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Scaffolding the Academic Success of Adolescent English Language Learners: A Pedagogy of Promise

By Aída Walqui, Leo van Lier

$27.95 $22.36


Too often, the needs of English language learners are met with simplified curriculum and lowered expectations. What would happen if instead classrooms were organized to honor the promise of these students by increasing rather than decreasing the intellectual challenge of instruction, by increasing the support such challenge requires, and by increasing students’ active engagement with their own learning?

This book is the result of a decade-long effort in school districts such as New York City, Austin, and San Diego to implement challenging instruction that is designed for classrooms that include English learners and that raises the bar and increases engagement for all learners.

Classroom vignettes, transcripts of student interactions, and detailed examples of intellectually engaging middle school and high school lessons provide a concrete picture of the instructional approach developed by coauthor Aída Walqui, founder and director of WestEd’s Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) initiative.

Underlying the QTEL approach and giving it coherence and power are three strands of instructional theory—cognitive psychology, sociolinguistics, and sociocultural learning theory. Coauthor Leo van Lier, internationally recognized author, linguist, and sociocultural theorist, lays out through clear and frequently wry examples just what these theories have to offer the classroom teacher, in particular the teacher of English learners.

An interview with Aída Walqui, Scaffolding Success: Five Principles for Succeeding with English Learners, is featured in the February 2010 issue of Language Magazine.

Resource Details

Product Information

ISBN: 978-0-914409-75-5
Copyright: 2010
Format: Trade Paper
Pages: 240
Publisher: WestEd

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Praise for this Resource

  • “¡Me encanta el libro! Incredibly valuable for both middle school and high school teachers.”

    Guadalupe Valdés, Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education, Stanford University
  • “Extremely useful and practical, with big principles to draw on and lots of concrete examples of lesson and unit plans. The transcripts from students’ conversations help us see how English language learners can and need to be engaged in rigorous work in English.”

    Laura Alvarez, former grade 4/5 bilingual teacher, Melrose Elementary School, Oakland, CA
  • “This lively and highly readable book illustrates in many ways the pedagogical principles it espouses for the classroom: it is invitational, challenging, and supportive. The book invites readers to reflect on current theories and pedagogical principles around the teaching of English language learners in content classrooms, and encourages critical reflection of these ideas through many examples of how they can be enacted in authentic classrooms. It offers many practical suggestions and examples of tasks and activities, and all teachers will find these useful. While aimed at supporting English learners, they are equally valuable for all learners.

    Drawing on sociocultural theory, social views of language, and a clear research base, this book presents a view of the learner as the person he or she has the potential to be, and argues persuasively for teachers to develop a strong theoretical basis for their practice.
    Teachers are presented as reflective practitioners, and their questions and concerns are evident throughout. One of the book’s strengths is the use it makes of authentic classroom examples, including transcripts of student talk and illustrative tasks and activities for developing students’ academic language and literacy. The authors’ discussions of these examples clearly exemplify the links between theory and practice.
    Overall the book illustrates a creative, current, and coherent approach to pedagogy and teaching, and challenges aspects of traditional curricula and assessment processes that have in the past limited learners’ potential.

    While aimed at practicing teachers, this book is also a valuable resource for professional developers, tertiary educators, and postgraduate students.”

    Dr. Pauline Gibbons, best-selling author of Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning and English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone