“There is nowhere near enough materials for English language learners, all of our curriculum is for students who speak English. We need to make curriculum that fits the needs of all students.”
“The materials do not address specific needs or gaps in content knowledge as well as vocabulary and language acquisition.”
“[We] need more ways to connect to the English Learners' funds of knowledge, more authentic text that relates to their cultural backgrounds.”
From Virginia to Nebraska and California to New York, teachers told us the same thing: they can not fully rely on their current instructional materials to support their multilingual learners (MLL). These quotes reflect the many voices of a nationally representative sample of ELA and math teachers surveyed by Rand’s American Educator Panel and developed by San Diego State University and English Learners Success Forum researchers.
They are a small sample of the type of qualitative and quantitative feedback we are proud to publish in our newest national research paper: “Raising Teachers’ Voices: What do teachers say about how well their instructional materials support English Learners?” by Lynda Wynn, California State University, Stanislaus and Bill Zahner, San Diego State University, and published by English Learner Success Forum.
We know that high quality instructional materials can improve teacher instruction and academic outcomes for multilingual students. Research supports this premise. (Opfer, et al, 2018; Koedel & Poliko, 2017; Kane, et al, 2016; Chingos & Whitehurst, 2012).
We wanted to better understand how well current materials support multilingual learners’ (MLLs) needs and how well they incorporate research-backed practices. So, we went directly to teachers themselves, the individuals who actually use the materials. What we found at the national level is not much different than what we found in our earlier research from California, or in other states. But, it is just as challenging.
Our recent survey found that:
Our research did reveal some positive findings. For example, in general, teachers felt that their instructional materials support their teaching of grade-level content standards, particularly in mathematics. And, math teachers in grades K - 8 reported using instructional materials much more frequently to ensure students learn grade-level content than either ELA or high school math teachers.
However, we certainly found areas of growth. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that most teachers reported that their instructional materials are not designed with MLLs in mind and do not include the research-based practices that we know support MLLs. These practices include known strategies that provide adequate support to assess and improve language instruction and development, as well as using materials that are culturally or linguistically relevant.
From our work with practitioners, educators, and researchers, we know that all instructional materials should:
We know the types of practices that help improve teacher instruction and student outcomes for multilingual learners. ELSF has spent years testing these practices and developing guidelines to help educators and curriculum developers understand what makes high-quality instructional materials for MLLs.
As we state in the conclusion of this new research, it’s time we all work collaboratively and work towards “not only the creation of high-quality instructional materials that meet the needs of our multilingual learners, but also for the adoption and implementation of these materials.”
We know content developers and educators want to do this. Let’s work together to make it happen!
Here are a few steps content developers and educators can take:
Access our free guidelines to assess the quality of your current instructional materials.
Join us for our upcoming content developer webinars and events in which we share the national teacher survey results and best practices for implementing them.
Strengths and Missed Opportunities in Instructional Materials for Multilingual Learners
October 13, 2022 from 12 - 1:30 PM EST
Free Event: RSVP now
ELSF believes that every multilingual student should engage in learning that allows them to thrive. We partner with content developers who share this vision. Email us here to learn more.
Gain a deep understanding of what high-quality materials for MLL should look like so you can improve and adopt the right materials. Take the Pulse.
We work with state and local decision makers to help them better understand how to identify, adopt and implement instructional materials that are truly inclusive of MLLs. Email us here to learn more.