Academic Language & Literacies


Academic Language and Literacies

The UC Davis School of Education provides research and professional development in academic literacy to inform best practices, especially related to addressing the literacy needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Research Christian Faltis

Colorblind Bilingual Programs Perpetuate Racism
A Call for Race Radical Vision

Many assume bilingual education can level the academic playing field for English learners, but one UC Davis professor calls foul on current programmatic practices.

In a new paper to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) on April 20, 2015, education professor Chris Faltis argues that “colorblind” approaches to multilingualism in education mask agendas that privilege the dominant, or “whitestream,” culture.

Professional Development Event Susan O'Hara

Three Strategies for Enriching the Quantity and Quality of Classroom Talk
November 2014

In a special issue of ASCD Express, Talking and Listening in Class, REEd executive director Susan O’Hara, with co-writers Jeff Zwiers and Robert Pritchard, provide strategies for improving talk in the classroom. In “Three Strategies for Enriching the Quantity and Quality of Classroom Talk,” they write:


What Happened to Language in the Language Arts?

Educators are in near universal agreement that finding ways to incorporate students’ everyday use of language in the classroom is a worthy goal. The argument often revolves around making the curriculum more relevant and, thus, more engaging for youth. Rarely, however, do educators ask students to analyze and reflect on their own uses of language, particularly not in classrooms with a majority of English learners.


Research News – February 2014

Rebecca Ambrose, associate professor in the School of Education, and Marta Molina. “Spanish/English Bilingual Students’ Comprehension of Arithmetic Story Problem Texts.” International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. November 2013.

Professional Development Event

Academic Language Development Network

The UC Davis School of Education is a partner in the Academic Language Network (ALD Network), a collaborative project focused on the academic success of all students who need to improve their abilities to use language in school.

The Network focuses on research-based teaching and assessment practices for developing the complex academic language, literacy, and thinking skills that support the learning of the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, ELD, and other new standards. One of the main purposes of this network is to share ongoing research and effective professional development resources for building system-wide capacity to meet the instructional needs of academic English learners. 

We currently collaborate on professional development and research efforts in multiple school districts and counties. Part of the academic language work originated with REEd Executive Director Susan O’Hara (Principal Investigator) and Jeff Zwiers (Senior Researcher), when they worked in the Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching. This work is supported by a National Professional Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Partners include universities, state departments of education, research centers, county offices of education, school districts, schools, coaches, and teachers. If you would like to join the Network or receive our newsletter, feel free to contact us. Play the introduction video for more information and/or download the ALD Network Research Brief.

Guadalupe Valdés

Guadalupe Valdés
January 14, 2013 - Distinguished Educational Speaker Series

As part of the UC Davis School of Education’s Distinguished Educational Thinker Series, Professor Guadelupe Valdés gave a talk at UC Davis in January 2013 titled “Understanding Language in Schools.” Valdés argues that English learners must be given access to grade level content while they are learning English. “Writing is about ideas, but we pretend with English learners that language must emerge pristine before they can engage in the academic content. We must push for comprehension before focusing on production because it is most important for learning.”

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