Multilingual is the New Mainstream
Did you know that English Learners (ELs) are the fastest growing student subgroup across the United States1, representing over 400 languages in U.S. schools2? While mostly second generation (U.S.-born3), ELs also largely comprise the immigrant school population that has doubled since 19904. In 2016, the percentage of U.S. public school students who were ELs was higher than in 2010 in 35 states and the District of Columbia5. With this rapid and widespread change in demographics comes a great sense of urgency for all educators to learn to respond proactively to ELs’ needs through effective professional learning6,7. With the EL graduation rate at a 62% compared to the national average of 82%8 and a general “culture of failure”9 that ELs experience, every educator shares responsibility for welcoming and supporting ALL students in this “new mainstream” of our 21st century schools. If you’re curious to learn more about the facts of EL growth in our schools, take a look at the list of references below or download this helpful infographic from Confianza’s collaborator, Learning Forward.
As a former teacher and now as a consultant supporting schools with growing EL populations, I see the trend of schools becoming more multinational, multicultural, multiethnic, and generally more multilingual in the U.S. and internationally and in urban, suburban, and rural settings. As the world becomes more connected, our society and schools, in turn, become more diverse as evidenced by the growing population of EL students from all backgrounds. That’s why I founded Confianza in 2015 and why right now I’m so excited to share our professional learning solutions for educators near and far through our new strategic partnership with Teaching Channel.
Confianza’s Professional Learning Solutions
At Confianza, we know how to respond proactively to these trends and how to capitalize on the cultural capital students and families bring to school. We know how to help educators realize that language learners present an opportunity, not a problem to be solved. Right now in our schools, every educator has the opportunity to improve mindsets and practices to be more culturally and linguistically responsive. We have the opportunity to support our language learners which, in turn, enhances the learning environment for ALL students.
Confianza’s professional learning approach is practical, competency-based, and focused on inquiry as a habit of mind. Our research-based framework of Equity, Language, and Literacy grounds all our training and coaching. Our team of consultants have directly coached and trained thousands of educators in fortifying their pedagogical, coaching, family engagement, co-teaching, and leadership skills across the U.S. and internationally.
Participants in our programs will learn vital approaches to supporting language learners, including:
- Moving from a monolingual lens towards a multilingual lens across an entire school.
- Empowering students by teaching (and leading) with a language lens for all content classrooms.
- Supporting students to assess their own growth and celebrate their own story of learning language and content.
- Clearly stating and scaffolding learning targets to guide all students, especially students whose language and culture are not matched to the school’s.
Mindset matters! In all our work with educators, students, and families, we promote the mindset of confianza. Confianza is a cultural concept in Spanish and other Latin-based languages that means “mutual respect and trust.” With a mindset of confianza, educators can recognize multilingual learners’ funds of knowledge, increase cultural and linguistic responsiveness, and build equity in schools (Moll, Amanti, Gonzalez, 2005).
Language and Literacy Practices for All
Another foundation of our approach is that every educator in a school, not just the language specialist, can — and should — integrate language and literacy instruction into their content area. What does this language-rich instruction look like? Here’s one example from a Confianza partner school in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Confianza’s mission is to improve outcomes in schools and organizations through cultural understanding, communication and collaboration.
“Confianza ‘translates’ research into step-by-step protocols for educators to immediately use in classrooms and professional learning communities.” – Tim Boals, Executive Director, WIDA at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison
GettingSmart recognized Confianza’s growing contribution in next generation tools and approaches for working with ELL educators in a white paper, Supporting English Language Learners with Next-Gen Tools.
Read testimonials from educators and how we measure our impact here.