Empowering Hispanics in Higher Education Through the Operationalization of Academic English Strategies

  • Alma M. SándigoEmail author
  • Patricia Peterson
  • Kathleen Abou-Rjaily
Living reference work entry


Incorporating purposeful academic English strategies into higher education promotes equitable access to instruction and supports understanding through different perspectives and experiences. This is especially true for Hispanics (which refers here to anyone from a Spanish-speaking background). Because the perspectives and experiences of the Hispanic student population is so diverse, approaches for operationalizing academic English should include the following: viewing the various language backgrounds of Hispanic students as opportunity rather than deficit; using a holistic approach to assess content and academic English proficiency of students; creating academic supports that weave together content knowledge and skills, literacy, and academic English; and using instructional practices that facilitate the understanding and application of academic English.

Academic English strategies encompass both cognitive engagement and expressions of knowledge within the subject. A single definition of academic English does not yet exist, but research has identified academic English proficiency as a key factor in higher education attainment. The expectations vary by discipline (e.g., mathematics or English) and by maturity and experience in the discipline. However, including a focus on the linguistic structural dimensions of discourse, sentence complexity, and vocabulary can provide effective support for strengthening academic English. The operationalization of academic English should be a core component of academic support systems in higher education, resulting in higher college achievement.


Hispanics College achievement National economy Social equality Salary gap Educational gap Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Hispanic Serving Institutions Institutional choice Profiles of Hispanic students National Center for Education and Statistics Sociocultural, academic, and linguistic background Heterogeneity of Hispanics English language learners Nonimmigrant Hispanics First-generation Hispanic immigrants One-point-five immigrant generation Second immigrant generation Non-rigorous curriculum Long-term ELL Third generation Hispanic heritage Academic capital Remedial classes Academic English Comprehensive academic support Comprehensive approach Academic English definition Knowledge process Knowledge expression Context Interpretations Discourse Sentence complexity Content vocabulary Operationalizing academic English Vision and mission Opportunity Content and academic English assessments Academic support Scholarships Professional development Instructional practices Academic English strategies Purpose Equity Characteristics of academic English strategies Examples of essential questions Organized information Frontload language Text structures Genre Deconstructing complex sentences Reading comprehension Content vocabulary Semantics Exemplar texts Rhetorically Modeling Words in context Circumlocution Cognates Basic unit of language Video clip Pictures Support systems Diverse students Open and explicit discussions Culture of institution Research Empower 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alma M. Sándigo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patricia Peterson
    • 1
  • Kathleen Abou-Rjaily
    • 1
  1. 1.Northern Arizona UniversityYumaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • John M. Heffron
    • 1
  1. 1.The Graduate SchoolSoka University of AmericaAliso ViejoUSA

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