Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School

This educator practice guide is part of the What Works Clearinghouse. From the IES abstract: “This practice guide provides four recommendations that address what works for English learners during reading and content area instruction. Each recommendation includes extensive examples of activities that can be used to support students as they build the language and literacy skills needed to be successful in school. The recommendations also summarize and rate supporting evidence. This guide is geared toward teachers, administrators, and other educators who want to improve instruction in academic content and literacy for English learners in elementary and middle school.”

Content Comments 

The recommendations in this guide emphasize four specific areas: academic vocabulary, content-area instruction, writing instruction, and small-group intervention. Specifically, the recommendations are: (1) teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities; (2) integrate oral and written English language instruction into content-area teaching; (3) provide regular, structured opportunities to develop written language skills; and (4) provide small-group instructional intervention to students struggling in areas of literacy and English language development. Although this is a lengthy document, it provides definitions, examples (e.g., vignettes, lesson plans, sample texts, and graphics), and practical information for educators to implement the recommendations made by the authors. For example, each recommendation has subsections called “How to Carry Out the Recommendation” and “Roadblocks and Solutions.” The authors also situate the recommendations with the Common Core standards when possible. This Educators’ Practice Guide provides helpful guidance for any educator who is concerned with improving the learning of English learners.