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Understanding Language Initiative, led by Kenji Hakuta, Launches Public Face

Kenji Hakuta
April 2012

The Understanding Language initiative has launched a new website and online community The initiative, co-chaired by California Collaborative member Kenji Hakuta, aims to investigate, raise awareness about, and address the role of language in learning for all students, particularly English learners.  Hakuta explains, “The main message is that language matters — it has always mattered, but it matters especially so with the new standards.  The implication is that content and language specialists need to collaborate to effectively educate ELLs, and we need to develop the necessary tools and systems to make this happen.”  Beginning with a series of papers by national experts and a recent national conference at Stanford University, the group has engaged in an in-depth analysis of the language demands of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.  In upcoming phases of its work, Understanding Language plans to test and share exemplars of language-rich teaching practices and to collaboratively develop open-source instructional resources around the new standards.  California Collaborative chair Jennifer O’Day will serve on the group’s Policy Strategy Committee and California Collaborative member Aída Walqui will serve on the group’s Steering and Public Dialogue Committees as well as its ELA, Math, and Science Work Groups.

Link to Understanding Language website