ESOL Principles

UW Bothell School of Educational Studies
Principles for the English to Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement

We recognize that culturally and linguistically diverse students need to

  • have educators¹ who acknowledge and accept their legal and ethical responsibility to educate all students,
  • have educators who view the communities and families of students as partners in the education of students, 
  • be valued as people who bring experiences, skills and knowledge to schools (rather than thought of as merely language learners),
  • have access to all programs, events, and educational opportunities in the school—meaning they will be challenged to develop cognitively, academically, linguistically, and socially and will not be excluded because they are acquiring English.

We recognize that fundamental principles from second language acquisition theory and research should be reflected in the instructional and administrative practices of educators.

  • Learning a language means learning to do things in order to communicate in meaningful ways with people who speak that language.
  • Learning a language means learning to communicate in all areas of language (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and cultural appropriateness) while also expressing ideas, knowledge, and interests of the learner.
  • Acquiring a second language, similar to acquiring the first language, is a non-linear process.  Individuals acquire different skills at different rates and in different orders.  
  • Language is complex and is closely connected to cognitive, academic, social, and cultural processes; however, limitations in a language do not indicate cognitive, academic, social, or cultural “deficits” or “problems.”
  • Cognitive, academic, social, and cultural skills and knowledge can develop simultaneously with language and can increase the speed and quality of language development.  
  • Language development is connected closely to identity development; consequently, respect and inclusion positively supports culturally and linguistically diverse students’ development, while disrespect, marginalization, segregation, and exclusion interfere with positive identity development.
  • Bilingualism supports, rather than hinders, cognitive development and the acquisition of English.

¹The term “educators” includes all school personnel (e.g., teachers, administrators, paraeducators, office staff, custodial and food service workers, and volunteers).


Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Genesee, F. (1994). Introduction. In F. Genesee (Ed.), Educating second language children: The whole child, the whole curriculum, the whole community (First ed., pp. 1–12). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, M. (2004). A philosophy of second language acquisition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Rigg, P., & Allen, V. G. (1989). Introduction. In P. Rigg & V. G. Allen (Eds.), When they don’t all speak English: Integrating the ESL student into the regular classroom. National Council of Teachers of English.

Wong. S. (2006). Dialogic approaches to TESOL: Where the ginkgo tree grows. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc.