Understanding Language Learners

older students reading and writing at desks

Discover the value that each multilingual learner brings to the school community

Teachers of multilingual learners need to understand how to recognize their students' unique assets in order to create a learning community that develops their full potential. WIDA offers many resources to support you in understanding the strengths and needs of your multilingual learners.

The WIDA Can Do Philosophy highlights the assets that your students have developed in their homes and communities, including their languages, cultures, experiences, and social-emotional resources. When multilingual learners are encouraged to use all their assets to power their thinking and communicating, they engage in learning that is relevant to their lives and contribute creativity and solutions to problems within their schools and communities.

Multilingual learners bring many assets to the classroom:

  • Information and ideas that they have already learned in their home languages
  • Ways that they have used languages at home with their family members and in their communities
  • Home and community experiences that can provide a gateway for them into content topics, concepts, and practices
  • Interests and passions that they have, and what they've already done to pursue them
  • Previous successes they have experienced and can connect with in order to build their confidence in academic settings
  • The amazing ways that they navigate their various roles and identities through their uses of language
  • Brains that are flexible because they are always processing two or more languages and making connections across languages and cultures
     

Learning about the value each of your multilingual students brings to the classroom can transform the way you approach instructional planning. You may find yourself on a journey of discovery led by your interest in learning more about your students, their families and their communities.

Creating a welcoming classroom and engaging families in the classroom community and in their children’s learning is a great place to start this exciting journey. Learn more:

Creating a Welcoming Classroom

mother and girl listing to teacher at table

Family Engagement

Resources, including webinars and parent handouts, to help educators engage with families to support multilingual learner success.

small group of young teachers writing on a whiteboard

Choose a learning opportunity that meets your needs

WIDA’s professional learning opportunities cover a range of topics that address instructional practices for multilingual learners.

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Featured Educator

"Language learners each have a story to tell. It is our job as educators to value and honor that story by bringing it into the classroom." 

Jori Ruff, ELL Teacher
Baraboo, Wisconsin