Affordances of Engineering with English Learners

In this position paper, we draw from previous research and theoretical developments in the field to propose a set of the affordances of engineering with English learners (ELs). Students learning both the language of instruction (e.g., English) and academic subject matter (e.g., engineering, mathematics, science) face the challenge of making sense of linguistically complex terminology of disciplinary knowledge. We posit that engineering provides a unique set of benefits for such learners due to a number of factors associated with the discipline of engineering, including the materiality of the knowledge, the potential for multimodal communication, and the contextualization of knowledge in specific task-oriented activities. We also recognize that engineering benefits from participation by diverse learners including English Learners as solutions are strengthened by a multitude of ideas and perspectives. Although this paper focuses on English learners, we recognize that such affordances are also valuable for all students, including native English speakers, particularly those who may benefit from additional linguistic supports for developing academic literacies. We identify the affordances, anchoring them in elementary classroom experiences and teacher testimonials, and propose a research agenda for future study.



Work Title Affordances of Engineering with English Learners
Open Access
  1. Christine Cunningham
  2. Gregory Kelly
  3. Natacha Meyer
  1. engineering
  2. English learners
  3. emergent bilingual
  4. discourse
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Wiley
Publication Date 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. 10.1002/sce.21606
Related URLs
Deposited March 09, 2021




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  • Added Creator Gregory Kelly
  • Added Creator Natacha Meyer
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