Intensive Intervention & English Learners

English learners (ELs), as defined by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, are individuals enrolled in school between the ages of 3 and 21 whose native language is not English. Although ELs are categorized under a single, homogeneous label, they represent a diverse population of students with wide-ranging cultural experiences, native and second-language proficiencies, and varying degrees of subject matter knowledge (Vaughn et al., 2019). 

Delivering intensive intervention for ELs involves consistent attention to students’ language development, culture, and academic and behavioral needs throughout the DBI process. Supporting ELs with intensive needs depends on an educator’s

  • knowledge of the development of second-language acquisition and its influence on learning and engagement in the classroom.
  • understanding of each student’s learning experiences in both English and their first language.
  • awareness of the influence of the student’s culture on learning behaviors, language development, and language attitudes.
  • holistic view of the student, including the impact of language and culture when making decisions based on ongoing academic and/or behavioral progress data.

In this section, you will find materials to support educators in implementing intensive intervention for Els, including strategies to support language development within intensive intervention.

Tools and Resources to Support Implementing Intensive Intervention for English Learners

Vaughn, S., Martinez, L. R., Williams, K. J., Miciak, J., Fall, A., & Roberts, G. (2019). Efficacy of a high school extensive reading intervention for English learners with reading difficulties, Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(3), 373–386.

Related Resources

Resource List

Resource List: Academic Assessment, Instruction, and Intervention for English Learners


Why is it important to consider whether an assessment is biased against a sub-group?


RTI for English Language Learners: Appropriately Using Screening and Progress Monitoring Tools to Improve Instructional Outcomes


Multitiered System of Supports for English Learners

See more



When developing a hypothesis for why an English Learner is not making adequate progress, consider the impact of language development, learning challenges, and cultural influences of learning.