High-Leverage Principles of Effective Instruction for English Learners

New college and career ready standards (CCRS) have established more rigorous expectations of learning for all learners, including EL students, than what was expected in previous standards. A common feature in these new content-area standards is their emphasis on students’ use of language to articulate and convey understanding of the content. The heightened role that language plays in CCRS presents new challenges for EL students and their teachers by calling for improved instructional strategies that simultaneously address language and content-area learning.

The purpose of this resource is to provide teachers of EL students with effective, high-leverage learning and teaching principles that can be incorporated into daily instructional plans and routines. Instruction that addresses EL students’ needs should include five key considerations:

  1. Determine and address the academic language demands of the lesson;
  2. Build upon students’ background knowledge;
  3. Design and scaffold deeper learning tasks that integrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing domains;
  4. Provide opportunities for student participation through extended oral discourse and structured collaboration; and
  5. Use formative assessment to support both language development and content goals.

The high-leverage principles for EL instruction presented in this resource are based on relevant research and most up-to-date literature on effective instruction. Each principle is accompanied by examples that illustrate its use. The resource concludes with an annotated classroom vignette that highlights the principles in action.