Spring '24 Rewind, Episode 14

Spring '24 Rewind: Biliteracy and assessment, with Lillian Durán, Ph.D.

Susan Lambert joins biliteracy expert and professor Lillian Durán, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and researches the improvement of instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged multilingual/English learners.

Durán begins by pointing out the difference between being bilingual and biliterate, then describes the key advantages of being bilingual and the unique skills students who speak multiple languages bring to school. She then discusses how the Simple View of Reading connects to Spanish, the double standard that often occurs when bilingual students are celebrated vs. when they are not, and the process of screening and assessment for multilingual/English learner students. Lastly, Durán compels educators to avoid viewing biliteracy and dual language support as a sub-population of their classroom and instead prioritize the development of students’ home languages, whatever they may be, alongside English instruction.

Meet our guest(s):

Lillian Durán, Ph.D.

Lillian Durán has a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and is a professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Services at the University of Oregon. She holds a bachelor’s in elementary education from Antioch College and a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University. Her research focuses on large-scale equitable language and literacy measurement development in English and Spanish from preschool to 6th grade. She also is project director on several training grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, which prepare master’s and doctoral students to serve marginalized populations with disabilities with a focus on equity and improving educational outcomes. Durán frequently delivers presentations on the topic of recommended practices in language, and on literacy practices with multilingual/English learners. She has served on multiple equity and diversity councils, including the National Association for Young Children and the Division for Early Childhood. Prior to her work in higher education,Durán spent nine years as an elementary special education teacher both in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and in rural southwestern Minnesota.

Meet our host, Susan Lambert

Susan Lambert is the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Humanities at Amplify, and the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast. Her career has been focused on creating high-quality learning environments using evidence-based practices. Lambert is a mom of four, a grandma of four, a world traveler, and a collector of stories.

As the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast, Lambert explores the increasing body of scientific research around how reading is best taught. As a former classroom teacher, administrator, and curriculum developer, Lambert is dedicated to turning theory into best practices that educators can put right to use in the classroom, and to showcasing national models of reading instruction excellence.

Transcripts and additional resources

Show notes:


“Language is inextricably linked to culture. We want to make sure these families and children feel valued and honored within our schools.” —Lillian Durán, Ph.D.
“No matter what language you start to learn some of those skills in, there's a transfer and understanding of how to listen to sounds and how to put sounds together.” —Lillian Durán, Ph.D.