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Equal Access to Content Instruction for English Learners: An Example From Science

By Zoe Ann Brown, Kathy DiRanna


Gaps in successful outcomes for English learners start with the lack of opportunity to develop academic language: the words used in a classroom environment to discuss lessons and material. This gap creates other gaps—in achievement, college and career success, income, and language—creating a cycle of inequity.

This paper, produced by the Region IX Equity Assistance Center at WestEd, makes the case that equal and meaningful access to science education is critical for English learners to help close the achievement gap.

According to authors Zoe Ann Brown and WestEd’s Kathy DiRanna, quality science instruction helps students develop academic language skills in all content areas, boosting their overall performance in the classroom.

Through hands-on, inquiry-based science instruction, students:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas
  • Learn how scientists study the natural world
  • Gain experiences in speaking, listening, and writing

All of the above translate to building English learners’ overall academic language.

The authors offer suggestions for reforms in policy and practice at national, state, and local levels, as well as for teacher professional development.

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2012
Format: PDF
Pages: 15
Publisher: WestEd