Newcomer Student sitting on table

6 Steps to Help Your Newcomer Students in the Content Classroom at the Secondary Level

Do you have a newcomer center for your school or a newcomer program for your new students? Newcomer students face mounting challenges when they enroll a new school. Besides the obvious language barrier, they are facing culture and social challenges in their classroom. The challenges are even worse for secondary schools in the content classroom. Most content teachers are not familiar in dealing with these newcomer students. Here are 6 steps to help your newcomer students in the content classroom at the secondary schools:


  1.  Identify the newcomer students’ home language, literacy skills (in English and home language) and content knowledge level.
  2. Prepare your newcomer package with content area bilingual reference tools to help students communicate in the content classroom.
  3. Create a high frequency content area word list that newcomers might encounter in the content classroom. Combine this list with a reading intervention plan to help close the literacy gap.
  4. Develop ESL/ELD lesson plans to encourage newcomer students to discuss what they learn in the content classroom.
  5. Communicate with content teachers and help them understand the newcomer students’ needs.
  6. Connect with families and social services to help them adapt to the new environment.


  1. Pair newcomer students with another newcomer “buddy” who has been in the school longer.
  2. Help students understand the high school graduation requirements and developed postsecondary options.


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