Language, Literacy, & Culture

The scholars in the language, literacy, & culture community at the UMass Amherst College of Education focus on a wide range of topics within the rubric of language, literacy, and culture.

These include first and second language acquisition, ESL, bilingual and world language education, reading, writing, children’s literature, multicultural education, multiliteracies, oral communication, information processing, critical thinking, media literacy, multimodality, creativity/innovation, global awareness, cultural competency, problem-solving, teamwork/collaboration, self-directed learning, and leadership. In the interaction and interplay of these areas, our students and faculty seek to transform education to better meet the needs of all learners in a diverse society. 

We are committed to a scholarly engagement approach to research, developing deep investments in and reciprocal relationships with the communities with whom we undertake research. We support a teacher-as-research stance to professional development, valuing and sharing the knowledge teachers build through classroom experience. We take a critical and functional view of language and language learning, seeking to understand and challenge the cultural and social underpinnings of communication. We maintain a recursive focus on issues concerning social justice and the institutional and political contexts influencing public education.


Students in bilingual, English as a second language, and multicultural education prepare to help people in a wide range of contexts acquire additional languages and literacies. They become leaders in second language education and multicultural education and are prepared to pursue teaching licenses in ESL or bilingual education.

Reading and writing master’s students seek to understand multiliteracies—the complex social practices through which we communicate. They prepare to develop educational settings where forms of literacy from all cultures are valued and sustained. Reading and writing students are prepared to pursue reading specialist licenses if they choose.

Students in our doctoral program undertake research that transforms schools, communities, and the broader society. They study ideologies and power relations, the ways in which language, literacy, and culture impact how individuals negotiate participation in their communities, and how people express and develop social identities. Their coursework includes foundational courses in language, literacy, and culture, a specialization in one of these areas, and extensive research methodology.

Note: The education specialist degree (Ed.S) is an option for students who would like to pursue an advanced degree beyond a master's, without the dissertation component of the doctorate.