Synthesis of Professional Articles

Spaces for Language Learning Create Necessary Relationships for Community Bonds

Practitioner articles, “Supporting Immigrant Families and Rural Schools: The Boundary Spanning Possibilities of an Adult ESL Program”(Shiffman, 2019) and “From learner to teacher assistant: Community-based service-learning in a dual-language classroom”(Baker, 2018) emphasize the importance of community programs to support language learning while fostering community relationships and creating an environment for learning centered in trust and respect. 

Providing areas of language learning outside of strictly academic ones are beneficial to cultural and linguistic assimilation. Baker notes how “Lave and Wenger (1991) introduced the notion of a community of practice in which learners become participants in a shared space. Knowledge is coconstructed, and learners build their language capacity in their communication with others as they become part of the community” (Baker, 2018, p. 797 ). The notion of knowledge being coconstructed is key to success for dual learning programs as it can build trust and comfort in what can be a confusing and isolating environment. For immigrant parents specifically who need linguistic support, and who might not be as culturally knowledgeable about the communities in which they are raising their children, “Adult English as a second language (ESL) programs are uniquely positioned to play a role in family school relations… Adult learners often develop relationships with instructors and classmates—and those interactions in turn can provide important support, information, and connections to educational resources for children in K-12 schools” (Shiffman, 2019, p. 538). The benefits of ESL programs are two fold: allowing immigrant families the connections to be part of their community, and focused language practice.

Consequently, community engagement, and spaces for it, are essential in supporting both language fluency and community participation. Competence and confidence in both will allow english language learners to feel successfully integrated in their communities, and in the case of immigrant parents, provide them with additional tools to support their children’s learning and community involvement. 


Baker, L. (2018). From learner to teacher assistant: Community-based service-learning in a     dual-language classroom. Foreign Language Annals (pp. 796-815). Retrieved from

Shiffman, C. D. (2019). Supporting Immigrant Families and Rural Schools: The Boundary-Spanning Possibilities of an Adult ESL Program. Educational Administration Quarterly (pp. 537–570). Retrieved from nnnnn