2022 ESL Symposium

Landmark Legislation and Arkansas Act 663 Bilingual Education/Dual Immersion

Envisioning Possibilities for Schools, Teachers, and Emergent Bilingual Students with a Translanguaging Lens

Flyer for the 2022, 14th annual ESL Symposium

University of Arkansas 14th Annual ESL Symposium

9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022

The symposium is being presented Covid style — virtually from your own computer in your location and at no cost.

☞ Please register online

The flyer for the 14th annual symposium can be downloaded (PDF).

The English as a Second Language Symposium is sponsored by the U of A College of Education and Health Professions.

Keynote Speakers

Shantel E. Meek, Ph.D.Shantel E. Meek, Ph.D., is a professor of practice and the founding director of the Children's Equity Project (CEP) at Arizona State University. She manages strategic partnerships with CEP partners at 15 universities and non-profit organizations, policymakers, and national organizations, and sets the strategic direction of the CEP. Dr. Meek previously served as a consultant in early childhood policy and strategy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C., where she advised senior staff on a range of federal and state equity and early childhood policy issues.

Rep. Megan GodfreyRep. Megan Godfrey is a second-term legislator in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Driven by her core values of compassion, equality and inclusiveness, Rep. Godfrey represents her hometown of Springdale with a commitment to elevating all of the diverse voices of District 89. Her most significant legislative accomplishments include allowing DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals federal policy) recipients to be licensed as nurses, permitting candidates to use campaign funds for campaign-related childcare expenses, and allowing bilingual and dual immersion programs in Arkansas schools. She serves on the House Education Committee and the City, County and Local Affairs Committee. Outside of the Legislature, Rep. Godfrey was a career-long public educator and will complete her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the U of A this spring.

Susana Ibarra Johnson, Ph.D.Susana Ibarra Johnson, Ph.D. ,is an assistant professor of bilingual education and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. She specializes in developing bi/multilingual and biliteracy curriculum, instruction and assessment with bilingual/TESOL educators through participatory action research. Her research focuses on translanguaging pedagogy in bilingual education and English language development contexts to promote effective bilingual education instructional programs and materials for emergent bilingual student populations.

Program Sessions

Supporting the Youngest Emerging Bilingual Children in Policy and Funding Decisions — Dr. Meek

Young bilingual children under age 5 are a large and growing population. Like their older siblings and peers, they are diverse by nearly every measure. Prior to kindergarten entry, they are served in every sector of the early care and education system, including Head Start, public pre-K, and child care- both regulated and not regulated. Unfortunately, the majority of these children are not afforded targeted services and supports, and are not entitled to a specific funding stream, like their school-aged peers. In addition, they are lacking in legal protections for adequate and equitable services, as most legal precedent establishing rights or guaranteeing access to supports for children learning English, do not apply or have historically not applied to the youngest learners. This keynote will focus on young bilingual learners and, based on the science of brain development and bilingualism, discuss how they should be included and considered in policy and funding decisions and the federal, state, and local levels, to strive for optimal outcomes.

Championing Pro-Immigrant Education Policy in Challenging Contexts —Rep. Godfrey

Immigrant, EL, and CLD students benefit from education policy that supports their unique learning needs and empowers them for success. However, many policy contexts make the success of pro-immigrant education policy unlikely. Rep. Godfrey will share key takeaways from her research and her experience as a state legislator in Arkansas about the political work that facilitated the passage of two pro-immigrant education policies in Arkansas: 1) bilingual education and dual immersion programs and 2) DACA teachers. Educators, policymakers, and scholars of curriculum and instruction for English learners can apply these concepts in their work, no matter their role, their context, or the challenges in their way.

Implementing a Translanguaging Space —Dr. Ibarra Johnson

In this session, we will learn about translanguaging core beliefs and the different entry points to leverage translanguaging in your classroom. Then, we will consider what translanguaging is from the voices of three bilingual education teachers followed by classroom examples of their flexible language use with students. Finally, you will act by reviewing resources and planning a translanguaging space for your emergent bilingual students.


  • 9-9:05 a.m. — Welcome and Overview of the ESL Symposium
  • 9:05-9:35 — Supporting the Youngest Emerging Bilingual Children in Policy and Funding Decisions — Dr. Shantel E. Meek
  • 9:35-9:55 — Championing Pro-Immigrant Education Policy in Challenging Contexts — Arkansas state Rep. Megan Godfrey, District 89
  • 9:55-11:55 — Implementing a Translanguaging Space — Dr. Susana Ibarra Johnson
  • 11:55-12:50 p.m. — Community Resources Supporting Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families
  • 12:50-1 — Closing Remarks and Online Evaluation Survey

For more information on the 14th annual ESL Symposium, please contact either Diana Gonzales Worthen, Ph.D., or Alissa Blair, Ph.D.

Continuing Education Units

Participants will receive a certificate for 4 hours of Professional Development and DESE Assurance Number upon completion of a survey.