Engaging English language learners in classroom interactions using the Response Protocol

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

The Reading Teacher



Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Despite the need to use and develop their English-language proficiency, English-language learners (ELLs) are often quiet during classroom discussions. The Response Protocol was developed to help teachers elicit and support the oral interactions of ELL students. The Response Protocol is a framework consisting of six types of responses that students might make to teacher queries. These response options range from providing accurate information in standard English to saying nothing at all. The tendency for students to disengage from teacher-initiated interactions can be offset by more skillful management of conversation and instruction. The Response Protocol provides follow-up prompts teachers can use to elicit, elaborate, and extend questions and answers. Each response category is described and illustrated with authentic classroom examples. The article also includes a list of general language development guidelines that serve to improve classroom talk and support the social, emotional, language, and academic growth of English-language learners.