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What’s Unique About Teaching Reading to Multilingual Learners?

Friday, October 27, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

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Presented by Dr. José Viana, Senior Education Advisor, Lexia Learning; Tan Huynh, Teacher, Author, Podcaster, and Consultant, KIS International School (Cambodia); Beth Skelton, Educational Consultant, Educational Consultants, LLC; and Breanna Guzman, Senior Language Product Specialist, Lexia Learning
Moderated by Cassandra Wheeler, Director of Lexia LETRS® State Success, Lexia Learning

Sponsored by Lexia Learning

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English learners are doing double duty in schools compared to their monolingual peers—not only are they learning to speak a new language, but they’re also trying to learn academic content in English, often through reading.

Understanding the best practices for emergent bilingual reading instruction can help students achieve academic success in their new language—and the Science of Reading has answers for how to best implement instruction in the classroom. Lexia Learning’s Cassandra Wheeler (Director of LETRS State Success), Dr. José Viana (Senior Education Advisor), and Breanna Guzman (Senior Language Product Specialist) with Tan Huynh (Teacher, Author, Podcaster, and Consultant) and Beth Skelton (Educational Consultant) dug deep into what’s different about teaching reading to multilingual learners.

In this session, viewers learn about incorporating instruction based on the Science of Reading for emergent bilingual and multilingual students, practical strategies (including how to prioritize both language and literacy development), and the importance of culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy, grounded in an asset-based approach.

This 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.

Tan Huynh

About the Presenters

Tan Huynh is a secondary school teacher specializing in English language acquisition, an author, podcaster, and consultant. He has taught students from fifth to tenth grade in domestic public, private, and charter schools, but the bulk of his experience has been in international schools. He also taught social studies and spends much of his days co-planning and co-teaching. Tan is trained in sheltered instruction, WIDA, culturally responsive instruction, International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, and the Collaborative Instructional Cycle. Tan shares his application of research-based strategies on his blog, podcast, and online courses with the hopes of celebrating teachers who answer the calling to serve multilingual learners. He holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction specializing in language acquisition.

Beth Skelton

Beth Skelton has over 30 years of experience as a language educator and holds a master’s degree in multicultural teacher education. She has worked with early childhood, elementary, middle, high school, and adult language learners in rural, urban, suburban, and international school settings. She is the co-author of Long-Term Success for Experienced Multilinguals, a best-selling book published by Corwin, and Putting It Together, materials for teaching adult English learners using a story-based curriculum. She is an active board member of Colorado TESOL. Beth currently provides professional development, coaching, and consulting with schools around the world focused on providing equitable education for multilingual learners.

Breanna Guzman

Breanna Guzman is a Senior Language Product Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education/Spanish, a Master of Science degree in TESOL, and an Advanced Professional Teaching Certificate in Grades 1–6 and ESOL PreK–12. Her professional experience includes teaching Spanish, third grade, first grade, and ESOL, as well as coaching classroom teachers, organizing professional development, and managing ELL programs. Dedicated to education and advocacy for emergent bilinguals as a dual-language learner herself, Breanna helped to develop a new product to support the English development of emergent bilinguals.

José Viana

About the Facilitator

Dr. José Viana joined Lexia Learning in December 2019, bringing 30 years of experience in education. A former English learner himself, his career began in Miami, Florida where he taught English to speakers of other languages. During his time in the classroom, Dr. Viana strategically incorporated technology through blended learning in order for emergent bilingual students to fully participate and thus accelerate their proficiency in English and ability to meet academic goals.

Dr. Viana was most recently the Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at the United States Department of Education. In this role, he was responsible for the overall leadership, management, and direction of education for English language learners nationwide. He also oversaw the development and dissemination of discretionary grants, research studies, and resources that guide education practice and policy to meet the needs of our country’s emergent bilingual students.

Dr. Viana holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida International University and a master’s degree in Computer Education from Barry University. He completed his doctorate in Educational Leadership at North Carolina State University.

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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