Asset-Based Support for English Learners

Posted by Beth McKee, Instructional Initiatives Coordinator & Ivana Ivanovic, Communications Specialist on 6/16/2022 2:00:00 PM

It begins with a commitment from all

Creating opportunities for our English Learners (ELs) to succeed in all classes and across all content areas begins with access to curriculum, regardless of where students are in their acquisition of English proficiency. This begins with a commitment by all educators within a school community to provide access to rigorous content along with the necessary supports and scaffolds to the literacy and language demands that may serve as barriers to their students.

Using asset-based strategies to support ELs

Providing equal access and opportunity to high-quality instruction requires school communities to maintain an asset-based lens when thinking about their ELs. Instructional environments where EL thrive will:

  • value home language and integrate it into instruction. There is strong evidence that development of home-language promotes long-term academic success as well as English acquisition.
  • encourage genuine academic conversations. ELs need regular, authentic opportunities to use their second language for diverse purposes in order to develop communicative competence.
  • utilize the power of background knowledge. Background knowledge is the hook where new learning hangs. And while this is considered one of the most crucial practices in supporting learning, it is important remember that our ELs bring a rich set of experiences and perspectives as well. Linking learning to a students’ personal, academic and cultural capital is key.
  • provide multiple ways for ELs to access instructional content and to demonstrate their learning on assessments. Universal Design for Learning provides a framework that supports all students and compliments an asset-based approach to teaching English Learners.
  • encourage participation in extra-curricular activities. Extra-curricular activities including athletics, art and music class and academic and non-academic clubs provide ELs with supportive spaces to develop language and foster school connectedness.
  • engage and empower families. Families are invaluable stakeholders in our communities. Schools that lift barriers so that all families feel welcomed, valued, and accepted create environments where all students thrive.

Creating opportunity and equity for ELs

An asset-based approach to educating our ELs fosters a culture of belonging and creates an environment for academic, social and emotional growth and development. By providing rigorous instruction in all content areas, regardless of English language proficiency, school communities create opportunity and equity for their ELs.