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Understanding Language

Supporting ELL Students in Responsive ELA Classrooms

image of Understanding Language


Engaging with critical questions such as What counts as language? and How can I know when a student is struggling with language?, Melinda J. McBee Orzulak explores how mainstream ELA teachers might begin to understand language in new ways to benefit both English language learner and non-ELL students learning in the same classroom.

Offering supportive teaching resources and ways to notice and understand the strengths of ELL students, McBee Orzulak outlines strategies for respectful and rigorous instruction for all students as we consider our own cultural and linguistic expectations. She also addresses responses to common curricular challenges such as: 

  • Structuring positive environments for students as both learners and adolescents
  • Providing a language focus in our teaching
  • Assessing the range of literacies our ELL students possess
To meet the needs of in-service and preservice teachers, unique features of the book include Key Understandings and Getting Started questions with each chapter, key practices linked to classroom vignettes, sample assignments, and lists of next steps and resources. Understanding Language provides a series of entry points into the NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs), focusing in particular on knowing and teaching all of our students—monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual—both language and content.

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