Empowering hispanics in higher education through the operationalization of academic English strategies

Alma M. Sándigo, Patricia Peterson, Kathleen Abou-Rjaily

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Incorporating purposeful academic English strategies into higher education promotes equitable access to instruction and supports understanding through different perspectives and experiences. This is especially true for Hispanics (which refers here to anyone from a Spanish-speaking background). Because the perspectives and experiences of the Hispanic student population is so diverse, approaches for operationalizing academic English should include the following: viewing the various language backgrounds of Hispanic students as opportunity rather than deficit; using a holistic approach to assess content and academic English proficiency of students; creating academic supports that weave together content knowledge and skills, literacy, and academic English; and using instructional practices that facilitate the understanding and application of academic English. Academic English strategies encompass both cognitive engagement and expressions of knowledge within the subject. A single definition of academic English does not yet exist, but research has identified academic English proficiency as a key factor in higher education attainment. The expectations vary by discipline (e.g., mathematics or English) and by maturity and experience in the discipline. However, including a focus on the linguistic structural dimensions of discourse, sentence complexity, and vocabulary can provide effective support for strengthening academic English. The operationalization of academic English should be a core component of academic support systems in higher education, resulting in higher college achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on Promoting Social Justice in Education
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783030146252
ISBN (Print)9783030146245
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Academic capital
  • Academic english
  • Academic english definition
  • Academic english strategies
  • Academic support
  • Basic unit of language
  • Characteristics of academic english strategies
  • Circumlocution
  • Cognates
  • College achievement
  • Comprehensive academic support
  • Comprehensive approach
  • Content and academic english assessments
  • Content vocabulary
  • Content vocabulary
  • Context
  • Culture of institution
  • Deconstructing complex sentences
  • Discourse
  • Diverse students
  • Educational gap
  • Empower
  • English language learners
  • Equity
  • Examples of essential questions
  • Exemplar texts
  • First-generation hispanic immigrants
  • Frontload language
  • Genre
  • Heterogeneity of hispanics
  • Hispanic association of colleges and universities
  • Hispanic heritage
  • Hispanic serving institutions
  • Hispanics
  • Institutional choice
  • Instructional practices
  • Interpretations
  • Knowledge expression
  • Knowledge process
  • Long-term ell
  • Modeling
  • National center for education and statistics
  • National economy
  • Non-rigorous curriculum
  • Nonimmigrant hispanics
  • Onepoint- five immigrant generation
  • Open and explicit discussions
  • Operationalizing academic english
  • Opportunity
  • Organized information
  • Pictures
  • Professional development
  • Profiles of hispanic students
  • Purpose
  • Reading comprehension
  • Remedial classes
  • Research
  • Rhetorically
  • Salary gap
  • Scholarships
  • Second immigrant generation
  • Semantics
  • Sentence complexity
  • Social equality
  • Sociocultural, academic, and linguistic background
  • Support systems
  • Text structures
  • Third generation
  • Video clip
  • Vision and mission
  • Words in context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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