Sheltered instruction is a pedagogical approach that makes lessons meaningful and understandable for students learning grade-level content through a new language. They need to have access to content material and opportunities to practice academic skills and tasks common to mainstream classes in order to be successful (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2009). Sheltered instruction also gives students an opportunity to learn the language used in school as they master important subject area topics and skills. When lessons are carefully planned, students will learn the academic language of the subject areas (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2017).

Sheltered instruction is used for instruction in all subjects, such as social studies, math, science, reading, and language arts instruction, and across all grade levels. It is used in English-medium subject-area classrooms, dual language classrooms, language immersion classrooms, content-based ESL classrooms, and the like. Any classroom in which students are learning content in a language that is not their home language can use sheltered instruction. In addition to knowledge of the curriculum, teachers must be aware of students’ proficiency levels, understand how second language acquisition works, and have a repertoire of techniques that integrate language and content practice.

Similar terms for sheltered instruction include sheltered English immersion (SEI), specially designed academic instruction in English (SDAIE), and content and language integrated learning (CLIL). Although sheltered instruction is used in a variety of ways, the most widely used form of sheltered instruction is the SIOP Model, which has been shown to improve the academic performance of second language learners (Short, Echevarria, & Richards-Tutor, 2011).