English Language Learners - National Council of Teachers of English



Policy Brief: English Language Learners

ELL students are a diverse group that offers challenges and opportunities to U.S. education and to English language arts teachers in particular. This NCTE Policy Research Brief addresses some common myths and provides research-based recommendations for effective ELL instruction.

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Blog Posts


Culturally Responsive Teaching in Today’s Classrooms

Member Valentina Gonzalez offers a number of recommendations to ensure a culturally responsive classroom and respecting each student’s unique culture.

ESL, ELL, Generation 1.5—Why Are These Terms Important?

The authors of a new strand of NCTE’s Principles in Practice Imprint, Teaching English Language Learners, explain why they (mostly) use the term English language learner in these books and then share a collaboratively-written glossary of commonly used terms.



Beyond “Teaching to the Test”: Rethinking Accountability and Assessment for English Language Learners by Betsy Gilliland and Shannon Pella gives teachers the background and strategies to make their teaching and support equitable for ELLs. Examining how teachers can support learners’ reading, writing, and academic language development, and illustrated with examples of real teachers at work, the authors explain teaching for accountability, formative and summative assessment, and preparation for high-stakes testing, as well as provide suggestions for teaching, guiding questions for discussion, and resource recommendations.

Watch a video of Principles in Practice editor Cathy Fleischer talking with the authors about their book.

Read a sample chapter, “So They May Learn and Thrive: Accountability for Equity.”



Community Literacies en Confianza: Learning from Bilingual After-School Programs by Steven Alvarez directly addresses teachers who are learning about emergent bilingual students. The author offers ideas for approaching, engaging, and partnering with students’ communities to design culturally sustaining pedagogies that productively use the literacy abilities students bring to schools.

Watch a video of Principles in Practice editor Cathy Fleischer talking with Alvarez about his book.

Read a sample chapter, “Community Literacy Pedagogies: From a Translingual View.”

Journal Resources

On-Demand Webinars



3 Strategies for Reaching Language Learners in Literacy Workshops

Explore ideas to engage and instruct students in reading, writing, and language/word study literacy workshops even when you don’t speak the language of the student.

Confidence in Community Literacies: Bilingual Writers Reading the World

K-12 English language arts teachers can expand their knowledge of the literacy practices of English language learning students when they engage with their students’ communities in meaningful ways.

Making Meaning from Text: Modeling Comprehension for English Language Learners

Explore the difference between skilled readers and strategic readers and the role that the teacher must play in modeling and facilitating comprehension for students learning English and learning in English.