Breaking Down the Wall

  • Title:Breaking Down the Wall: Essential Shifts for English Learners’ Success
  • Author:Margarita Espino Calderon, Maria G. Dove, Diane Staehr Fenner, Margo Gottlieb, Andrea Honigsfeld, Tonya Ward Singer, Shawn Slakk, Ivannia Soto, Debbie Zacarian
  • Publication Date:October 2019
  • ISBN:9781544342610
  • Publisher:Corwin Press

It was a dark and stormy night in Santa Barbara. January 19, 2017. The next day’s inauguration drumroll played on the evening news. Huddled around a table were nine Corwin authors and their publisher, who together have devoted their careers to equity in education. They couldn’t change the weather, they couldn’t heal a fractured country, but they did have the power to put their collective wisdom about EL education upon the page to ensure our multilingual learners reach their highest potential.

Proudly, we introduce you now to the fruit of that effort: Breaking Down the Wall: Essential Shifts for English Learners’ Success.

In this first-of-a-kind collaboration, teachers and leaders, whether in small towns or large urban centers, finally have both the research and the practical strategies to take those first steps toward excellence in educating our culturally and linguistically diverse children. It’s a book to be celebrated because it means we can throw away the dark glasses of deficit-based approaches and see children who come to school speaking a different home language for what they really are: learners with tremendous assets.

The authors’ contributions are arranged in nine chapters that become nine tenets for teachers and administrators to use as calls to actions in their own efforts to realize our English learners’ potential:

  • 1. From Deficit-Based to Asset-Based
  • 2. From Compliance to Excellence
  • 3. From Watering Down to Challenging
  • 4. From Isolation to Collaboration
  • 5. From Silence to Conversation
  • 6. From Language to Language, Literacy, and Content
  • 7. From Assessment of Learning to Assessment for and as Learning
  • 8. From Monolingualism to Multilingualism
  • 9. From Nobody Cares to Everyone/Every Community Cares

Read this book; the chapters speak to one another, a melodic echo of expertise, classroom vignettes, and steps to take. To shift the status quo is neither fast nor easy, but there is a clear process, and it’s laid out here in Breaking Down the Wall. To distill it into a single line would go something like this: if we can assume mutual ownership, if we can connect instruction to all children’s personal, social, cultural, and linguistic identities, then all students will achieve.


Author Bio

Maria Dove, Ed.D. is Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the MS TESOL Program in the Division of Education at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York, where she teaches courses on research and best practices for developing effective programs and school policies for English learners. She previously worked over thirty years as an English-as-a second language teacher in public school settings and in adult English language programs. 

Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld is Professor in the Division of Education at Molloy College where she teaches graduate courses related to cultural and linguistic diversity. She frequently offers professional development focusing on effective differentiated strategies and collaborative practices for English-as-a-second-language and general education teachers.

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