In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • How Do English Language Learners Learn?
  • Learning through Interaction in the Classroom
  • Language and Culture in the Classroom
  • What is Academic Language?
  • Combining Language and Content Teaching
  • Teaching Young English Language Learners
  • Computer Assisted Language Learning for English Language Learners
  • National and Regional Standards-Based Assessment and English Language Learners
  • Assessing the English Proficiency of English Language Learners
  • English Language Learners and Special Education Needs
  • Teacher Knowledge
  • How Do Teachers Learn about English Language Learners?

Education Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
Carolyn Tait, Margaret Gleeson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 October 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0164


Linguistically inclusive pedagogy draws on the field of educational linguistics. It is focused on learning in formal education where groups of learners have a range of different language proficiencies, from monolingual to bilingual or multilingual. These groups include learners who may be seen as English Language Learners (ELLs), emergent bilinguals, language minority students, or those learning English as an Additional Language (EAL). These terms vary across different contexts and countries and may reflect the different ideologies underlying the approaches taken to the learning of language minority groups. The terms may also encompass learners at different stages of English proficiency and levels of literacy in their home language. This group is not a homogeneous group as ELLs vary in age from preschoolers (pre-K) to high school learners. They come from a variety of educational and linguistic backgrounds. For these learners, the language of instruction—English—differs from their home language. The imperative to understand and accommodate the educational needs of these learners has prompted a stream of research on linguistically inclusive pedagogy. This research informs new ways of understanding how ELLs learn through an additional language. In response, teachers whose classes include ELLs are challenged to implement pedagogies founded in an understanding of language for which they may not have been prepared during their initial teacher education. In turn, teacher education programs are beginning to incorporate these pedagogies for preservice and in-service teachers. This article introduces recent developments in this field both for researchers and practitioners. It also includes some seminal works that are foundational in the field. There is some overlap among sections.

General Overview

Hult 2010 notes that educational linguistics is a transdisciplinary field with reciprocal relationships that extend beyond the disciplines of education and linguistics. The field draws on research from different disciplines such as the teaching of science and the teaching of physical education. This article is organized according to key themes related to the learning of students from diverse linguistic backgrounds because works in this field appear in a wide range of journals rather than in dedicated journals. Audiences for these journals vary from researchers and educational policymakers to teacher educators and teachers. This teaching approach is founded on an understanding of academic English. DiCerbo, et al. 2014 frames that concept in a literature review. The notion of empowerment in Bigelow and Ennser-Kananen 2015 requires the classroom teacher to take responsibility for the progress of the English Language Learners (ELLs) and use linguistically inclusive pedagogy.

  • Bigelow, Martha, and Johanna Ennser-Kananen, eds. 2015. The Routledge handbook of educational linguistics. New York: Routledge.

    These editors consider an “advocacy turn” (p. 1) in educational linguistics. This concept of empowerment of teachers, students, and families is woven through the chapters in this volume and reflects directions in linguistically inclusive pedagogy in a global world.

  • DiCerbo, Patricia A., Kristina A. Anstrom, Lottie L. Baker, and Charlene Rivera. 2014. A review of the literature on teaching academic English to English Language Learners. Review of Educational Research 84.3: 446–482.

    DOI: 10.3102/003465431453269

    A thematic review of the literature that defines academic English. Empirical research on vocabulary, grammar, and discourse are synthesized along with a discussion of the features of language within different content areas such as science. These areas are then paralleled by review of the research on instruction for ELLs.

  • Hult, Francis M., ed. 2010. Directions and prospects for educational linguistics. Vol. 11. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science & Business Media.

    This edited book examines the provisions for ELLs to access the curriculum. Chapters analyze the intersection between research and the policies of inclusion for ELLs within mainstream classes, and the underpinnings of the knowledge in educational linguistics. There are challenges in undertaking transdisciplinary research to provide evidence for linguistically diverse pedagogy.

  • Spolsky, Bernard, and Francis M. Hult, eds. 2008. The handbook of educational linguistics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    The contributors to this handbook pull together the history of educational linguistics and show the reach of this discipline to educational policy, language learning, literacy, and research directions. This is a seminal work in the field.

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