Ruslana Westerlund

Job Titles

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Linguistics
    Languages, Cultures, and Reconciliation Studies College of Arts and Sciences
  • Adjunct Instructor
    Education K-12 (M.A.), Graduate School


Drawing on her identity as a Christ-following Ukrainian immigrant, Professor Westerlund's passion is to advocate for linguistically and culturally minoritized people, including students in school systems at various levels. She tries to live Christ's highest calling to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Started at Bethel



  • Cherkasy Bohdan Khmelnytsky National University, Ukraine - B.A., 1994
  • Cherkasy Bohdan Khmelnytsky National University, Ukraine - M.A. in Education, 1995
  • Bethel University - Ed.D., 2014


Ruslana Westerlund, Ed.D. has been a faculty member (both adjunct and full-time) at Bethel University since 2002. She taught in the newly-created ESL Licensure program in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) until 2006. She continues to teach Linguistics for the college and Responsive Pedagogy for English Language Learners course at the Master's of Education program in the adjunct faculty role.

Her full-time job is in Madison, Wisconsin where she is an associate researcher at WIDA. It is housed at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her responsibilities include re-conceptualization and development of tools for the English Language Development (ELD) Standards Framework by working with teachers and researchers to inform the WIDA ELD Standards Framework. She believes that language development for these learners is situated at the intersection of the societal, school, and student socio-cultural contexts (Cortez, 1986) and that education of such learners encompasses issues beyond language and is deeply rooted in social justice.

Before coming to WIDA, Ruslana worked as an ELD Specialist at K-12, teacher preparation programs at undergraduate and graduate levels and served as an ELD and refugee student specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education. In that role, she managed grants from the Office of Refugee Resettlement and collaborated with various state departments to provide wrap-around services to refugee children. She completed her doctorate degree at Bethel University where she studied educational leadership. In her dissertation, she explored teachers’ sense-making of the WIDA ELD Standards in their daily practice. In her spare time, she blogs at Reclaiming The Language For Social Justice blog. She is married and has two children and two dogs and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Courses Taught

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Modern World Languages

  • Curriculum and Instruction Development
  • ESL Methods
  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • Second Language Acquisition

Graduate School, Masters of Education program

  • Responsive Pedagogy for English Language Learners


Westerlund, R. (2016). WIDA Focus On Bulletin: Writing with a purpose. Madison, WI: Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Retrieved from:

Morita-Mullaney, T., & Westerlund, R. (2016). The No Child Left Behind Flexibility Waivers and English Learners: A Midwestern Portrait of Minnesota and Indiana Policies. MinneTESOL Journal. Fall. Retrieved from

Westerlund, R. (2014). Lost in Translation: A Descriptive Case Study of a K-5 Urban Charter School Implementing the WIDA ELD Standards. Unpublished Dissertation, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota


Genre-Based Approaches to Developing and Assessing Writing for Multilingual Writers, Workshop Session, National Association for State Directors of Migrant Education Conference, May, 2017 Orlando, Florida

Genre-Based Approaches to Developing and Assessing Writing for Multilingual Writers, Workshop Session, WIDA Conference, October, 2017 Tampa, Florida

Guiding Principles for Identification and Services of Gifted English Learners, Literature Review and Leadership Consulting, November 2016, Roseville Public Schools, Minnesota

Language is for the Living of Life, not for the Production of Structures, Keynote at the Dakota TESL Conference, October 2016, Fargo, North Dakota

Academic Language Construct in the WIDA Standards Framework, Friday Seminar, University of Sydney, August, 2016, Sydney, Australia

WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, English Learner Language Specialists in South Asia Conference, November 2013, February 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

The Role of Language in Social Justice in Education, TEAL Manitoba Conference, October 2015, Manitoba, Canada

Implementation of the WIDA Standards Framework, Minnesota ESL, Bilingual, and Migrant Education Conference, November, 2013, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Certificates and Licenses

ESL K-12 Teaching License, Minnesota

Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards

American Association of Applied Linguistics

North American Systemic Functional Linguistics Association

American Education Research Association


Hobbies and Interests


Areas of expertise

English language development, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Genre-Based Pedagogy in K-12 settings

Research interests

Current research interests focus on the use of Systemic Functional Linguistics and its corresponding Genre-Based Pedagogy in scaffolding learning of English Language Learners.


Your life's work is where the needs of the world and the joys of your heart intersect.