Understanding Multilingual 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 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 moving across languages, working with others, and learning about themselves and the world. When multilingual learners are encouraged to use all their ways of talking, being, and knowing to power their thinking and communicating, they engage more fully in learning and can contribute more to their classroom and school communities.

Multilingual learners bring many assets to the classroom:

  • Information and ideas that they have already learned
  • Ways that they have used languages at home with their family members and in their communities
  • Home and community experiences that can become the focus of standards-based, content-area instruction
  • 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
  • Brains that are flexible because they are always processing two or more languages and making connections across languages and cultures

Getting to know your multilingual students more deeply 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 with families is a great place to start this exciting journey. Learn more on the Creating a Welcoming Classroom page.

mother and girl listing to teacher at table

Family Engagement

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

claudia trillo

Featured Educator

“I believe that when students feel empowered by vocabulary and are able to make connections to their learning, they feel more successful and are engaged in their learning.”

Claudia Trillo, lead ELL Teacher
Duluth, GA

Read more about Claudia