Supporting English learners: What do teachers need?

Two in five students in California public schools speak languages other than English at home. The state still has a long way to go to bring all those students to proficiency in English and help them master other subject areas.

Teachers often feel unprepared, without the training and materials they need. Hear from teachers about their experiences, learn from our panel of experts about what schools and districts can do to better equip educators to teach their English learners.

Read more about this roundtable.


Elvira G. Armas

Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners and Affiliated Faculty in the School of Education | Loyola Marymount University

Dr. Elvira G. Armas is the Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) and Affiliated Faculty in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, where she leads and supports CEEL’s P-21 local and national collaborative engagement initiatives. Throughout her career, she has served as a bilingual classroom teacher, mentor, district advisor, staff developer, grant writer, and curriculum materials developer. She has prepared and partnered with pre-service, intern, and in-service educators in the areas of leadership, curriculum, integrated standards-based instruction, assessment, and family/community engagement in culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

Dr. Armas is the co-author of several articles, policy briefs, and book chapters based on her research related to teacher preparationteaching and learning in bilingual settings, parent/community engagement, and assessment. She has also co-developed and served as project consultant for the K-12 curriculum “Supporting Refugee and Immigrant Students”, published by Californians Together. Dr. Armas holds a Teaching Credential, with Bilingual Authorization in Spanish as well as an administrative credential. She earned an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California with an emphasis in Language, Literacy, and Learning.

Laura Barbosa

Parent of an English language learner and the vice president of the District English Learner Advisory Committee for the San Leandro Unified

Laura Barbosa is the parent of an English language learner and the vice president of the District English Learner Advisory Committee for the San Leandro Unified School District. Laura also serves on the School Site Council and the English Learner Advisory Committee at Roosevelt Elementary School. She is the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion of the school’s Parent Teacher Association and is active in the group Voces Unidas, for Spanish-speaking parents. She is the daughter of immigrants and was an English learner herself.

Marina Berry

First grade teacher | Lodi Unified School District

Marina Berry teaches first grade at Sutherland Elementary School in Lodi Unified School District. She has been teaching for 19 years. Berry graduated from CSU Stanislaus in 2002 with a B.A. in liberal arts and ethnics concentration. She received a bilingual, cross-cultural, language and academic development teaching credential in 2005 and an administration credential in 2015.

Nicole Thompson

Fourth grade teacher | Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Nicole Thompson teaches fourth grade at Macquiddy Elementary School in Pajaro Valley Unified School District located in Watsonville, now in her fifth year as a teacher. She attended Arizona State University in the “Diversity in Language and Learning” Elementary Education Program. After graduation, she moved to Madrid, Spain for two years to teach English as a language assistant. Thompson values her education and experience in working with multilingual learners and is passionate about supporting her students to access grade level curriculum in an engaging way.

Natalie Tran

Professor of education and director of the National Resource Center for Asian Languages | California State University, Fullerton

Dr. Natalie Tran is a Professor of Education and Director of the National Resource Center for Asian Languages (NRCAL) at California State University, Fullerton. She is a strong advocate for language programs and has played an integral role for the development and expansion of the Vietnamese Dual Language programs in the U.S. Her research interests include STEM education, dual-language immersion programs, mindfulness, and diversity in higher education. 

Zaidee Stavely

Panel moderator; reporter, EdSource

Zaidee Stavely covers immigration and education for EdSource and hosts the weekly podcast, Education Beat. She is a bilingual print and radio reporter who has worked in Mexico and the U.S. She has covered education, immigration, environmental justice and traditional arts for KQED, Radio Bilingüe, and Public Radio International’s “The World,” among other outlets. Zaidee has won numerous awards for her journalism, including an Emmy, a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, an Excellence in Journalism Award from SPJ Northern California, and the Rubén Salazar Award from CCCNMA: Latino Journalists of California. She grew up in rural Mendocino County, where both her parents taught in public one-room schoolhouses. She has a Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies and Community Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She lives in Oakland with her husband and two children.

Anne Vasquez

Panel moderator; CEO, EdSource

Anne Vasquez took the helm as EdSource’s chief executive in May 2021. Previously, she served as Director of Content and Strategic Initiatives at EdSource. In that role, she helped shape editorial strategy, grow partnerships and expand the organization’s footprint throughout California. Prior to joining EdSource, Anne was an executive at Tribune Publishing, where she most recently served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief Digital Officer. She previously was the Managing Editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Anne began her career at The Miami Herald and the San Jose Mercury News, where she was an education reporter and later an editor.