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Social Emotional Learning for Multilingual Learners

Social Emotional Learning for Multilingual Learners
Essential Actions for Success

Foreword by Margarita Calderón

Additional resources:

April 2024 | 288 pages | Corwin

Foster multilingual learners’ academic success, wellbeing, agency, and belonging

Though multilingual learners (MLs) comprise nearly 25% of the school-age population, the most widely-used social emotional learning (SEL) frameworks and programs lack an intentional focus on these students’ unique strengths and challenges. To foster MLs’ academic success and wellbeing, educators must consider students’ cultures, languages, assets, expectations, norms, and life experiences when integrating SEL practices.

In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner and Mindi Teich break down how each of the five competencies in the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) SEL framework can be implemented with ML success in mind. Staehr Fenner and Teich’s practical and engaging guide provides SEL considerations that are unique to MLs, relevant research, easy-to-implement educator actions, and tools to seamlessly integrate SEL practices into content and language instruction. Additional features include:

  • Tools and practical strategies educators can apply immediately
  • Programmatic and systemic considerations that impact SEL for MLs
  • Examples of successful SEL strategies for MLs currently being used in classrooms
  • Ample opportunities for reflection and application in each chapter
  • Templates to prioritize and integrate SEL for MLs into teaching practices

MLs thrive when they are validated and supported to achieve their goals, empathize with others, build relationships, and make responsible decisions. The essential actions presented in this guide will enable you–regardless of your role or prior experience with SEL–to empower MLs to achieve academic and lifelong success.

Foreword by Margarita Calderón
About the Authors
Who Should Read This Book
Chapter Overview
Chapter 1: Why SEL for MLs Matters
Chapter 2: The SEL Framework for MLs
Chapter 3: Fostering MLs’ Access to Self-Awareness
Chapter 4: Fostering MLs’ Access to Self-Management
Chapter 5: Foster MLs’ Access to Social Awareness
Chapter 6: Fostering MLs’ Access to Relationship Skills
Chapter 7: Fostering MLs’ Access to Responsible Decision-Making
Chapter 8: Taking the Next Steps to Implement SEL with MLs


"Diane Staehr Fenner and Mindi Teich’s new book, Social Emotional Learning for Multilingual Learners: Essential Actions for Success, is a masterful addition to their robust body of work in support of multilingual learners. It is a call to action for all educators to address the SEL competencies that support all students, with a focus on the unique needs of multilingual learners, the complexity of their experiences, and the long-standing systematic issues impacting this population.  The book is designed for all educators as it provides clear strategies and recommendations for the inclusion of SEL competencies in all our daily work with our students, as it also encourages professionals to become more self-reflective and empathic in our interactions with students and one another."

Diane Howitt, Executive Director
New York City Regional Bilingual Education Network (NYC RBERN), Fordham University

"Immense thanks to Diane Staehr Fenner and Mindi Teich for writing this book because the topic is so prevalent, yet few books address the specific social-emotional needs of our ML kids and provide professional learning tools for practitioners. Long-term school success is not just about academics, and it’s not just about dealing with ‘learning loss’ or the pandemic effect. This book gives educators, administrators, and school support instructional personnel like school counselors the most comprehensive information, real examples, and actual tools and guidance to best work with our ML students to shape and ensure their well-being."

Giselle Lundy-Ponce, Director, Educational Rights and Social Justice Initiatives and Policy, American Federation of Teachers
American Federation of Teachers

"A critical extension of the CASEL Framework, this book offers educators the most essential understandings of the social and emotional inner lives of multilingual learners, as well as tangible actions they can take to support students in building their SEL competencies. Staehr Fenner and Teich shine a timely light on the need for nuanced and culturally-sensitive SEL programs. Whatever your role in a school community, you will find information and ideas that will transform your practice permanently."

April Perkins, Director of Multilingual Programs
South Portland School Department

"While social-emotional learning has become a hot topic across educational circles, not enough attention has focused on the needs of multilingual learners. Teachers are an essential element in addressing their social-emotional needs, but only 30% of the professional development related to SEL addresses MLs specifically. Ideally, teachers and administrators will become well-versed in the concepts and processes put forward in this new book. Immigration can offer hope and new opportunities to families seeking a better life, but the process is too often filled with challenges and uncertainties. Diane Staehr Fenner and Mindi Teich's work helps all educators empower immigrants and their children to truly make the most of those opportunities."

Eleni Pappamihiel, Professor
Watson College of Education, University of North Carolina Wilmington

"Dr. Staehr Fenner and Ms. Teich’s book amplifies the urgency of understanding how social-emotional learning approaches address the emotional needs of diverse, multilingual learners in our classrooms, schools, and districts. They share practical educator actions to support MLs’ access to each of the five SEL competencies and create space for educators to reflect on their own experiences with SEL as they navigate their unique learning journey. I highly recommend this timely book to all educators looking to elevate their mindset to implement critical considerations, strategies, and tools to intentionally integrate SEL for MLs into their daily instructional practices, accelerate learning opportunities, and foster MLs' well-being and academic success."

Luis-Gustavo Martinez, Senior Policy Analyst/Program Specialist
National Education Association

“Staehr Fenner and Teich bravely approach the naturally sensitive topic of SEL with simple rationale and actionable techniques that should enable all educators and administrators to provide multilingual learners with the environment to thrive.”

Daniel Ward, Editor
Language Magazine

"Staehr Fenner and Teich have provided a valuable and especially timely resource that centers on the socio-emotional needs of linguistically diverse learners. By engaging in self-reflection and application, individually or as part of a learning community, readers will increase their understanding of terms, definitions, SEL competencies, and essential practices. The practices described are necessary for all educators to recognize, further develop, and support the well-being of their students. Academically robust, healthy, socio-emotionally empowered learning communities are what all students deserve."

Ayanna Cooper, Author/Consultant
ACooper Consulting

"Every time Diane and her colleagues write a book, my practice transforms and levels up. While reading this book, I immediately started revising my lesson and unit plans to integrate SEL. I love frameworks, and this book offers a central framework that guides SEL integration. Each chapter shows us how to delicately design instruction so that life-skill development is not an 'extra' responsibility but actually foundational to working with MLs."

Tan Huynh, Secondary ELD Teacher

"This urgently needed book guides educators through a framework of practical ways to integrate equitable SEL instruction for multilingual learners throughout the school day. The real-life scenarios, note-taking tools, checklists, and reflection questions will support educators as they collaborate to thoughtfully and systematically implement the recommendations at a classroom and school-wide level. All educators and the multilingual learners they serve will benefit from the affirming practices in this book."

Beth Skelton, Education Consultant
Educational Consultants, LLC

"One of the areas that has received less attention regarding the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students is social emotional learning. Staehr Fenner and Teich’s work, grounded on an advocacy stand, not only provides clear directions to implement SEL competencies for the benefit of MLs, but also describes the principles and rationale behind each of these competencies."

David Nieto, Associate Professor
Northern Illinois University

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