Welcome to the Future: Literacies and Languages for All - National Council of Teachers of English
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Welcome to the Future: Literacies and Languages for All

This post was written by Roxanne Henkin and Deborah MacPhee on behalf of the NCTE Conference Literacies and Languages for All (LLA), formerly the Whole Language Umbrella.  


As the result of the recent vote of our membership, the Whole Language Umbrella (WLU) has a new name. As we move forward as Literacies and Languages for All (LLA), our hope is that every holistic educator will find a professional home in our organization.

Literacies and Languages for All is in a stage of renewal and revitalization. Building on its foundation of holistic, meaning centered, and constructivist principles, we will integrate theories and practices of social justice; critical literacies; digital, multimodal, and biliteracies; and inquiry and project-based learning that embody the work of 21st-century educators. While we recognize that, as whole language educators, we have embraced these ideas and internalized them as part of who we are, as Literacies and Languages for All, we will make these connections more explicit to the larger community that embraces the practices that reflect these ideas.

Teachers all over are engaging in holistic practices, but do not identify with the Whole Language Umbrella. The legislation of narrowly defined research methods and scripted literacy programs over the past two decades has shifted attention away from holistic practices. Many teachers are whole language educators without identifying as such. We want these teachers to see that LLA may be the perfect professional home for them. By expanding our reach and welcoming the voices of early career educators, we will become an organization that is vital and useful within the field of literacy education in the 21st century. Such reciprocity between members and the organization will lead to substantial support and generative learning for us all.

Our new name, Literacies and Languages for All, draws on Carole Edelsky’s (2006) seminal work, including her book, With Literacy and Justice for All. We value all people and all children. We value all literacies and all languages. With the emphasis on all, we want to create safe places where all of our students can be heard, be nurtured, grow and thrive, and become productive citizens who advocate for change. We want equity for all in public schools. This name change is a step into our future. As we transform into Literacies and Languages for All, we participate in and witness our own evolution.

Moving forward, we will strive to be a space for educators who believe that ALL children deserve personally meaningful learning contexts in which their languages and cultures are valued and recognized as assets for learning; where children (not programs) are the primary informants of curriculum and instructional practices; and where teachers are positioned as experts who review current research and engage in collaborative action research as a continuous cycle of professional growth.

We want you, our membership, to be part of bringing this vision to life. Please add your vision and voice to the evolution of Literacies and Languages for All!


Roxanne Henkin is professor emeritus in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning & Teaching at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is President of Literacies and Languages for All (formerly Whole Language Umbrella) and also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of Teachers of English. Henkin was a co-editor of Voices from the Middle (2006–2011) and is the director emeritus of the San Antonio Writing Project. Email: roxanne.henkin@utsa.edu



Deborah MacPhee is an associate professor of literacy education at Illinois State University where she directs the Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy. She is currently president-elect of Literacies and Languages for All (formerly Whole Language Umbrella). MacPhee served as co-editor of Talking Points from (2013–2019) and will join the NCTE Executive Committee in November. Email: dmacphe@ilstu.edu