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How Diverse Language Experiences Shape Learning: The Cognitive Outcomes of Bilingualism and Literacy Development

Monday, October 23, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

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Presented by Dr. Young-Suk Kim, Professor and Senior Associate Dean, School of Education, University of California, Irvine; Dr. Gigi Luk, Associate Professor, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Centre for Research on Brain, Language, and Music, McGill University; Dr. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, President, Valley Speech Language and Learning Center; and Dr. Raj Chattergoon, Director of Efficacy Research, Lexia Learning
Moderated by Cassandra Wheeler, Director of Lexia LETRS® State Success, Lexia Learning

Sponsored by Lexia Learning

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By incorporating an understanding of bilingualism as an interactional experience that shapes cognition, educators have the opportunity to join a transformative mission to redefine the long-term English learner definition, paving the way to a future of inclusive and effective literacy instruction.

View Lexia’s first day of Emergent Bilingual Week edLeader Panel as Dr. Young-Suk Kim (Professor and Senior Associate Dean at the School of Education, University of California, Irvine), Dr. Gigi Luk (Associate Professor, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Centre for Research on Brain, Language, and Music, McGill University), Dr. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan (President, Valley Speech Language and Learning Center), and Dr. Raj Chattergoon (Director of Efficacy Research) discussed the importance of a people-first approach, how bilingualism and executive functions interact to influence literacy outcomes, how the Science of Reading applies to emergent bilingual language and literacy instruction, and the importance of environmental factors.

Viewers gain exclusive insight from a group of leaders in emergent bilingual studies and understand how to apply reading research in their districts, schools, and classrooms to improve academic outcomes for students learning English.

This recorded edLeader Panel is of interest to PreK-12 teachers, ELL and ESOL specialists, librarians, school and district leaders, and education technology leaders.

This edLeader Panel is part of Emergent Bilingual Week: A New Era in Multilingualism.

This five-day event, October 23rd – 27th was designed to inspire educators and leaders in service of our 5 million+ multilingual students across the country. Our expert-led panel discussions brought you the latest research, strategies, and tools to celebrate the assets every student brings to the classroom.


About the Presenters

Dr. Young-Suk (or informally Young) Kim (Harvard University) is a Professor and the Senior Associate Dean at the School of Education, University of California at Irvine. She was a former classroom teacher in San Francisco. Her scholarship focuses on understanding language and literacy development and effective instruction for racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse children, and helping them build strong foundations to support their success in school and beyond. Her areas of research include reading comprehension, reading fluency, listening comprehension and oral language, dyslexia, higher-order cognitive skills, written composition, and reading-writing relations. Dr. Kim has worked extensively with monolingual children from various linguistic backgrounds (e.g., English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Kiswahili) and multilingual children in the U.S. Her research has been supported by over $60 million in grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Kim’s work was recognized by several awards, including the 2012 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama, and the Developing Scholar Award and Robert M. Gagne Research Award at Florida State University. She currently serves as the Editor-In-Chief for the journal Scientific Studies of Reading and the Chair of the Vocabulary SIG for the American Educational Research Association.

Gigi Luk

Dr. Gigi Luk’s research on the cognitive and neural consequences of bilingualism extends across the lifespan. She leads a research program that examines how diverse language experiences shape development and learning. Using neuroimaging and behavioral methods, Dr. Luk studies bilingualism as an interactional experience that shapes cognition. In addition to investigating the science of bilingualism, Dr. Luk has examined how to harness scientific findings on bilingualism to improve educational experiences for children from diverse language backgrounds. In particular, she has established a research program investigating: (1) effective ways to examine bilingualism and learning; (2) how bilingualism and executive functions interact to influence literacy outcomes; and (3) brain mechanisms underlying learning new information in children and adults. Dr. Luk obtained her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from York University, Canada in 2008. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Center before joining the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011. In January 2019, she joined the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill.

Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan

Dr. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan is a bilingual speech and language pathologist, certified teacher, dyslexia therapist, certified academic language therapist, and a qualified instructor. Dr. Cárdenas-Hagan is President of the Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville, Texas. She has had the privilege of collaborating in national research projects sponsored by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development and the Institute of Education Sciences, a research arm of the United States Department of Education for the last 19 years. Each national project was related to the development of language and literacy skills among Spanish-speaking English learners. Dr. Cárdenas-Hagan is currently the Chairperson of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, a Past Vice-Chairperson of the International Dyslexia Association, and a Past Chairperson of the Texas State Board for Speech Pathology and Audiology and the Texas State Dyslexia Advisory Board. She has written many scholarly articles and book chapters related to language and literacy development among English learners.

Dr. Raj Chattergoon

About the Facilitator

Dr. Rajendra Chattergoon joined Lexia Learning in November 2020, bringing over a decade of experience in education. His career began as an English as a Foreign Language teacher in Shenzen, China where he taught English speaking classes to students in the Chinese public school system. He has also taught in schools in New York and Colorado.

At Lexia, Dr. Chattergoon directs the Efficacy team, which is responsible for designing studies that evaluate the extent to which Lexia’s programs are working to improve learning outcomes. His team conducts internal research studies, often partnering with external experts through research partnerships to ensure that Lexia’s research study designs, methods, and claims meet the highest standards of rigor.

Dr. Chattergoon holds a doctorate in Research and Evaluation Methodology from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Cassandra Wheeler

About the Moderator

Cassandra Wheeler completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before returning home to Montgomery Public Schools and beginning her career as an educator at Morningview Elementary School. After earning her master’s degree and administrative certification, Cassandra joined the Alabama Reading Initiative, where she authored Alabama’s Reading First Initiative grant and managed Alabama’s statewide DIBELS® pilot. After serving the children of Alabama for 10 years, Cassandra expanded her outreach to impact students everywhere by joining the (then) Voyager Expanded Learning organization and, finally, Lexia®, where she serves as the first Director of Lexia LETRS® State Success.

Learn more about viewing the live presentation and the recording, earning your CE certificate, and using our new accessibility features.

Join the Supporting Emergent Bilingual Students community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.


Lexia®, a Cambium Learning Group company, is the Structured Literacy expert. For nearly 40 years, the company has focused solely on literacy, and today provides science of reading-based solutions for both students and educators. With robust offerings for differentiated instruction, personalized learning, assessment, and professional learning, Lexia helps more learners read, write, and speak with confidence. For more information, visit

Multilingualism is a superpower.

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