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QTEL’s model of teaching is based on sociocultural and sociolinguistic theories of learning and the central role of language in the learning process. Drawing from sociolinguistic research on effective practices with English learners including studies in second-language acquisition, oral and written literacies development, systemic functional linguistics, and theories of accelerated English language acquisition, the QTEL program works to build the capacity of educators to develop students’ abilities to read, discuss, and write academic texts in rigorous content area courses.  Because of this emphasis on a pedagogy based on sociocultural theories of learning, teachers find the QTEL approach classroom-friendly and pragmatic as they experience a compelling way to work with students.

Embedded throughout QTEL are five principles that guide and reflect quality instruction for English Learners.

Principles of Quality Teaching for English Learners

  • Sustain Academic Rigor by promoting deep disciplinary knowledge and developing central ideas of a discipline

  • Hold High Expectations by engaging students in tasks that are high challenge and high support

  • Engage in Quality Interactions defined as the enactment of interactions that are sustained, deep, and build knowledge in relevant aspects of the discipline

  • Sustain a Language Focus by explicitly developing disciplinary language, discussing how language works, and highlighting the characteristics of different disciplinary genres and discourse

  • Develop Quality Curriculum that has long-term goals, is problem-based, and requires sustained attention beyond a single lesson


QTEL holds fast to the belief that educators must recognize the immense learning potential of students, particularly ELs, and invite them to participate in rigorous instruction no matter their level of language proficiency.  Our work then is focused on developing educator capacity in  supporting ELs and other language minority students to develop their full potential through carefully constructed, implemented, and monitored interactions that scaffold the learning and acquisition of content and language knowledge simultaneously.  This development of teacher and student capacity is a consequence of, not a prerequisite for, carefully planned opportunities to participate in meaningful and demanding activity with others that offer high challenge coupled with high support.


Based on a model of learning as a process of apprenticeship, QTEL focuses on multi-layered, whole-school reform and the long-term, sustainable building of teacher expertise.  QTEL also collaborates with schools and districts to develop the skills and dispositions in English Learners that define success in college and life in the 21st century:  effective oral and written communication, the ability to access, interpret, and analyze information, critical thinking and problem solving, curiosity and imagination, agility and adaptability, creativity, collaboration and leadership, and interculturalism and bilingualism.

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