Volume 13, Issue 1 (2021)


Dear JELE Readers,

On behalf of the Sunshine State TESOL of Florida and SSTESOL Press, I am extremely excited about our new collaborative efforts with the Board of the Journal of English Learner Education (JELE) and the tremendous work that they do in publishing a quality journal biannually. In this issue, JELE is republishing a work that was published by SSTESOL Press in 2020 entitled Voices from the Sunshine State: Program and Policy Advocates by Ryan Pontier, Rosa Castro-Feinberg and Arlene Costello. In doing this, we at SSTESOL see another way we can highlight the wonderful work done in Florida with English Language Learners. Similarly, the SSTESOL Journal will also republish an article from a past JELE journal, again in the hope of focusing on the wonderful work with the ESOL community. In May 2022, JELE will publish a special issue focusing on Florida. I look forward to further collaborations between JELE and SSTESOL.


Tony Erben, Ph.D.
President 2022 SSTESOL & Editor SSTESOL Press
Professor of Education
Coordinator, ESOL Endorsement Programs
Department of Education
The University of Tampa

Here is our Call for Papers for the Spring 2022 Special Issue: TESOL Research, Theory, and Practice in the Sunshine State . Then we have an update for our lead article Voices from the Sunshine State.

Sincerely, Kerry Purmensky, Editor, JELE

Voices from the Sunshine State Update

Since the original publication of the chapter, advocates have engaged in continuous advocacy with and for emergent bilingual students across the state of Florida. This brief update draws attention to the three initially highlighted areas of advocacy: classroom and school-based, organizational policy/legal, and research/publication.

Even when presented the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic, Sunshine State TESOL of Florida (SSTESOL) held two successful conferences (2020, virtual; 2021, hybrid), gathering more than 500 TESOL educators in 2020 and close to 400 TESOL educators from across the U.S. and seven other countries in 2021. The meetings highlighted myriad issues affecting bilingual students classified as English learners, with more than 100 breakout sessions in both virtual and face-to-face formats. Sessions included adult education, advocacy, dual language, EAP/IEP, teacher education, and technology. Featured presentations focused on reconstructing teaching practices in the age of the pandemic, reading as an active skill, literacy, higher order thinking skills, mental and cognitive health in emotional journey. Both conferences featured recipients of SSTESOL grant awards, scholarships, and recognition of the Outstanding 2021 Educator, Excellence in Institutional Award, and SSTESOL Presidential Award.

Perhaps the most pressing issue during the COVID-19 pandemic was the need to ensure that Florida’s emergent students not only had safe access to equitable education, but also opportunities to engage with a variety of other students and teachers as they developed their bilingualism and academic skills. The issue of safe access was particularly acute for bilingual students in ESOL programs whose parents had already opted for in-home learning but were expected to risk their health during the post-holiday weeks by reporting to school testing centers for ACCESS for ELLs (English language proficiency testing). The Florida Department of Education responded positively to local, state, and national advocacy groups by extending the testing window and pledging to fully respect parents’ decision should they choose not to send their children to school to take this assessment. We count this outcome as one of the most significant, indeed, potentially lifesaving, success stories for SSTESOL and its partners.

Several bills on native language assessment as part of the accountability process for English learners were filed by a bipartisan and diverse group of legislators in 2020 and in 2021. None were voted on in committee meetings. In 2021, a last-ditch effort to get a vote on native language assessment resulted instead in approval of a waiver of the grade 10 English Language Arts (ELA) assessment graduation requirement for students who have been enrolled in ESOL programs for less than two years and have met all requirements for the standard high school diploma except for passage of any must-pass assessment under s. 1003.4282 or s. 1008.22 or alternate assessment. Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, they may meet the requirement to pass the statewide, standardized grade 10 English Language Arts assessment by satisfactorily demonstrating grade-level expectations on formative assessments, in accordance with state board rule.

Despite lack of movement from the state legislature, researchers in Florida have continued to carve out space for pushing the way we think about second language acquisition, bilingualism, and language education in an effort to prepare and support TESOL educators in their work with emergent bilingual students. In a recent edited volume entitled Envisioning TESOL through a Translanguaging Lens: Global Perspectives (Tian et al., 2020), Matthew Deroo (Deroo et al., 2020) and Sabrina Sembiante (Sembiante & Tian, 2020) contributed co-authored work that built on the work of those highlighted in our initial chapter (Coady et al., 2011, 2016; Gort & Sembiante, 2015; Pontier & Gort, 2016). Sembiante & Tian (2020) pushed us to adopt a dynamic orientation of bi/multilingualism that moves away from traditional monolingual orientations and focuses on social justice-oriented practice. Deroo et al. (2020) studied a pre-service teacher and an in-service teacher as they made sense of translanguaging alongside their knowledge and dispositions as TESOL educators and identified multiple tensions between new learning and existing knowledge. Pontier (in press) also found that several cohorts of undergraduate students in a teacher education program were slow to take up a translanguaging stance when prior messaging had trained them to approach bi/multilingualism with a monolingual mindset. Pacheco (2018) provided concrete examples of how emergent bilingual student’s non-English languages can be included in situations where English is the language that dominates. However, he cautioned that community responsiveness to this language use was key in the success of how students’ bilingualism was leveraged.

As the Florida TESOL community—including bilingual students—continues to move forward, we are excited to see how our school-based, organizational policy/legal, and research/publication advocacy work progresses.


Deroo, M. R., & Ponzio, C. M., & De Costa, P. I. (2020). Reenvisioning second language teacher education through translanguaging praxis. In Z. Tian, L. Aghai, P. Sayer, & J. L. Schissel (Eds.), Envisioning TESOL through a translanguaging lens: Global perspectives (pp. 111-134). Springer.

Pacheco, M. B. (2018). Spanish, Arabic, and “English-only”: Making meaning across languages in two classroom communities. TESOL Quarterly, 52(4), 995-1021. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.446

Pontier, R. W. (in press). Developing translanguaging stances in ESOL-focused teacher education courses: Teacher candidates’ beliefs about and knowledge of bilingualism and bilingual education. TESL-EJ.

Sembiante, S. F., & Tian, Z. (2020). The need for translanguaging in TESOL. In Z. Tian, L. Aghai, P. Sayer, & J. L. Schissel (Eds.), Envisioning TESOL through a translanguaging lens: Global perspectives (pp. 43-66). Springer.



Voices from the Sunshine State: Program and Policy Advocates
Ryan W. Pontier, Rosa Castro Feinberg, and Arlene Costello


Early Childhood Family Education: Language and Pre-Academic Skills for Latinx Dual Language Learners
Katherine B. Green, Robert A. Griffin, Chelsea T. Morris, and Mary Alice Varga


Strategies for Equitable ELL Family and Community Engagement
Stephanie K. Knight, Tracy Vasquez, and Marjaneh Gilpatrick


Bilingual Refugee-Background Student Resilience, Meta-Linguistic Awareness, and Pride in Bilingual Skills
Tunde Szecsi Dr., Debra Giambo, Rachel Bledsoe Bass, and William Buchanan