Restrictive Language Policy in Practice: English Learners in Arizona

Author: Amy J. Heineke

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As the most restrictive language policy context in the United States, Arizona's monolingual and prescriptive approach to teaching English learners continues to capture international attention. More than five school years after initial implementation, this study uses qualitative data from the individuals doing the policy work to provide a holistic picture of the complexities and intricacies of Arizona's language policy in practice. Drawing on the varied perspectives of teachers, leaders, administrators, teacher-educators, lawmakers and community activists, the book examines the lived experiences of those involved in Arizona's language policy on a daily basis, highlighting the importance of local perspectives and experiences as well as the need to prepare and professionalize teachers of English learners.

Restrictive Language Policy in Practice is a tour-de-force study of the impact of restrictive language policy on the lives of administrators, teachers, and students. No other work to date has examined restrictive language policy in the United States and the damage it can cause to English learners. A must-read for educators and language policy scholars.

Christian Faltis, The Ohio State University, USA

In this detailed, comprehensive case study of language policy in Arizona, Heineke provides an in-depth, close-up view of language policy processes and their impact at different policy levels (e.g. classroom, district, state) and offers strategies for shifting our paradigm from top-down policies to bottom-up professionalization.

Ester de Jong, University of Florida, USA

A previous elementary teacher within the Phoenix school system, the author provides a uniquely comprehensive investigation into what has been deemed the nation's most restrictive context for English learners (ELs). Her focal case study breaks down the limitations of a one-size-fits-all language policy in the classroom and at the district and state levels, and offers informed, practical solutions to positively affect change for ELs in Arizona.

International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 2018

The study is among the first of its kind to provide an in-depth account of the multifaceted layers and players involved in Arizona's language-in-education policy—particularly given its emphasis on the ELD block, and serves as a valuable resource for researchers interested in investigating the underlying complexities associated with negotiating ideologies across multiple layers of LPP.

Language Policy (2018) 17

Heineke's well-organized text adds a textured, thoughtful, qualitative vertical case study approach to the growing body of work exploring the multilayered impact of Arizona's restrictive language policies.

International Multilingual Research Journal, 2019, Vol. 13, No. 1

Heineke's monograph is a powerful portrait of a language policy implementation and is well worth reading.

Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 2018

[This book] is an excellent resource for language policy practitioners and researchers. It provides substantial information on restrictive language policies and the academic
impact they have on bilingual and EL student populations.

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 2019, Vol. 41(1)

Amy J. Heineke is Associate Professor of Education in the School of Education, Loyola University Chicago, USA, where she leads undergraduate and graduate teacher education programs focused on English learners and bilingual education. Her research interests include language policy, English learners and teacher preparation.


1. Introduction

2. Looking Back: Historical Lens on Arizona Policies and Practices

3. Contemporary Context of English Learner Education


4. Starting at the Center: English Language Development in Classrooms

5. Local Policy [P]layers: Classroom, School and District Educators

6. Administrators and Educators: State Educational Policy in Practice

7. Legislators and Lobbyists: Power, Politics and Policy in Arizona


8. Rationalizing the Education of English Learners in Arizona: The Complexities of Language Policy in Practice

9. Looking Forward: Recommendations for English Learner Education

Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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