The Language of Content

Articles from the Speak Agent team that provide classroom resources, implementation strategies, research-based perspectives, and updates regarding our Content+LanguageSM platform.

The Speak Agent Difference: 3 Key Features of Our ELD Platform

August 15, 2023 | Divya Shannon |

Today’s classroom is changing. English language learners are the fastest growing student populations and they need support to learn the relevant academic language to succeed in today’s math and science classrooms. Academic language is nobody’s home language, and its importance cannot be overstated. All students can benefit from additional resources to better understand this specialized language required for comprehending and processing curriculum content, math reasoning, investigations of scientific phenomena, and general classroom discourse. Academic language is also a critical part of math and science assessments. As we’ve seen in the recent NAEP scores, math scores nationwide are declining at an alarming rate, particularly for our most vulnerable students.    

You may be aware of some programs that focus solely on English language learning and yet claim to support English Language Development (ELD) in the content areas. Speak Agent is unique, however, in the way it integrates content and language learning. Since 2017, we have been solely focused on significantly impacting math, science, and ELD outcomes among all learners by improving vocabulary, content knowledge, communication, and reasoning skills through our Math+Language and Science+Language programs.

We believe in our platform, not only because we have worked hard to develop our offerings, but also because our program’s results show significant gains in student achievement across grade levels, subject areas, and English language proficiency levels.

Three Key Features

Here are three of our platform’s top value features that make the Speak Agent difference:

1. Every Lesson Features All Six Communication Modes

Speak Agent is the only content and language integration platform that includes all six expressive and interpretive communication modes in every single lesson. Multimodality is at the core of Speak Agent’s Content+Language programs. Multimodality is essential to ensuring that every student can access, engage, and excel in math and science.  In addition to spoken and written language, students also communicate through symbols, photos, animations, graphs, diagrams, maps, equations, videos, and other means.

Interpretive Communication in Speak Agent:

Interpretive communication includes reading, listening, and viewing. Each Speak Agent lesson challenges students to use active reading strategies and interactivity to respond to or manipulate the text. Speak Agent also embeds a listening component into every learning activity. Our activities also include viewing, a learning mode where students interpret the meaning of visual media. 

Expressive Communication in Speak Agent

Expressive communication includes speaking, writing, and representing. Speak Agent provides many scaffolded writing opportunities that help students progress from simple gap-filling all the way to writing explanations of their reasoning, claims, and conclusions. Each time students are asked to write, they are also given the opportunity to record their spoken answers instead. There are also activities dedicated to speaking, that allow students to record themselves several times, listen back, and choose the best sample to submit to their teacher. Representation can be challenging on a virtual platform, but our lessons include opportunities by providing scenarios and examples that encourage students to draw or graph their ideas as they answer questions and show their mastery of content. In some cases, they can upload images of their work, or teachers can access in-person extensions to activities that have students engaging with content away from their computers.

2. Speak Agent Maps to the Math and Science Curriculum for Every District

Speak Agent’s Math+Language and Science+Language programs improve performance by empowering students to learn content through language. The ready-to-use digital lessons seamlessly integrate with a school district’s existing curriculum and provide real-time formative assessment data.


Our programs align with both national and state standards and can be used with any math, science, or STEM curriculum. Unlike other platforms, we go a step further and provide districts with ready-to-use digital lessons and activities that are mapped specifically to each district’s scope, sequence, and pacing. This saves educators time and energy and streamlines implementation of the platform in schools. Each Speak Agent lesson corresponds to a unit of study in the district’s curriculum and builds concept knowledge at three levels of depth, with each activity addressing a critical part of academic language development.

Speak Agent has earned both Research-Based Design and Learner Variability certifications. As a Research-Based Design certified product, Speak Agent embeds 36 research-based instructional strategies into our programs’ lessons and activities, saving teachers countless hours of planning and preparation time. As a Learner Variability certified product, Speak Agent is designed for universal accessibility, including special needs and multilingual learners. Additionally, our programs offer a variety of tools for differentiated instruction, built-in language supports, and visual aids.


3. Speak Agent Programs Are Evidence-Based and Effective for Historically Marginalized Learners 

Speak Agent’s Math+Language and Science+Language programs are backed by large-scale, independent research and Tier-2 ESSA evidence showing that they positively impact both content and language learning. The programs significantly boost achievement in Math, Science, and ELD among historically marginalized learners by empowering all students to learn content through language. Research sponsors have included the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) within the US Department of Education. Independent researchers have conducted large-scale and small-scale studies to determine the impacts of Speak Agent programs across student groups ranging in location, grade levels, and demographics.

Leanlab Education, a nonprofit research organization, conducted a quasi-experimental data analysis (N=46,929) of 1,597 classrooms in 86 schools and found that Speak Agent’s Math+Language program led to significant gains in math scores for historically marginalized middle grade student populations. By following the recommended dosage, students were able to achieve gains of 10.3 percent or more on their math assessment scores. Additionally, the study found a significant effect on multilingual learners’ English Language Proficiency and WIDA ACCESS scores across all language domains. 

Likewise, a quasi-experimental design (QED), two-phase impact study sponsored by the NSF found significant gains in elementary science concepts and vocabulary using Speak Agent Science+Language. This study compared five second-grade classes totaling 74 students, 59 (80%) of whom were ELLs, at two schools in a central Texas public school district. With an average of less than 30 minutes of usage per week, Science+Language accelerated science concept mastery by 210% over standard instruction.

Speak Agent Stands Out:

These three key features are what make Speak Agent stand out as a powerful ELD platform redefining the way students learn content through language. Through a wide array of communication modes, curriculum mapping, and research-based instruction, Speak Agent empowers historically marginalized and multilingual learners to achieve remarkable gains in math, science, and ELD outcomes.

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Divya Shannon

Written by Divya Shannon

Divya is Speak Agent's secondary STEM specialist with 11 years of experience teaching all levels of high school math, biology, physics, and chemistry.