English and Dual Language Learners

While Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte are effective with a wide range of students, including your most advanced native speakers of English or Spanish, these programs have been proven to be particularly effective with English and Spanish Language Learners.

Discussions4Learning enables English Language Learners at all proficiency levels to develop the key academic language skills they will need to deal with the linguistic demands of complex subject matter and challenging texts.

Particularly relevant features for English Language Learners:

  • The discussion of dazzling fine art images and stunning real-world photos provides a unique, authentic, and engaging context for academic language development.

  • Discussions move from the here and now to the more decontextualized and inferential in nature.

  • Academically Productive Talk strategies support all learners, including second language speakers, by offering non-threatening ways to participate in discussions, such as restating what another student has said, asking for clarification, providing a different example, or agreeing or disagreeing with another student with a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down gesture.

  • All new vocabulary words are presented using specially designed context sentences that spiral in syntactical complexity and provide ample clues to help students unlock word meanings.

  • Careful language scaffolding of new vocabulary and concepts ensures understanding and promotes the use of independent word-learning strategies.

  • Built-in review of target words provides multiple opportunities for learning and internalizing new vocabulary.

  • Since the program emphasis is on oral language rather than connections to print, there is “no floor or ceiling” in terms of requisite decoding or writing abilities. In this way, all students, regardless of language proficiency level, are able to fully participate.

  • For Spanish-speaking English learners in Bilingual Programs, VocabulArte builds on students’ home language capabilities and knowledge to develop academic language skills that readily transfer to English. This is particularly the case when teachers use both VocabulArte and Discussions4Learning.

Check out the white paper on helping English Learners build academic language.



In a scientifically-based research study, classrooms that used the Discussions4Learning curriculum demonstrated significant, statistical gains in the following areas:

  • Overall vocabulary knowledge
  • Retention of academically challenging vocabulary
  • Ability to use context clues to decipher meaning of unknown words
  • Listening comprehension of both fiction and nonfiction texts