The readings here are focused on learning a new language. We hope they are helpful in building background knowledge, offering a fresh perspective on a familiar topic, or launching productive team conversations.


Dutro, S. (2016). Busting Myths about Integrated and Dedicated English Language Development. E. L. Achieve.


Saunders, W. and Goldenberg, C. (2010). Research to Guide English Language Development Instruction. Chapter 1 in Improving Education for English Language Learners: Research-Based Approaches. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

Saunders and Goldenberg synthesize existing research with the aim of identifying guidelines for effective ELD instruction. The authors begin with an explanation of what ELD instruction is and is not. Using data from six syntheses and meta-analyses, they present 14 guidelines organized by the strength of the evidence: 1) guidelines based on relatively strong supporting evidence from English learner research, 2) guidelines based on hypotheses emerging from recent English learner research, and 3) guidelines applicable to ELD, but grounded in non-English learner research. 

Goldenberg, C. (2008, Summer). Teaching English Language Learners: What the Research Does — and Does Not — SayAmerican Educator, 8–44. Washington, DC.

Goldenberg summarizes the significant findings of research on educating English language learners (ELLs). He condenses the findings into three key points: 1) teaching children to read in their first language promotes reading achievement in English; 2) what works for learners in general works for ELLs; and 3) teachers must adapt instruction to ELLs’ instructional needs. The author identifies gaps in research by highlighting three groups of questions that educators often ask regarding bilingual reading instruction, oral language development, and the best way to teach ELD. The article includes details on instructional modifications that can strengthen ELLs’ English proficiency and expand access to academic content.

Wong Fillmore, L. and Snow, C. E. (2000, August). What teachers need to know about language (Contract No. ED-99-CO-0008). U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Center for Applied Linguistics.

Why do teachers need to know more about language? This report provides a rationale, outlines five roles that teachers play, and argues that most educators haven’t had well-designed professional education to address the challenges they face. The authors specify the kinds of knowledge teachers should have about oral and written language. They offer a course list representing “a crucial core of knowledge” that teacher preparation programs should offer to future educators in order to address fundamental issues in the education of English language learners.

Zehr, M. A. (2009, October). Oral-Language Skills for English-Learners Focus of Researchers. Education Week.

Research shows that oral skills have been neglected in the education of English language learners (ELLs) and students who are academically at risk, even though oral-language learning is key to proficiency in both informal and academic language. Some schools are providing teachers with professional development to help students develop oral language. They are using tools and strategies to engage ELLs in the classroom.

Dutro, S. and Kinsella, K. (2009). English Language Development: Issues and Implementation at Grades 6–12. Chapter 3 in Improving Education for English Learners: Research-Based Approaches. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education. 

Dutro and Kinsella offer an approach to rethink English language development (ELD) instruction for adolescent language learners, based on current research and promising practices.They present a model for rigorous standards-aligned ELD instruction, give descriptive examples, and provide practical tools for implementing effective programs at the secondary level. The chapter focuses on explicit teaching of vocabulary and syntactical structures to strengthen students’ oral and written academic English and boost them beyond the intermediate level.

Dutro, S. and Moran, C. (2003). Rethinking English Language Instruction: An Architectural Approach. Chapter 10 in Garcia, G. (Ed.), English Learners: Reaching the Highest Level of English Literacy. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

This chapter lays out an early foundation for rethinking English language instruction that Dutro and E.L. Achieve associates have evolved over the past decade. The authors introduce a metaphor of a blueprint to describe a well-designed approach to English language development (ELD) instruction throughout the day that includes: Systematic ELD, front-loading language for content instruction (now Constructing Meaning: Explicit language for content learning), and maximizing the “teachable moment” (now fully developed into a vision of instruction). The authors describe the instructional theories and design components that are needed for rigorous second language teaching. They outline how to conceptualize an ELD program, how to design instruction, and how to teach English for academic purposes. 

Dutro, S. and Helman, L. (2009, April)Explicit Language Instruction: A Key to Constructing Meaning. Chapter 3 in Helman, L. (Ed.), Literacy Development with English Learners: Research-Based Instruction in Grades K-6. New York, NY: Guilford Publications, Inc.

This chapter examines the complexity of language development for English learners (ELs) and outlines what is needed for elementary school ELs to achieve at high levels in literacy tasks. The authors provide language development theory to help teachers gain insight into their students’ instructional needs, suggestions for structuring the classroom, and powerful instructional routines for teaching and practicing essential language skills. They define and explore an approach to explicit language instruction that encompasses identifying the cognitive task and teaching the language tools (vocabulary and essential grammatical forms) needed to construct and express meaning. 

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