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Six Key Ways Teacher Developers Can Support Educators Who Work With English Learners

To deepen expertise in teachers working with English Learners in secondary schools, the

National Research & Development Center to Improve Education for Secondary English Learners has developed six modules from which teacher educators can select components for courses or professional learning sessions.


Each 3 to 6–hour module focuses on a research-based topic derived from a series of conversations between Dr. Aída Walqui, Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)–funded National Research & Development Center to Improve Education for Secondary English Learners, and renowned linguists and educators from around the world who have made significant contributions to the study of multilingualism.


Available to be integrated into teacher courses or used as a whole, each module contains activities preservice instructors or in-service professional development providers can lead as well as links to related readings, video clips, and directions. The modules are designed to explore different domains of teacher expertise that develop as teachers grow, including the need to enhance vision, motivation, reflection, practice, and overall understanding of the contexts in which they work.


Introducing the modules to more than 100 English Learner coordinators and teacher educators nationwide during a webinar earlier this year, Eva Pando Solis, Coordinator of Multilingual Education and Global Achievement, San Diego County Office of Education, stated, “We believe these modules can be extremely helpful to teacher educators. …. They model scaffolding and engagement with complex texts in really productive ways.”


During the webinar, Heather Schlaman, Lecturer, Teacher Education, University of California, Davis and English Learner Specialist at California’s Yolo County Office of Education, added that—given that we want students to interact with texts while they are reading—“the modules do a nice job of showing how to do this with your students, beyond using graphic organizers.”


The six modules, organized by objective, are as follows:


  1. Understand the theories that underlie effective ways to support deep subject-matter learning for English Learners.

  2. Explore concepts of language and equity as they relate to English Learner instruction.

  3. Explore how the effort to develop “Critical Dialogic Interaction” or “Quality Interactions,” needs to be a central part of all coursework, especially for English Learners, in a constantly changing world.

  4. Explore the concept of “translanguaging” in the everyday practice of bilingual individuals and potential uses in classroom learning that can expand learner autonomy.

  5. Build awareness of an approach to designing curricula, instruction, and assessments in ways that draw on students’ home languages, cultures, and interests.

  6. Understand the responsibilities of teachers and principals according to law and policies regarding the education of English Learners in the United States.


The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, supports this research through Grant R305C200008 to WestEd. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. IES is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. IES is an independent and nonpartisan organization created by the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) of 2002, and it is the leading source of rigorous education research and evaluation. It consists of the National Center for Education Research (NCER), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). 




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