Multilingual Learners Program

SRI Education is committed to helping educators, administrators, and policymakers promote equitable educational opportunities and outcomes for multilingual learners, from birth through college and into the workforce.

We recognize the assets that culturally and linguistically diverse learners bring and the systemic inequities they face. 

SRI Education offers rigorous research, evaluation, technical assistance and strategic planning services to help educators and policymakers eliminate barriers and transform the quality of multilingual learners’ educational experiences. We identify equitable policies at the district, school and classroom levels that shape the day-to-day experiences of multilingual learners, their families and their teachers. We also promote effective, culturally responsive teaching practices that ensure access to high-quality instruction and learning opportunities. 


About the multilingual learners program

SRI Education’s multilingual learners program provides rigorous research, evaluation and technical assistance to help address the inequities in education for multilingual learners. Recognizing multilingualism as an asset and centering equity, we work with our partners to identify best practices and implement viable solutions to eradicate barriers and increase equitable opportunities. 

SRI Education’s team has led studies funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, among others. Our research has focused on: 

  • High-quality math instruction for multilingual learners 
  • Factors associated with postsecondary success of multilingual learners with disabilities  
  • Dual language instructional models in K–8 classrooms  
  • Teacher preparation programs designed to increase the bilingual educator pipeline  
  • Effective teaching for migrant students who are multilingual learners 

Our work

Young multilingual learners

Many early learning settings include children with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Educators must create equitable access to educative experiences for all children in these settings, including for multilingual and multicultural learners and children with disabilities, as well as for their families. 

SRI Education works with partners to ensure that all children learning in multiple languages have full access to and participation in daily classroom activities. We focus on building educators’ capacity to effectively incorporate children’s home-life experiences, cultural backgrounds, home languages, interests and strengths into instruction. For example, we provide educators with skills and strategies to build on students’ home languages, even if the educators do not speak the languages.

Intersection of language learning and disability

There is an ongoing need to improve the process of identifying disabilities among multilingual learners. In some cases, multilingual learners are overrepresented in special education; in other cases, they are underrepresented. Educators can best serve multilingual learners formally identified with disabilities by building expertise to meet learners individual needs and by providing access to rigorous grade-level content, English language development and appropriate special education services. 

SRI Education brings our combined expertise in multilingual learners and disability in early childhood, K–12 and postsecondary education to help our partners identify practices or strategies to meet their needs. For example, we have provided resources for determining special education eligibility of multilingual learners and conducted a study examining the factors associated with successful transition from high school to college for multilingual learners with disabilities. 

High-quality instruction and teacher development

Education leaders, policymakers and teachers need to understand what makes K–12 instruction effective for multilingual learners and how policies can ensure that all multilingual learners have access to high-quality instruction. Recent policy efforts have focused on integrating technology into instruction to better support multilingual learners and on recruiting, developing and retaining qualified teachers. 

SRI Education provides information and tools to help our partners transform learning experiences and optimize opportunities for multilingual learners. For example, we have highlighted how different states promote local Grow Your Own programs to address shortages of teachers for multilingual learners. We have also developed a report for the U.S. Department of Education on the first national survey of how teachers use technology when teaching their multilingual students. We are also evaluating a professional development program for teachers and caregivers that focuses on bi-literacy in language arts and math. 

Associated publications

Our experts