resource that offers thousands and thousands of books, free for download. It gives you a wide array of English literary classics, a great way to start improving your vocabulary. Because many of these books are in the classics, they are most suitable for middle school to high school learners. * Please note there may be some copyright restrictions in different countries as their website states not all books have free copyright in each country.

Free Online Graded Readers offers one of the most extensive online libraries of graded e-books. Here, you can find plenty of ebooks in different digital formats: epub, fb2, Mobi, RTF, txt, as well as audiobooks in mp3 format. You can download the ebook of your choice, and if you sign up, you can read it online for free. 

(Other similar websites as resources for audiobooks: ESL Audio Literacy Books, ELL Audio Books)

Another reading resource for online books, best for elementary students, is Unite for Literacy. Students also have the option to listen to the recorded reading of the book in both English and a different language. Their library includes topics on family, friends, health, math, plants and food, technology, zoos, aquariums, animals, people, community, and many more. 

A great resource that provides free audiobooks and e-books is Epic, which has amassed several awards, such as Mom’s Choice Award 2014, Teacher’s Choice Award 2020, and Parent’s Choice Gold Award 2019, Best Educational App for Kids by Parents, and many more. Educators get more features for free and are enabled to have in-class integration, class rosters, assignment tracking and more. This digital library is excellent for kids in grades six and under. If you teach children in that age group, you wouldn’t want to miss out on using this resource. 

Barriers to educational equity such as inadequate funding, access to the internet, lack of parental hands-on support, and demographic location shifting have been taken into consideration by Footsteps2brilliance. It is a literacy platform that hopes to build a “Model Innovation City”, a solution that allows one to scale educational apps to an entire city cost-effectively. The platform uses bilingual (English and Spanish) tools tapping into visual, tactile, and auditory techniques. It makes learning fun and exciting for young children from pre-kindergarten to 3rd grade. It’s great because it takes advantage of using technology made readily accessible with the devices parents already have. 

While for the Spanish learners in Grades 3 through 8, trans-adapted lessons in Waggle may encourage their literature reading. Not only will English language arts and multilingual learners benefit from this, but also Maths learners. Students as young as kindergarten may already start using this platform as well.  The techniques adopted are research-backed and use proven approaches to student growth. Their persistence is rewarded. This adds to the motivation of the students aside from the platform’s utilisation of gamification and personalisation. A self-guided demo is available for interested educators to see how this fits in their curriculum for BMLs (EAL, ELL, ESL, students).  

Since now, we have been on our fingers typing more than we’ve ever had in our lifetime. You or your students may want to speed things up by upgrading your typing skills. TypingClub is an excellent Google for Education Partner that addresses this need. Besides English, they even have other language series in Spanish, French, and German. Their interface is seamless, and so are their explanations. 

Conversation & Communication

Another way to assess your BMLs is through their conversations. A way to encourage them to start conversations is through Flipgrid. Community engagement and interaction may also be encouraged through this means as colleagues may view each others’ shared videos. The interface is simple, and best of all, free. 

Being able to correctly pronounce words in English may boost our BMLs’ confidence in speaking.  Listening comprehension may be improved through Languabooks. Listening to audio from native professional narrators with visualisation helps our students understand native speakers to learn better pronunciation and comprehension. Also, Languabooks provides visual feedback to a student regarding their speaking ability. Feedback is fast and appropriate. Thus, learning is accelerated. This tool incorporates the best speech recognition software available, which was originally developed for the US Military.  It helps learners speak so they will be understood. It is available for kids and adult English learners as well. 

A unique way to encourage students to communicate with your or their other peers is through Voxer. It is a walkie-talkie (push-to-talk)  mobile app with live audio messaging. The app is available on iPhone, Android, or on the web. Features include secure real-time communication, voice-to-text transcription, and chats with up to 500 individuals or team contacts. 

To quote from Peergrade’s site:

“Teachers may give good feedback, but sometimes students can give even more targeted and better feedback because they’re in the middle of the process as well.” – Jennifer Boyle

The great thing about Peergrade is that students can provide feedback to each other. This helps students to self-assess how to improve the quality of their own assignments through their peers’ insights which encourages students to sharpen thinking. It’s great for assignments that require writing, proofreading, and editing. The activity of giving feedback to each other makes learning together more memorable and dynamic for both the receiver and giver. Also, this saves educators a great deal of time.

Videos & Class Presentations 

Asynchronous video communication has been the primary mode of sharing our ideas in this generation. Especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been truer than ever before. Programs have been built and designed by teams and programme developers to support educators, workers, and individuals to help convey their ideas and discourse efficiently, fast, free, and accessible. 

Another simple way to record, edit, and share videos would be through Screencastify, which is the acclaimed #1 screen recorder for Chrome. It is a free extension to be added to one’s Google chrome browser to record at ease. One review even writes how it is the best flip class tool she has seen in her life. Sharing videos on Google Drive or Youtube is easy with this extension, and that’s why many people love it for its convenience, practicality, simplicity, and efficiency. 

A way to up your Google Slides game is the integration of Peardeck. It helps you create engaging instructional content, “effortlessly”. In the slides, teachers may provide formative assessments and interactive questions to know the status of each student. It helps teachers know who needs more help and those who do grasp the concepts discussed. With a premium subscription, teachers may even do more such as inviting other educators to their dashboard, leave feedback for students, and add audio to slides. 

StoryboardThat is also another resource that enables the easy creation of visuals, especially for sequencing, brainstorming and timelines. Integration of scenes, characters, infographics becomes easy since they have well-thought graphics to choose from. These visuals or storyboards may help simplify class lessons. There is also pre-made content designed for 21st-century students- to explore. Through this, visual communication is made even more accessible. 

Subject Learning

Sometimes, our students may want to enhance their learning by other means other than the primary resources we give them. Khan Academy is an incredibly great non-profit providing free, world-class education. Topics are well explained through videos. In addition, exercises to reinforce their learning are provided at the end of the videos.  It has been well trusted by students and teachers in primary/elementary (starting from Grade 1) even up to college-aged.

Since Shakespeare has been widely regarded as the greatest or most influential writer and dramatist in literature history, his works are continually studied year-to-year. The themes within his plays have been timeless. MyShakespeare offers “rich, full-text editions of Shakespeare’s plays” and includes interactive learning tools such as simplification of difficult words, recorded audio, videos, and a scene summary. This comprehensive platform should be a great resource for educators who teach Shakespeare.

Teacher Testimonials: 

Math is a universal language. It remains the same regardless of what culture, race, or educational discipline. Mathigon is a “Textbook of the Future” that provides interactive, visual, and personalised conceptual activities. This is perfect for Grade 6 -12 students as they have many tools to help support them in their understanding of complex concepts and problems. This is especially powerful for BMLs since it makes everything understandable through visuals and vocabulary support.

Another math program available for PreK-8 is ST Math, which helps students understand mathematical concepts regardless of their skill level or language ability. It teaches students by helping them to move from concrete to abstract thinking using the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability. The focus is on mastery learning, whereby students move from one level to another. The use of ST Math has been repeatedly shown to double or triple student growth in math proficiency. It has gained numerous awards and recognitions and is proof that this approach is a game-changer for teaching math. 

Back in the day, going on a field trip was such an exciting experience to look forward to. Today, with the onset of the pandemic, which includes many restrictions, these kinds of trips may be difficult to impossible. To add to that, if you have students living in various places around the world, shared experiences can be impossible. Museums have always been a great way of immersing people in an experience of culture, history, and art. It’s amazing that we can now take our students to explore the best museums from around the world, virtually, from the comfort of our homes.  Virtual Museum includes access to: British Museum in London, Guggenheim Museum in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Musée d’Orsay in Paris, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Uffizi Gallery in Florence, MASP in São Paulo, and National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.


As a teacher, it’s crucial that we keep our lessons, assessments, and other plans in place. Every teacher almost always has their own note-taking app, and then perhaps a couple of other staple apps along the way (like spreadsheets and word documents) to keep track of everything from lessons to personal matters. The great thing about Notion is that it offers you all these features in one solid platform. Notion is an all-in-one workspace for notes, databases, kanban boards, etc. The best thing? It offers a free personal pro plan if you sign up with your .edu emails.

Canva is a graphic design platform used by many startup businesses to create engaging social media graphics, but it’s also a beneficial tool even for teachers. It offers rich resources for design elements that you can use when making your visual aids. You can also do this by starting from their library of templates for whatever output you might need—from slides to infographic posters and even videos. Canva offers a free-for-life Canva for Education account that gives you pro features and other exclusive content for free if you sign up with your school email.

Whether you fall into the category of “more often than not” or the ‘every once in a while’ category regarding your use of photos and videos, Mixkit is a go-to for stock or royalty-free video clips, music, sound effects, and video templates. The available resources have been well-curated by Envato, a leading company catering for creatives. 

(Another stock-free resource for photos: Unsplash)

As teachers, we’re always called to up our game, and we’re constantly challenged to come up with new strategies and approaches to understand and teach our learners better. With the rise of digital learning, it’s only about time that we also start building our pool of online resources that won’t just help our learners but would also help us to enter our classrooms–virtual or not–every day a bit more empowered with knowledge and tools than yesterday.




Differentiating for BMLs at Different Stages of English Proficiency’


Get Access to this Webinar for 48 hours (from 7 PM, LONDON, UK TIME)


In this focused training, we help you get into the ‘mindset’ of differentiation – why you need to do it and how to implement it from a practical perspective. We’ll share the most important considerations to help you work smarter and with greater impact.

Working with diverse classrooms means that ‘differentiation’ has to be an essential approach at the heart of all your teaching and learning practises. This is actually one of the most challenging aspects of teaching since there are many ‘moving parts’ to consider. Ensuring that students experience the right level of challenge is important; and to do that we must understand our BMLs’ English proficiency levels. As a BML moves from ‘beginner’ to more advanced levels of proficiency, their needs for differentiation will change. This webinar will help you understand all these considerations and will give you practical tips and key takeaways, no matter what age or subject you teach!

This webinar is suitable for school administrators, teachers and teaching assistants. We’ll be discussing learning issues in the context of different age groups and levels.


Sign-up Now to Gain Access to this Webinar on Wednesday, 25th November, 2020!


  • What is ‘differentiation’? When do we need to implement it?
  • Differentiating for BMLs has specific considerations related to their English proficiency levels
  • Understand how you can make your lessons accessible by allowing multiple entry points into the learning
  • Learn how to ‘work smarter, not harder’ when it comes to differentiating for BMLs of different levels
  • Understand key learning principles and theories that underpin ‘differentiated instruction’ and why it’s valuable to dedicate professional learning to this area
  • See some practical tips, ideas and strategies for differentiating content with BMLs at different levels, grades/year-groups and English proficiency levels
  • Find out how to easily link assessment approaches to your differentiated instruction

#DIALOGUE 2: Recognise your BMLs’ Assets

#DIALOGUE 2: Recognise your BMLs’ Assets

There are so many reasons why you should shift to a ‘multilingual mindset’ with your bilingual and multilingual learners (BMLs, ESL, ELLs). Acknowledging that your learners bring rich linguistic and cultural experiences into the English classroom can really help them to be seen and valued.

Using asset-based language such as: ‘bilingual and multilingual learners’ or simply, ‘multilingual,’ can have a powerful impact in the way you view your learners.




The Literacy Needs of Bilingual and Multilingual Learners’


Get Access to this Webinar for 48 hours (from 7 PM, LONDON, UK TIME)


In this session, we’ll unravel key aspects of research and practise that are relevant to BMLs (aka ESL, ELL students) and their ability to thrive academically. We’ll dive deep, focusing on real action points that you can implement within your school and classroom, immediately.

In most cases, educators are not trained to understand the intricacies of literacy development with our BML population. Too often, focused literacy instruction is stopped after students have mastered ‘learning to read.’ However, as they shift to ‘reading to learn,’ they need more exposure, support and guidance than ever before. Since most BMLs tend to be ‘behind’ in their reading and writing skills as compared to their grade/year-level expectations; this means they need a special emphasis on literacy at each and every stage-even into secondary. This session will give you more insights about how you can make changes that will have your BMLs making leaps and bounds in their literacy progress.

This webinar is suitable for school administrators, teachers and teaching assistants. We’ll be discussing learning issues in the context of different age groups and levels.


Sign-up Now to Gain Access to this Webinar on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020!


  • Find out why BMLs’ literacy needs are different to native speakers’
  • Get to know more about the development of literacy and why BMLs can struggle at specific stages
  • Understand why acceleration is necessary for BMLs to make enough progress each academic year
  • Find out why some students have difficulties with comprehension and what you can do about it
  • Learn where to put your energy and focus for maximum impact
  • Discover why ‘instructional levels’ can make or break a student’s progress in reading
  • Learn the key strategies that can ‘change the game’ for your BMLs and their literacy development
  • Understand why literacy MUST be a focus across every age group
  • Find out about some recommended resources




‘Getting to the Bottom of your BMLs’ Barriers:
What to do if you Suspect your BML has Learning Issues’


Get Access to this Webinar for 24 hours, from 12 PM (LONDON, UK TIME)


This can be a tricky situation! On one hand you know these learners are just as likely to experience a special educational need as any other student; yet, you also understand that BMLs are found to be over-represented in special education settings. What can you do to support your learner and prevent unnecessary labelling or diagnosis of a learning disorder?

If you’d like more confidence in understanding the complexity of this situation with very clear action steps, this training is for you! Whether you’re thinking about one particular student in your classroom or considering building stronger policies for your school, you’ll gain actionable takeaways.

This webinar is suitable for school administrators, teachers and teaching assistants. We’ll be discussing learning issues in the context of different age groups and levels.


Sign-up Now to Gain Access to this Webinar on Wednesday, 30th September, 2020!


  • You’ll understand WHY this information is so critical for every educator to grasp
  • Learn about the range of ‘typical’ language acquisition in BMLs and areas they can expect to struggle across different stages
  • Understand how BMLs can display a range of observable behaviours that can mimic a learning disorder
  • Learn about cultural bias and other key testing considerations ; understand why standardised tests shouldn’t be your first step
  • Find out how you can use ‘dynamic assessment’ and other types of evaluation to gain deeper insights
  • Get a practical plan of action that you can implement with your learner or even include within your school policies; this includes dynamic assessment

#DIALOGUE 1: Should BMLs be Serviced in Special Education/Learning Support Departments?

#DIALOGUE 1: Should BMLs be Serviced in Special Education/Learning Support Departments?

This session is dedicated to one of the most popular questions teachers have about serving their BMLs: can these students be supported within the special educational needs or learning support department? Our Co-Founders, Francesca McGeary and Alison Schofield, clarify this issue and offer 3 important considerations for schools and educators:

  • It’s not a good idea unless one essential condition is met
  • This is an ethical and even legal issue
  • A suggestion is offered for schools to find a model of service that is well-established and sound

Watch the video below:

IDEA #4: Get your Bilingual/Multilingual Learners to Vlog!

IDEA #4: Get your Bilingual/Multilingual Learners to Vlog!

Over this week, I’ll be sharing 5 posts-all of them focused on ideas for online learning with your BMLs. Since some teachers have limited access to their students and learning materials at this time, these ideas are quick-win strategies you can implement right away. This is blog post #4 out of 5. You can find the others in previous posts.

Vlogging, or video-blogging, is a great way to share knowledge, thoughts and ideas with the world. Especially at this time, vlogging can be a fun and interesting format for students to share things about themselves and their lives more meaningfully.

Having students vlog to highlight what they’re doing when they’re away from school can be a powerful collective activity. This pandemic provides us with a unique opportunity to connect with other parts of our lives we may not have had time for previously. ‘Slow’ is the new normal and many of us are finding different experiences to keep us busy and enrich our lives. It can be the same for students and their families. For instance, some are discovering cooking and baking; some are learning new hobbies like gardening or even playing board games. Vlogging can be a great way to bring spark motivation and interest amongst your learners and this can create a fabulous medium for conversation and discussion.


You might like to start your learners off with ‘a day in the life’ vlog and ask them to upload short videos with an explanation of the content. Right now, we’re all getting a little taste of what we thought the future might be like–having to use online channels for basically everything–to communicate, connect and work. Vlogs can actually help your learners build greater connection with their peers and families and can build up their proficiency with storytelling.

Storytelling with multimedia is a high-value skill in our New Economy; so helping students become skilled at telling their own stories is not a waste of time! Storytelling often involves sharing with a specific purpose and we want our students to see that they need to be clear on their purpose before they begin their project. Have them think carefully planning and executing the creation (and sharing) of their stories.

Once again, don’t forget to provide clear prompts that get them to focus on the right content for the vlog. For example, you might want to pose a question like, ‘How is culture an important part of our daily life?’ and then do some brainstorming with students before they go out and film. After, get them to make a list of 3-5 ideas and ‘storyboard’ the shots they want to film (e.g. sketch an image of what they want to film in a series of square boxes). This will help them be more targeted about what on what they need to capture for their short film.

If you want to dig deeper into vlogging and storytelling with your students, there are numerous ways to do that depending on what your goals are. You could consider time-lapse videos, interviews, silent pictures or even a ‘docu-series’. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could also have a ‘film festival’ with a ‘watch party’, judges and awards! These are just a few ideas but your students will certainly have many more if you brainstorm together.

Alison Schofield is an educator, consultant and co-founder of the Centre for Educators of BMLs. She loves sharing her expertise with teachers around the world. She’s especially passionate about literacy and learning approaches with BMLs. If you have any questions about this article or even an idea for another article, feel free to reach Alison at:

IDEA #3: Spark Learning with Home Languages & Home Activities for Bilingual & Multilingual Learners

IDEA #3: Spark Learning with Home Languages & Home Activities for Bilingual & Multilingual Learners

Over this week, I’ll be sharing 5 posts-all of them focused on ideas for online learning with your BMLs. Since some teachers have limited access to their students and learning materials at this time, these ideas are quick-win strategies you can implement right away. This is blog post #3 out of 5. You can find the others in previous posts.

Let’s face it, online learning can be a really stressful time for students, teachers and parents. There’s a huge learning curve and many educators are finding their BMLs are not as responsive or participatory as they’d like.

Engagement and participation are key elements of successful learning, no matter what style or format– in-person, online or blended models. Quality learning takes place when students are interested and motivated to demonstrate what they’ve learned . Both of these factors can be negatively impacted with online learning since many BMLs rely heavily on human connection and social interaction for support. For example, they often require gestures and social cues from the environment to scaffold their comprehension. This can be extremely difficult to replicate in online learning formats, especially if there are many learners in ‘class’ and several competing distractions to cope with.

As much as some wanted to believe that online learning would solve the ills of traditional education, this pandemic has shown us just how valuable face-to-face interaction with educators truly is. Online learning always presented a wonderful opportunity for student enrichment; but a human component was always going to be necessary. For BMLs, it’s absolutely critical.

If teachers aren’t able to reach their BMLs right now, it’s completely understandable. There are just so many ups-and-downs. One day might be productive and students manage to participate fully; but then another might see students overwhelmed and unreachable. This unpredictability can take its toll on teachers who are naturally trying to over-compensate, even trying to connect with BMLs in a multitude of different ways–through phone calls, chats or regular emails, for instance. The lengths that many teachers are going through to connect with their students is truly inspiring but in many ways, unsustainable.

Considering all these issues, teachers should feel free to embrace non-traditional forms of learning. For some who may not be used to incorporating students’ home languages into their teaching, there’s never been a better time! Since many BMLs have strong home languages and are even literate in those languages, this makes it the perfect resource to support their thinking and learning.

I know it can seem counter-intuitive, especially if you’re supposed to teach your student English; but don’t forget that one’s languages actually support one-another. If you remember the CUP (Common Underlying Proficiency) theory from Jim Cummins, it explains how the linguistic knowledge and skills that an individual acquires in one language can be shared across all of their languages. When BMLs are using their home languages to research, think and discuss, that’s actually going to help them with their English development AND their concept-learning. Just that little bit of information packs a very powerful punch, especially considering these trying times!


  • Flip the ‘Classroom’: Have your students learn key concepts through some form of self-study before they come to the lesson. Then, instead of actively trying to ‘teach’ and break down these concepts, you’re able to ‘work with the concepts’ more actively as students already understand the background information. This could mean having deep discussions about specific concepts or getting students to create something based on what they’ve learned. The key to making a flipped classroom work is that you need to be sure you scaffold the learning expectations for them. BMLs often thrive with clear steps to follow so offer them a graphic organiser to record 2-3 key questions they have to research. This will give them the structure they need to follow through.
  • Write a Journal Entry: Have BMLs write in their home languages if they’re comfortable. Encourage them to explore a range of topics (either teacher-directed or student-selected) and then let them share some of their writing entries if they’d like. Students can even summarise what they’ve written in English (at their own levels).
  • Connect with a Good Book: Ask students to read a good book in their language. They might already have some books around the house but if not, they might be able to find some online books available to them for free (or a small fee) online.
  • Allow Students to Showcase Hobbies and Talents: Many BMLs are spending more time with their families; often speaking their home languages. This is great–not only for building their language skills but also for fostering engagement and shared experiences through those languages. Some children might be spending more time playing Lego, learning to cook, playing Backgammon or even singing and dancing. Think of different ways students can showcase their talents and home activities with their classmates. While we often think of traditional forms of learning as more valuable; play, creating and using one’s talents are just as powerful for personal and social-development.

Even if your BMLs don’t have a strong home language and prefer to use English, they can still receive many benefits from the activities above. These can facilitate independence and success, even if they’ve traditionally required more support from their teachers to break down their learning.

Online learning is not always an ideal solution for activating deep, connected learning for BMLs, or any students. However, these unprecedented times call for creative approaches that make full use of what we already have–different languages, talents, resources and role models. I encourage teachers to give themselves permission ‘let go’ a little and allow home experiences to take the lead in your students’ learning if it means they’re more engaged and motivated. Let students help develop their own learning plan ot outline a list of pursuits for the week. These experiences can then be the catalyst for more sharing and participation during ‘class.’ Parents too, might also feel they can better facilitate their child’s learning and development with this approach. It can even build family connection, reduce stress and increase happiness and well-being.

Alison Schofield is an educator, consultant and Co-Founder of the Centre for Educators of BMLs. She loves sharing her expertise with teachers around the world and she’s especially passionate about literacy and learning approaches with BMLs. If you have any questions about this article or even a request for another article, feel free to reach Alison at:

‘Multilingual-Positive Practises’ Replace ‘English-Only’ Policies

‘Multilingual-Positive Practises’ Replace ‘English-Only’ Policies

While a large population of bilingual and multilingual learners (BMLs) in schools used to seem like an issue only for inner city schools in capitals like London, New York, Sydney or Toronto, things have changed dramatically.  Now, even schools in rural areas are encountering more BMLs arriving and making up a large part of their student body. Even within international schools, a growing number of ‘local’ parents are opting to educate their children in English medium private schools rather than their own national systems.  As such, all teachers now need to have the right skill sets to understand the needs of these children and how to help them thrive.

A reality of our time is that school leaders and educators must come to terms with the reality of the changing demographic in the student body. Some schools are still teaching as they have always done, even while the cohort has changed dramatically. Many don’t recognise the urgent need (and benefits) of having fully trained, BML-experienced teachers within their classrooms; and those who do, often struggle to know what to put in place.

However, there are some great schools leading the way in the changes to how they’re supporting BMLs.  Administrators are looking for teachers with more BML experience when they hire, they make PD a priority and they ensure that mainstream teachers have the support they need in their classrooms. Great schools are aware that outdated policies and practises need updating in order to reflect their new teaching and learning approaches as well.  For instance, the ‘English only’ policy used to be thought of as an appropriate policy to encourage learners’ English language development-helping them assimilate into their new community and integrate faster.  We now know that a policy like this actually has negative effects because it devalues the home language and cultures of students. This can have a long-lasting, negative impact. Similarly, focusing on a curriculum which many BMLs cannot relate to, encourages students to look at issues through a ‘dominant lens’ rather than through multiple perspectives and world-views. Some schools are now starting to recognise that they need to adopt new policies and perspectives, going forward.

One of the biggest shifts schools need to make is to encourage students’ home languages as the foundation for learning. This is just as equally, if not more important, than simply having them learn English quickly. Children establish familial relationships through home languages along with a vocabulary base and important cultural knowledge. While many school leaders don’t realise it, they actually play a huge role in determining whether bilingual and multilingual families will maintain their languages or not. If the school gives the ‘English only’ message (directly or indirectly), parents can often switch to English at home, believing this is necessary if their child is to succeed in an English school. They believe that only one language should be prioritised. School heads and principals, like many other educators, often don’t learn the essential knowledge-base about language acquisition and why this is, in fact, a myth.

Another powerful teaching approach that all educators need to implement is making sure their BMLs receive comprehensible input. This means, in practical terms, that the instruction and content need to be made accessible for BMLs to learn and work at instructional and independent levels. This doesn’t have to mean more preparation or work for the teacher. That’s a misconception.  It does mean working smarter and thinking more creatively about how to deliver the learning to match students’ varying ability levels. For instance, a complete beginner in English could research the answers to questions that match the learning objectives or goals set by the curriculum but in their home language.  Then, depending on their ability level, they could demonstrate what they’ve learnt through performance tasks or group work, still benefiting from English exposure. There are multiple ways of adapting lessons and learning assessments. Teachers simply need access to these strategies. Training and support are often needed to be sure teachers are skilled enough to know how to do this.

With the increasing numbers of BMLs entering English-medium schools, it’s even more important to empower educators and school heads with the right knowledge and expertise. When they start to view bilingualism and multilingualism as huge assets and give students what they need to thrive, they’ll be helping BMLs become successful, positive contributors to a multicultural, multilingual world.

Photo Credit: Canadian International School, Singapore

If you’d like to enrol in our outstanding courses for educators, click HERE to see our course calendar and learn more. We also run whole-school and group courses for teachers as well as principal courses and TA courses.

Announcement: Our New Name & Location!

Announcement: Our New Name & Location!

We’re off to a great start to 2018 with a new location for our institute! We are pleased to announce we are now located in Canterbury, UK. During the move, we’ve had to modify our business name so we are now ‘Centre for Educators of Bilingual and Multilingual Learners Ltd.’

All of our courses and services remain unchanged and we hope our new move will enable greater opportunities and new partnerships.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or enquiries.

Alison Schofield & Francesca McGeary