Supporting Multilingual Students

According to the 2023 SFU Undergraduate survey, more than 45% of students speak multiple languages. SFU students, both domestic and international, are linguistically and culturally diverse, and bring local and global perspectives which contribute to a rich classroom experience for everyone.

Our English as an Additional Language (EAL) Consultants work with instructors to create learning experiences that support the academic success of SFU’s multilingual students. We focus on evidence-informed approaches to course design and delivery that address the diverse needs and assets of multilingual learners.

Effective Strategies for Instructors

Empowering multilingual students to succeed involves thoughtful adjustments in educational approaches. By adopting linguistically responsive pedagogy, instructors can create more inclusive and accessible learning environments for all multilingual students.

Some of the ways we can help instructors include:

  • Redesigning assessments, for example by reducing linguistic complexity in multiple-choice questions and rubrics
  • Scaffolding assignments so students are better prepared to successfully complete them
  • Surfacing understanding and usage of disciplinary language
  • Exploring ways to give effective and efficient feedback

Professional Development Opportunities for Instructors

We offer a range of programming to support instructors who teach multilingual students. This includes:

Linguistically Responsive Classrooms: Instructor Series

LRC:IS is designed to assist SFU faculty in supporting the success of multilingual students in their courses by boosting their own confidence in making classroom, course and assessment language more accessible, strengthening their role in teaching disciplinary language skills, and coming away with a peer-reviewed artifact to add to their teaching portfolio. The program consists of six 90-minute seminars, a one-on-one coaching consultation, guest speakers, and plenty of faculty driven discussion.

Multilingual Instructors Community of Practice

The aim of this new Community of Practice is to offer a space for SFU’s multilingual and international faculty members to come together to share classroom experiences, refine teaching expertise and build community through multilingual and international perspectives in a collegial and supportive way. We meet monthly, in person or online during the spring and summer terms, starting with the initial goal of establishing an organizing agenda responsive to the group’s needs.

Workshops for teams, departments and Faculties

We have a range of custom workshops on topics addressing pedagogical, linguistic, and assessment challenges to better support the needs of multilingual students.  Some examples of past custom workshops include:

  • Who is SFU? A conversation about our linguistic diversity
  • Supporting Multilingual Students: Inclusive teaching practices and strategies
  • Build Participation with Multilingual Students
  • Foster and Develop Academic Reading Skills for Multilingual Students
  • Giving Feedback to Multilingual Learners
  • Writing Assignments that Work for Multilingual Student Success
  • Course Design for Supporting Multilingual Student Success
  • Supporting Multilingual Students Online
  • Universal Design for Learning Framework

Choose from any of these or contact us to develop your own custom workshop.

Support for International Teaching Assistants

We offer support to multilingual teaching assistants through a workshop series and a number of Canvas resources which cover strategies, tips, approaches and resources for being a successful teaching assistant: Teaching Assistant Support

Canvas Resources

To learn more about how we can support you, simply book a convenient time to chat about your teaching needs by emailing Meet the EAL Consultants: Amanda Wallace and Eilidh Singh

Support for Students

The Student Learning Commons in the Library offer English as an Additional Language support for students.

Connect With Us

Book a consult via our webform.


Faculty testimonials

“I think faculty can feel overwhelmed when they realize their students need support with writing and language skills because they often assume they’re only going to be teaching subject matter. The EAL team can help faculty understand that academic literacy is an important part of teaching a subject and that explicitly teaching it makes for a better learning experience for all students.” —Joel Heng Hartse, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education

“All of our disciplines have their own unique terms and concepts, what I learned from the EAL team is that a big way we can include these students is by not assuming they know what these terms are and finding ways to introduce them." —Helen Love, Assistant Professor, Criminology

“Taking their program helped me to be more mindful of how we use language when we create a syllabus or exam, and take the time to make sure they are clear and accessible to all students.” —Mina Xu, Lecturer, SEE