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ERIC Number: ED559633
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Helping English Learners Rise to the Challenge of Complex Texts
Walqui, Aida
The idea that secondary English language learner (ELL) students can master rigorous academic content quickly and deeply goes against much accepted wisdom in the field, but Aída Walqui--the author and Director of WestEd's Teacher Professional Development Program, which houses the Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) initiative--and her colleagues have spent the past 14 years developing and helping educators implement an instructional approach with exactly that goal. QTEL's approach works on the premise that students will rise to the challenge of rigorous subject matter if it sparks their interest, if they receive appropriate support, and if academic content and academic English language skills are taught simultaneously, as a single, integrated process. However, to master this instructional approach, many teachers need to make dramatic shifts in their beliefs and practices. This article discusses a pilot study that was conducted in five urban school districts nationwide through a partnership between the Understanding Language (UL) initiative at Stanford University and the Teacher Professional Development Program at WestEd. For field testing purposes, curriculum developers designed a five-week, Common Core State Standards-aligned English language arts unit on persuasive text and media messages that was aimed at raising learning expectations and experiences for ELL students and their non-ELL peers. One of the key lessons learned from implementation of the unit is that, although teachers can readily add productive activities to their instructional repertoire as a result of this training, more than just a few hours of professional development are needed to make deep and coherent changes to long-held instructional beliefs and practices. [This article was first published in WestEd's R&D Alert, Vol. 14, No.3, 2014.]
WestEd. 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-1242. Tel: 877-493-7833; Tel: 415-565-3000; Fax: 415-565-3012; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: WestEd