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Strategies For Leveraging Learner Assets

Strategies For Leveraging Learner Assets

Strategies For Leveraging Learner Assets

Either an asset-based or a deficit-based approach can be used by educators when dealing with English language learners (ELLs).

The asset-based approach is centred on identifying and maximizing the resources and strengths that ELLs bring to the classroom. This method acknowledges that ELLs may possess qualities and knowledge outside of language learning, including cultural competency, problem-solving skills, and bilingualism. Using these resources to foster academic performance and a healthy learning environment is the goal of the asset-based approach. It acknowledges ELLs’ various experiences and backgrounds and the possible contribution those variances may make to the classroom community. On the other hand, the deficit-based approach primarily sees ELLs through the prism of their perceived language weaknesses or proficiency. This strategy focuses on recognizing ELLs’ difficulties and tries to solve them by providing remedial language teaching. This strategy could result in stigmatization, low expectations, and a failure to acknowledge the resources and strengths that ELLs bring to the classroom. The deficit-based approach may hinder ELLs’ chances of academic success and foster a hostile learning atmosphere.

In conclusion, the asset-based strategy prioritizes discovering and enhancing the resources and strengths that ELLs bring to the classroom, whereas the deficit-based approach prioritizes resolving alleged linguistic inadequacies. The deficit-based approach may result in a hostile learning environment and restrict the possibility of academic success. In contrast, the asset-based approach encourages a favourable learning environment that acknowledges and values the variety of experiences and backgrounds of ELLs. Because of this, teachers must use an asset-based strategy when working with ELLs to foster a welcoming and encouraging learning environment that supports their academic performance.

Working with English language learners (ELLs) and their families through an asset-based approach has many advantages. This strategy encourages a positive, inclusive, and culturally sensitive approach to education by recognizing and appreciating ELLs’ talents and resources in the learning environment. The advantages of using an asset-based strategy when dealing with ELLs and their families include the following:

Enhances self-esteem and confidence: ELLs’ self-esteem and confidence are enhanced by focusing on their advantages and strengths. Students are more willing to participate in the learning process and take chances when they feel valued for their contributions.

Creates a pleasant learning atmosphere that encourages inclusiveness, respect, and an appreciation for diversity. An asset-based strategy does this. This setting can result in better academic results and relationships between instructors, students, and families.

Enhances motivation and engagement: When teachers acknowledge and capitalize on ELLs’ abilities and assets, it can enhance motivation and engagement. This results in improved academic performance and a stronger desire to participate in school extracurricular activities.

Linguistics: ELLs frequently have excellent knowledge of many languages, which can be useful in a classroom where students speak various languages. For instance, a bilingual student in Spanish and English can assist monolingual classmates in translating.

Cultural: ELLs may bring cultural knowledge and practices to the classroom that will benefit all students learning. A student from a different nation might, for instance, share details about local specialities, occasions, or holidays with their peers to help them learn more about their culture.

Experience-based: ELLs may bring fresh perspectives to the classroom that will benefit instruction. A student who has lived abroad can have knowledge of many cultures and practices that might enhance discussions and activities in class.

Social-emotional: ELLs may be resilient and persistent, which can be helpful when facing academic difficulties. A kid who has had to adjust to a new culture and language, for instance, might have gained resiliency and endurance that can be useful in the classroom.

4 Making use of ELL families’ cultural and linguistic resources can aid in developing a supportive learning environment that encourages respect for one another and an understanding of variety. The following are two methods for using ELL families’ linguistic and cultural resources:

Instructors can involve families in the learning process by inviting them to take part in activities or events held in the classroom. Teachers may, for instance, invite ELL families to share cultural customs, tales, or songs with the class. This tactic fosters a greater appreciation of cultural diversity and fosters positive interaction between families and teachers. Use bilingual or multilingual resources: Instructors can take advantage of the language strengths of ELL families by using bilingual or multilingual resources, such as books, films, or websites. For instance, teachers can provide students with bilingual literature that is printed both in their native tongue and in English. This tactic strengthens the benefits of bilingualism and encourages the development of reading in both languages.

These are five educational tactics to make the most of ELLs’ various strengths:

Collaborative learning: ELLs’ social-emotional and linguistic strengths can be tapped into through collaborative learning techniques, including group work, peer tutoring, or cooperative learning. These techniques give ELLs a chance to socialize with their classmates, improve their language abilities, and gain knowledge from one another’s experiences.

Culturally sensitive instruction: Culturally sensitive instruction can make the most of ELLs’ cultural assets by incorporating culturally relevant information, employing culturally sensitive teaching methods, and building on ELLs’ prior knowledge. These techniques aid in fostering a supportive learning environment that values and respects ELLs’ cultural diversity.

Differentiated education: ELLs’ linguistic and experiential strengths can be tapped into through differentiated instruction techniques, including offering numerous modalities of instruction, using visual aids, and giving scaffolding. These techniques support academic performance while addressing the varied learning requirements and backgrounds of ELLs.

Using technology: ELLs’ language and experience strengths can be utilized by using technology, such as educational apps, digital tools, or multimedia resources. These tactics encourage digital literacy, make it easier for ELLs to access online resources, and give them the opportunity to interact with language and material in a variety of formats.

Home language support: Strategies for home language support, such as offering materials in the student’s native tongue, speaking to families in their native tongue, or promoting the use of the home tongue, can make use of ELLs’ linguistic strengths. These tactics support the academic performance, promote bilingualism as a valuable skill, and foster strong ties with families.


García, G. E. (2009). The asset orientation of language education policy: Its origins and implications. International Journal of Educational Policy, Research, and Practice: Reconceptualizing Childhood Studies, 10(3), 32-49.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491.

Gándara, P. (2013). The Latino education crisis: The consequences of failed social policies. Harvard University Press.

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M. E., & Short, D. J. (2017). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP model. Pearson.

Hammond, J. L., & Gibbons, P. (2005). Putting scaffolding to work: The contribution of scaffolded instruction to supporting bilingual learners. Educational Researcher, 34(5), 3-8.


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Assessment Description

Strategies For Leveraging Learner Assets

Strategies For Leveraging Learner Assets

Part of an ESL/bilingual specialist’s role is to serve as a resource for ELL instruction and support other educators and school staff. Helping to shift deficit-based thinking to asset-based, is a way to offer such support. By guiding others to an asset-based mindset, the ultimate goal is positive outcomes for the language development and academic learning of ELLs.

Create a two-page handout for teachers working with ELLs promoting an asset-based approach. Include the following in your handout:

  • Describe the differences between an asset-based and deficit-based approach when working with ELLs.
  • Explain the benefits of an asset-based approach in working with ELLs and their families.
  • Provide at least one example of an asset that an ELL might possess for each of the following areas: linguistic, cultural, experiential, and social-emotional.
  • Discuss two strategies for utilizing the cultural and linguistic assets of ELL families.
  • Describe five instructional strategies to leverage the various assets of ELLs.

Support your handout with a minimum of three scholarly resources.

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