English language learners and partnerships with families, communities, teacher preparation, and schools

Ana C Iddings, Mary C Combs, Luis C. Mol

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Students designated as English language learners (ELLs) are a rapidly growing population in urban contexts (Milner, 2012; Moore, 2012). More than 5 million ELLs from all over the world attend public schools in the United States and they speak at least 460 different languages (Kindler, 2002, in Rios-Aguilar & Gandara, 2012). It has been estimated, however, that between 80% and 89% of all English language learners speak Spanish as their home or heritage language (Goldenberg & Coleman, 2010; Gándara & Hopkins, 2010). These students are often immigrants or are born to immigrant parents and are mostly Latinos (Pew Hispanic Center, 2011). In this chapter, we address the partnerships between Latino immigrant families, teachers, community members, and university faculty toward the education of ELLs. We engage the concept of funds of knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992) to illuminate relationships between these students’ cultural, social, and linguistic repertoires and the institutional context of schools. In addition, we utilize Freire’s (1970) concept of praxis (awareness and action) as we pay particular attention to power relations as related to the literacy education of ELLs in contexts where historically underserved populations are educated. In so doing, we problematize educational ideologies, embodied in educational policies and school practices that can produce dialectical tensions between local household, community knowledge, and institutional structures. For example, the adoption of certain educational approaches or school rules and consequences about using first language and literacy during classroom instruction, reductive pedagogy, inadequate assessment tools can potentially pose such a tension. Alternatively, we advocate for an ecological view of learning and a comprehensive approach to the education of ELLs that begins with teacher education programs centering on the resources families and communities bring to the classroom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Urban Education
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781136206016
ISBN (Print)9780415634762
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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