Language Education Policy Studies
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U.S.-Immigrants and Minorities:

Funds of Knowledge Pedagogies 1

Teachers in U.S. public school systems will continue to face an increasing numbers of students from immigrant and refugee families who are likely to have some limited English proficiency (LEP).  Scholars estimate that “nearly a quarter of all of the nation’s children are the children of immigrants” (Baum & Flores, 2011, p. 173).  Providing equitable educational opportunities for these students and others from low-income families—students who may be perceived as suffering from cognitive/cultural deficits and social dysfunction--has long been a concern for K–12 educators.  Battles over different models for bilingual education have usually taken center stage in debates about how best to serve the needs of LEP students, and this will continue to be a crucial area for reform of language education policies to make them more supportive of immigrant and multilingual students. 


However, during the 1990s a team of education and anthropology scholars at the University of Arizona – including Luis C. Moll, Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff and Norma González -- pioneered an alternative, innovative strategy for countering the persistent deficit view of immigrant, working-class, and minority students, a pedagogy coupled with ethnographic research methods that they identified as a “funds of knowledge” approach. This phrase refers to “the historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (Moll et al, 1992, p. 133) that families of these students possess, especially in relation to their labor histories.  When teachers recognize that such students have such funds or rich resources of knowledge––rather than putative knowledge deficits in relation to the dominant language and culture––they can develop teaching methods to incorporate such knowledge into students’ learning experiences. 


The introductory chapter to the 2005 anthology Funds of Knowledge (González et al), provides detailed information to enable educators both to engage in ethnographic research about household and community funds of knowledge, and to translate such knowledge into classroom practice.  Especially during the era of No Child Left Behind, the authors felt it was important to “present a counterdiscourse to scripted and structured educational packages. . . . instruction must be linked to students’ lives, and the details of effective pedagogy should be linked to local histories and community contexts” (p. ix).  While not all teachers may have the resources or institutional support to carry out elaborate ethnographic investigations, the core pedagogical insights that shape such scholarship may still be adapted fruitfully by teachers at any educational level (see Zipin, 2009, for one adaptation model).  At the very least, teachers will benefit from shifting into the position of student or “learner” in relation to the broader communities in which they are teaching.  Continued on U.S. Immigrants and Minorities II.


Handout and worksheet paired with Luis Moll interview for Head Start website

Brief about Luis Moll & funds of knowledge from EdSource (multi-media education platform based in Calif.)

Explanatory webpage by Janet Kier Lopez (U of North Carolina)

Essay by Michael Genzuk (U of Southern California) from a 1999 curriculum guide for K–8 teachers in Los Angeles school districts

PowerPoint by Cecilia Rios-Aguilar (U Arizona) 


Funds of Knowledge (Part I)

Funds of Knowledge (Part II)


Baum, S. & Flores, S. M. (2011). Higher education and children in immigrant families. Immigrant Children, 21(1), 171–193.

Esteban-Guitart, M. (2012). Towards a multimethodological approach to identification of funds of identity, small stories and master narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 22, 173-180.

Esteban-Guitart, M. & Moll, L. C. (2014). Lived experience, funds of identity and education.  Culture & Psychology, 20(1), 70–81.

González, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hogg, L. (2011).  Funds of knowledge: An investigation of coherence within the literature.  Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 666–677

Howard, K. M. & Lipinoga, S.  (2008).  [Review of the book Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms.]  International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(5), 627–631.

McIntyre, E., Kyle, D. W., & Rightmeyer, E. C. (2005). Families’ funds of knowledge to mediate teaching in rural schools. Cultura y Educación, 17(2), 175-195.

Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & González, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141.

Moll, L. C., & González, N. (1994). Lessons from research with language-minority children.  Journal of Reading Behavior, 26(4), 439–456.

Vélez-Ibáñez, C. G., & Greenberg, J. B. (1992). Formation and transformation of funds of knowledge among U.S.–Mexican households. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 23, 313–335.

Subero, D., Vila, I., & Esteban-Guitart, M. (2015). Some contemporary forms of the funds of knowledge approach. Developing culturally responsive pedagogy for social justice.  International Journal of Educational Psychology, 4(1), 33–53.

Zipin, L. (2009).  Dark funds of knowledge, deep funds of pedagogy: Exploring boundaries between lifeworlds and schools.  Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 30(3), 317–331.

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M., & Gale, T. (2013). Educating for futures in marginalized regions: A sociological framework for rethinking and researching aspirations. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47(3), 227–246.



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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Garrett, Julia M. (2015). U.S.-Immigrants and Minorities: Funds of Knowledge Pedagogies Part I. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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