Yasuko Kanno

Chair, Language & Literacy Education Department
Associate Professor

Yasuko Kanno

Dr. Yasuko Kanno is an associate professor of language education and chair of the Language & Literacy Education Department at BU Wheelock. She specializes in the education of multilingual students classified as English learners (ELs) and works closely with local schools in the Greater Boston area to increase educational opportunities for this population. A former EL herself, Dr. Kanno interrogates how and why different degrees of proficiency in society’s dominant language translate into differential educational opportunities for multilingual students, especially in terms of their access to postsecondary education.

Before arriving at Boston University, Dr. Kanno was an associate professor and program coordinator of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program at Temple University. Her most recent book, English Learners’ Access to Postsecondary Education: Neither College nor Career Ready (Multilingual Matters, 2021), is an ethnographic case study that explores seven ELs’ transition from high school to postsecondary education. Dr. Kanno is an editorial board member of the American Educational Research Journal and a member at large of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. She is the recipient of the 2015 TESOL Distinguished Research Award.

PhD, Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto

MA, Linguistics, Keio University

BA, French, Keio University

BI515: Methods in Bilingual Education

TL508: Methods in Teaching English as a Second Language

BI620: Educational Issues in Bilingual Education

RS 652: Introduction to Qualitative Research

RS 752: Seminar in Qualitative Research

Dr. Kanno studies immigrant English learner (EL) students' access to postsecondary education, exploring how EL students negotiate their transition from high school to college/vocational training and how high schools facilitate or hinder this process.

English Learners’ Transition from High School to Postsecondary Education: An Ethnographic Study (Multilingual Matters)

Why does a public high school, despite having resources and educators with good intentions, end up graduating English learners (ELs) without preparing them for college and career? This book answers this question through a longitudinal ethnographic case study of a diverse high school in Pennsylvania. The author takes the reader on a journey with seven EL students through their last two years of high school, exploring how and why none of them reached the postsecondary destinations they originally aspired to. This book provides a sobering look into the systemic undereducation of high school ELs and the role of high schools in limiting their postsecondary options.

Massachusetts English Learners’ Access to Four-Year Colleges: How Socioeconomic Status Structures Their Options

This study investigates how English learners navigate transition to postsecondary education and what role socioeconomic status (SES)—both students’ SES and schools’ SES—plays in shaping ELs’ college access. Through qualitative case studies of several public schools in the Greater Boston area, the study explores how schools that serve communities of various SES provide college guidance to their students and how ELs at these schools navigate the college-planning and application processes, with the goal towards identifying ELs’ barriers to four-year college access and providing better support for their postsecondary education. This project has been funded by the 2018 BU Wheelock Faculty Research Catalyst Award.

Massachusetts Youth Lived Experience Project (with Jon Zaff)

This project aims to capture the lived experiences of high school youth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Through qualitative interviews with more than 50 high school students of color living and attending schools in various parts of Massachusetts, we aim to illuminate the how the pandemic affected their lives and education. The project hopes to illuminate the urban educational inequities that have been vastly exacerbated by COVID-19, as well as the resilience and creativity of young people as they negotiated a unprecedented and prolonged crisis. This project has been funded by the BU Initiative on Cities’ Seed Grant.


Visit Dr. Kanno's Faculty Profile

Kanno, Y. (2021). English learners’ access to postsecondary education: Neither college nor career ready. Multilingual Matters.

Emerick, M. R., Hoffman, B., & Kanno, Y. (2020). Teaching Hispanic restaurant workers: Translanguaging as culturally sustaining pedagogy. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 51(3), 304-321.

Kanno, Y. (2018). Non-college-bound English learners as the underserved third: How students graduate from high school neither college- nor career-ready. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 23(4), 336-358.

Kanno, Y. (2018). High-performing English learners’ limited access to four-year college. Teachers College Record, 120(4), 1-46.

Nuñez, A,-M., Rios-Aguilar, C., Kanno, Y., Flores, S.M. (2016). English learners and their transition to postsecondary education. In M.B. Paulsen (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Volume 31 (pp. 41-90). New York: Springer.

Kanno, Y., & Cromley, J. (2015). English language learners’ pathways to four-year colleges. Teachers College Record, 117(120306), 1-44.

Kanno, Y., & Kangas, S.E.N. (2014). “I’m not going to be, like, for the AP”: English language learners’ limited access to advanced college-preparatory courses in high school. American Educational Research Journal, 51(5), 848-878.

Kanno, Y., & Harklau, L. (Eds.) (2012). Linguistic minority students go to college: Preparation, access, and persistence. New York: Routledge.

Kanno, Y., & Stuart, C. (2011). Learning to become a second language teacher: Identities in practice. Modern Language Journal, 95(2), 236-252.

Kanno, Y. (2016, November). English learners’ access to postsecondary education and opportunity to learn in high school. Keynote Address, Illinois TESOL Conference, Indianapolis, IN.

Kanno, Y. (2016, October). Neither college nor career ready: English learners’ transition to postsecondary education. Keynote Address, Terra Conference on English Language Learners, Buffalo, NY.

Kanno, Y. (2016, April). Latino English-learner students as the underserved third. TESOL Convention, Baltimore, MD. (Colloquium “Latina/o Students’ College and Career Readiness” organized by Ann Johns, with L. de Oliveira, T, Ruecker, and G. Kovats).

Kanno, Y., & Cromley, J. (2016, April). English learners’ high school academic preparation, community college enrollment, and eventual bachelor’s degree attainment. American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

Kanno, Y. (2015, March). English language learners, identity, and access to postsecondary Education. Plenary Speaker, American Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Kanno, Y. (2014, December). ELLs: Access to higher education and structural barriers. Keynote Address, William Patterson University 34th Annual Bilingual/ESL Conference, Wayne, NJ.

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