The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners


Debbie Zacarian & Judie Haynes

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  • Praise for the Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners

    The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners is a direct, concise, and straight-forward volume for practitioners serving newly arrived English language learners. It captures the assets and resources beginning ELLs bring into the classroom and focuses on effective educational responses for each group of beginning English learners, built around a solid understanding of key learner characteristics, including literacy levels, cultural characteristics, and other important learner factors that may come into play such as poverty and/or trauma experienced. The authors have created a useful working guide, supported by plenty of helpful examples and tools, which schools can use to facilitate professional development communities, following a structured book study process.”

    Nancy Cloud, Professor and Director of the MEd in TESL Program
    Rhode Island College, Providence, RI

    “At a time when the U.S. is experiencing a record number of English learners, this carefully researched, practical guide will serve as the primary support for both teachers and administrators seeking to do a more comprehensive job of responding to what is arguably their most vulnerable student population. Zacarian and Haynes provide a close examination of the diversity within the group of beginner ELs, who are often lumped together based on language proficiency alone.”

    Helaine W. Marshall, Associate Professor of Education, Director of Language Education Programs
    Long Island University Hudson, Purchase, NY

    “Debbie Zacarian and Judie Haynes joined forces again and created a much needed, comprehensive text in The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners. Students who are new to the English language and often new to the United States and the U.S. school system frequently encounter complex challenges, so their teachers need to be prepared and ready to help. This book will serve as an indispensable resource for teachers to tackle this task, and to do so with knowledge, skills, confidence, and advocacy for new English learners!”

    Andrea Honigsfeld, Professor
    Molloy College

    “More than ever, educators are facing large numbers of English learners, each coming with specific needs. The authors present a comprehensive text of how educators can and should work with these students and their families. Many of the strategies presented can be applied to other students as well. This book will be a valuable asset to every educator who wants each of his or her students to succeed.”

    Glen Ishiwata, Former Superintendent
    Moreland School District, San Jose, CA

    “This book is a must-read for teachers and administrators. It provides a comprehensive approach to helping EL students learn academic language, which is key to success in the content areas. This book provides an excellent opportunity for leaders as a book study with its guidance and reflections throughout the chapters.”

    Maria H. Gillentine, Title III Program Specialist
    Gwinnett County Public Schools, Suwanee, GA


    With a combined six decades of experience, we continue to promote the ideals of public education—to help students become active members and successful learners in their school communities and beyond. We dedicate this book to them and their families and to the educators from whom we continue learn so much.


    View Copyright Page


    This was our second project together and a great experience from start to finish. We could not have done it without the support of many people. Special thanks to

    • Dan Alpert, whose outstanding editorial support from inception to the final product was always positive, patient, and encouraging.
    • Sara Boyd, from North Kansas City Schools, for sharing her knowledge and stories about students from Africa with limited and interrupted formal education.
    • Monica Schnee, from River Edge Public Schools in New Jersey, who informed us about the learning needs of English learner kindergartners entering school in the United States.
    • Ken Pransky, from the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, Massachusetts, who expanded our thinking about culturally and linguistically diverse learners—especially those who have experienced cultural disruptions.
    • Audrey Morse, also from the Collaborative for Educational Services, whose background as a speech and language pathologist, an ESL teacher, and a teacher educator helped our thinking about English learners with learning differences and disabilities.
    • the many classroom teachers, specialists, and school leaders from across the country who graciously shared their work with us.
    • the external reviewers of the manuscript whose ideas and suggestions greatly strengthened the book.
    • Cassandra Seibel and Sarah Duffy, from Corwin, who polished our writing to make it shine.

    We spent many long hours collaborating on the Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners. We couldn't have written it without the steadfast encouragement of our families and especially our husbands, Matt Zacarian and Joe Haynes.

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Torii Bottomley
    • ESL Teacher and Trainer
    • Boston Public Schools
    • Cambridge, MA
    • Michelle DaCosta
    • Bilingual Resource Teacher
    • Framingham Public Schools
    • Framingham, MA
    • Glen Ishiwata
    • Former Superintendent
    • Moreland School District
    • San Jose, CA
    • Katherine Lobo
    • ESL Teacher and Teacher Trainer
    • Belmont Public Schools
    • Belmont, MA
    • Beth Madison
    • Principal
    • George Middle School
    • Portland, OR
    • Amy Mares
    • Coordinator for Bilingual/ESL Instructional Services
    • Region One Education Service Center
    • Edinburg, TX
    • Jen Paul
    • ELL Assessment Consultant
    • Michigan Department of Education
    • Lansing, MI

    About the Authors

    Debbie Zacarian, EdD has authored numerous publications including Mastering Academic Language (2013), The Essential Guide for Educating Beginning English Learners (2012), Transforming Schools for English Learners: A Comprehensive Framework for School Leaders (2011), and Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas (2010), and was a columnist for TESOL's Essential Teacher. A national expert in policies and practices, she cowrote the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care's policies for dual language learners; wrote Serving English Learners: Laws, Policies, and Regulations, a user-friendly guide about U.S. federal laws, a project funded with support from the Carnegie Foundation for Colorín Colorado; and served as expert consultant with the Kindergarten Entry Assessment Advisory Committee of the Delaware Governor's Office, Delaware Children's Department, and Delaware's Office of Education. With over three decades of combined experience directing a professional development and consulting center at an educational service agency about English language education and advancing student achievement, administering public school English learner programs, serving on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and engaging in various state and national initiatives, Dr. Zacarian consults with state agencies and school districts in the United States on policies, programming, and professional development for culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

    Judie Haynes is a freelance professional development provider and teacher with 28 years' experience in teaching English as a second language. She has published six books, including Getting Started With English Language Learners (ASCD, 2007) and Teaching English language Learners Across the Content Areas (ASCD, 2010). Judie also contributed chapters to Integrating the ESL Standards Into Classroom Practice, Grades K–2 (TESOL, 2000) and Authenticity in the Language Classroom and Beyond (TESOL, 2010). She was also a columnist for TESOL's Essential Teacher. Judie is the editor and owner of, a website for teachers of English learners. She is cofounder and moderator of #ELLCHAT, an online chat for teachers of English learners. She also provides keynote addresses and workshops to TESOL affiliates and school districts all over the United States.

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    Corwin: A SAGE Company

    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

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