Focus on American Indian English Language Learners

In this bulletin, WIDA presents guiding principles for educators working with American Indian students identified as English language learners (ELLs). These principles were identified in conjunction with Dr. Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, President’s Professor and Borderlands Professor of Indigenous Education and Justice at Arizona State University, and David O’Connor, American Indian Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The four guiding principles focus on:

  • connecting instruction to students’ culture and community,
  • connecting to students and their community through by listening to their needs,
  • building connections between the classroom and parents/community, and
  • demonstrating teachers as learners as well.

Included in this bulletin are vignettes from teachers that highlight their own classroom practices and experiences. The goal of these guiding principles is to recognize and foster collaboration among students, the school at large, and the community. 

Content Comments 

This bulletin on instructional principles for American Indian students who are also identified as English learners is a useful resource for all educators in understanding how students' language, culture, and community backgrounds can aid their learning and development. The concept of connecting content to context is especially important for American Indian students as it validates "students' ways of knowing and seeing the world, while still supporting their academic achievement and language development" (p. 3). This bulletin is organized around the four guiding principles, and in each principle is defined and supported by illustrative examples. Other helpful features in this document are a table of contents, call-out boxes for important terms, and a list of further reading and resources related to this topic. Additionally, included in this bulletin is a discussion tool with questions for individual reflection or discussion starters.