Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching leverages and utilizes the cultural learning tools that students bring to the classroom.

Culturally Responsive Teaching is an approach that leverages the strengths that students of color bring to the classroom to make learning more relevant and effective. A major goal of Culturally Responsive Teaching is to reverse patterns of underachievement for students of color. Culturally Responsive Teaching requires teachers to recognize the cultural capital and tools that students of color bring to the classroom and to utilize their students’ cultural learning tools throughout instruction.

Although Culturally Responsive Teaching is inclusive of working with students from diverse home language groups, linguistically responsive teaching is called out in Sharroky Hollie’s book, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning (2017). Its essence also lies in viewing students with home languages (other than Standard English) as assets that they bring to the classroom rather than deficits.

Principle one of California’s English Learner Roadmap expresses the needs for culturally and linguistically relevant education stating, “The languages and cultures English learners bring to their education are assets for their own learning and are important contributions to learning communities.”

Drawing on extensive Culturally Responsive Teaching research, New America in their article “Culturally Responsive Teaching: A 50-State Survey of Teaching Standards”External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), cites eight competencies that culturally responsive educators possess:

Competency Description
1. Reflect on one's cultural lens Culturally Responsive Educators (CREs) are reflective about their own group memberships that may be based on race, ethnicity, social class, and/or gender. They are cognizant that their life experiences and those group memberships may create biases that can influence their interactions with students, families, and colleagues.
2. Recognize and redress bias in the system CREs recognize that their students’ access to educational opportunities may be influenced by their social markers (e.g., race, ethnicity, social class and language) and advocate for all students to have access to high-quality teachers and schools.
3. Draw on students’ culture to shape curriculum and instruction CREs draw on their students’ cultures and life experiences when planning their instruction and reject instructional materials that contain cultural biases and/or stereotypes. They supplement the curriculum if it lacks the representation of their students’ heritage.
4. Bring real-world issues into the classroom CREs connect their curriculum to real-world problems and ask students to consider solutions to them. These issues may involve injustices that exist in their communities or nationwide. Through this process, CREs empower their students to see themselves as change agents that can right the injustices that exist in the world.
5. Model high expectations for all students CREs hold high academic expectations for all students and believe that all students are capable of academic success.
6. Promote respect for student differences CREs are models for how all students should respect one another and embrace their fellow classmate’s social, cultural, and linguistic differences.
7. Collaborate with families and the local community CREs work to break down barriers that may keep students’ families from participating in their children’s education (i.e., work schedules, language barriers). CREs make efforts to learn about the families and community in which they teach.
8. Communicate in linguistically and culturally responsive ways CREs understand and honor both the verbal and nonverbal culturally-influenced communication styles of the community in which they teach. They also seek to communicate with parents that speak a home language other than English by utilizing translation services. 


California’s English Learner Roadmap Principles Overview

Geneva Gay, Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice, Teachers College Press (2000).

Jenny Muñiz, “The ‘Rigor Gap’ Affects English Learners, New Study Finds” External link opens in new window or tab. , New America (2019), accessed October 2019.

Jenny Muñiz, “Culturally Responsive Teaching A 50-State Survey of Teaching Standards” External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), New America (2019), accessed October 2019.

Sharroky Hollie, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning-Classroom Practices for Student Success, Shell Education (2017).

Zaretta Hammond, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Corwin (2015).

Questions:   Teacher and Leader Policy Office | | 916-445-7331
Last Reviewed: Friday, April 12, 2024
Recently Posted in Educator Excellence