Ways your school can use ESOL funding

This information enables schools to make informed decisions about the ways in which their ESOL funding could be used.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Principals and tumuaki
  • ESOL staff
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • Learning support coordinators and SENCOs
  • RTLB
  • Boards

The recipients of ESOL funding can learn of ways that they can spend their funding and how it might benefit their students.

Specialist ESOL teacher

In-class support

Having a specialist ESOL teacher in the classroom allows the English language learners to learn alongside their peers. The extra teacher scaffolds their learning so they can participate in the mainstream class programmes. If you have an ESOL teacher in your class, they can:

  • plan lessons with you, building in a focus on language and key vocabulary
  • work with a small group of students who need language and learning support
  • focus on teaching the English language learners about something the other students already know
  • provide roving support for students while they work on the class tasks 
  • teach effective learning and text-processing strategies
  • identify computer and web-based resources and activities.

Teaching in small ESOL groups

Teaching small groups works better than individual tutoring. For primary English language learners, a group of 4 to 8 is best; for secondary, 6 to 10 students is best. Group students with similar competency in English and from the same class or year, or the same team or syndicate.

Small group teaching can focus on a particular subject or curriculum area, and is best done at least 3 times a week.

Before starting, identify specific, short-term language and curriculum objectives. Think about ideas you can give the group so they can continue learning in their own time, like online self-correcting activities.

During the sessions:

  • share the purpose, the learning plan and the expected outcomes with the students at the start 
  • encourage student talk and talk as little as possible yourself
  • use curriculum-based contexts as much as possible and focus on learning within that topic or context.

Keep assessing each English language learner's progress to help you plan future sessions.

Tips on how to help English Language Learners (ELLs) in your classroom [DOCX, 13 KB]

Teacher aide or language assistant

Teacher aides or language assistants may be bilingual, multilingual or English-speaking only. If you have a teacher aide or language assistant in your class, plan carefully to give them specific instructions about the English language learners and tasks they are working with. They can help you by:

  • reading to and with a small group of students, with activities and discussion
  • developing key oral and written vocabulary in a specific curriculum, topic or concept area, through group discussion and using visual support materials
  • supporting first language translation to help learning
  • supporting English language learners to carry out specific learning tasks
  • preparing and organising ESOL resources 
  • supervising learning centres you set up, in class time, intervals, lunchtimes or after school.

Support your teacher aide or language assistant to complete the Working with English Language Learners training.

ESOL professional development

Bilingual resource people

Bilingual resource people can support English language learners and their families with their first language(s), and help school staff communicate with English language learners. You can use a bilingual resource person to:

  • translate for English language learners in class
  • regularly meet with students from a particular language or cultural group to offer support
  • translate materials for class use or sending information to families 
  • be a general support person and communication channel for English language learners and their families.

Extra resources

You can use ESOL funding to purchase resources specifically designed for English language learners. You and your teacher aide can also adapt existing resources, perhaps breaking tasks into smaller steps and adding new activities.

The ESOL Online site on the TKI website has an extensive range of material to support teachers with programme planning, including resources and units of work for primary, intermediate and secondary school.

Welcome to ESOL Online – TKI website(external link) 

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