Teacher Education

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Taylor & Francis


Prominent discourses about emergent bilinguals’ academic abilities tend to focus on performance as measured by test scores and perpetuate the message that emergent bilinguals trail far behind their peers. When we remove the constraints of formal testing situations, what can emergent bilinguals do in English as they engage in naturally occurring classroom interactions about content? Using six months of naturally occurring emergent bilingual talk, this article shows that (1) emergent bilinguals produced a wide range of academic speech acts in English while engaged in English language arts tasks, (2) these speech acts were aligned with state academic expectations, and (3) even emergent bilinguals considered “struggling” by conventional standards used in schools showed evidence of using English to accomplish academic tasks in ways aligned to state academic expectations. I argue that determining emergent bilinguals’ English language proficiency using test scores alone provides an incomplete view of what they can and cannot do in English.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Multilingual Research Journal on Oct 25, 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/19313152.2017.1389222.

Available for download on Thursday, April 25, 2019