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Teachers who work with English as a Second Language learners will find ESL/ESOL/ELL/EFL reading/writing skill-building children's books, stories, activities, ideas, strategies to help PreK-3, 4-8, and 9-12 students learn to read.

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Research & Reports

Transfer of Literacy Skills

Advancing Adolescent Literacy: The Cornerstone of School Reform

Author: Carnegie Corporation of New York

Summary: The emergence of a global economy has raised the standards of literacy around the world. This report examines the trend of adolescent readers not holding up to the international literacy standards and the initiatives/reforms being done to combat this. The report is a summation of additional reports compiled by the organization “focused on a range of relevant topics such as comprehension assessment, out-of-school learning, writing in adolescence, literacy coaching standards, instructional needs of second language learners and literacy in the content areas.”

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Tags: Books and Other Reading Materials; Phonological Awareness; Reading; Spelling; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Writing;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What steps can be taken improve literacy instruction in grades 4-12 (especially among adolescents)?

Findings:

  • The most recent data show that although U.S. students in grade four score among the best in the world, those in grade eight score much lower. And by grade ten, U.S. students score among the lowest in the world.
  • Lack of literacy skills renders students unable to understand, evaluate and judge the information they hear and read, or to convey complex ideas, whether in the college classroom or the workplace-all of which act as a barrier to finding employment and exercising their full rights as citizens.
  • A lack of capacity, time and will for middle and high school teachers to teach literacy within their content areas;
  • Inadequate reinforcement of comprehension of "informational text" in early reading;
  • Few strategies provided pupils at the end of the third grade for dealing with a rapid shift from narrative to expository text;
  • Absence of systemic thinking in schools about literacy beyond age eight;
  • Decrease in students' motivation to read as they progress from fourth through twelfth grade;
  • Middle and high school designs with insufficient capacity to identify and target students requiring literacy assistance;
  • Little awareness by parents and community groups that literacy instruction needs to continue after children have acquired basic decoding skills.
  • Districts need to focus on increasing capacity (particularly training teachers) to adopt literacy practices within the school day, especially to embed literacy practices within content areas.
  • Attention should be devoted to special challenges of English language learners.
  • Reform efforts need to make literacy a central concern and to build ideas for advancing literacy into school redesign.

Advancing Adolescent Literacy: The Cornerstone of School Reform. (2010). New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Approaches to Writing Instruction for Adolescent English Language Learners: A Discussion of Recent Research and Practice Literature in Relation to Nationwide Standards on Writing

Author: The Education Alliance-Brown University; Fogelman, C., Harrington, M., Kenney, E., Pacheco, M., Panofsky, C., Santos, J., et al.

Summary: With increasing and higher standards set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and changes in the SAT writing assessment, students are required to show proficiency using a variety of writing styles both in school and eventually the workplace. Yet as the ESL field has focused more on oral language and language structures rather than writing proficiency, ELLs — and their instructors — are often unprepared to successfully complete intensive writing assessments. As a result, the authors of the report argue that there is a need to pinpoint and understand a knowledge base for teaching writing to adolescent ELLs.

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Tags: Curriculum; Instructional Programs; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Motivation; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Writing;

Target Population: Middle, High School, Post-Secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What is the available research base and practice literature to help teachers prepare ELLs to meet the standards?
  • What is the quality and quantity of the research base?
  • How does it contribute to efforts to improve pedagogy, curricula, and programming?
  • Is there a common set of standards for writing across the nation, and if so, what is it?
  • Does the research and practice literature connect to the standards? If so, how?
  • Where are the gaps, if any, between the research and the standards?

Findings:

  • The field of ESL is based on applied linguistics, which has historically focused on oral language and language structure, rather than writing composition. The assumption that oral language precedes and leads to written language ignores the possibility that written language can be a source for oral language development.
  • Second language learning research has focused on young or elementary age learners or on higher education and international students but rarely on adolescents, especially U.S. resident and immigrant ELLs.
  • The field of composition has focused on native speakers and assumes native competence of writing students, and even when L2 research began to focus on writing, it was in foreign language contexts (EFL and FL teaching) and at the college level.
  • ELLs in U.S. high schools receive insufficient writing instruction in ESL; insufficient oral and structural language support in mainstream English; and insufficient content instruction prior to mainstreaming.
  • Assessment of second language writing is complex and problematic; timed writing often results in significant underperformance of ELLs, and raters are overly influenced by surface level of L2 writing.
  • Motivations for revision and peer interaction are based on context rather than individual learner characteristics.
  • The use of computers can facilitate production and revision of written texts.
  • Teacher feedback varies in effectiveness and is most successful for immigrant and U.S. resident adolescent students when it is specific (rather than global), when it identifies examples from the student's writing, when it asks for specific information from personal experience or texts, and when it uses indirect error correction (identifying error but requiring student to correct it).
  • A disciplinary division of labor exists between the fields of ESL and mainstream English language arts and composition that significantly affects research, curricula, and teacher preparation.

Policy Recommendations:

  • There is a need for studies that can provide a solid knowledge base on both middle and high school ELLs.
  • Substantial research should be done on what works for effective writing instruction of school-age adolescent ELLs.
  • Studies on successful strategies should include: classroom activities, including instruction, interaction, and reading and writing.
  • Writing instruction programs need to be examined against the pattern of school structures, the knowledge base of the ESL teachers and the curriculum of the program, and the knowledge base of mainstream teachers.
  • Students need to be assessed in oral and written proficiency.
  • Students' and parents attitudes on satisfaction with the writing program at their school need to be surveyed.

Fogelman, C., Harrington, M., Kenney, E., Pacheco, M., Panofsky, C., Santos, J., et al. (2005). Approaches to Writing Instruction for Adolescent English Language Learners: A Discussion of Recent Research and Practice Literature in Relation to Nationwide Standards on Writing. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University.

Bilingual Effects on Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Role of Language, Cultural Background, and Education

Author: Barac, R. & Bialystok, E.

Summary: In this study, researchers compared 104 six-year-old children belonging to 4 groups (English monolinguals, Chinese-English bilinguals, French-English bilinguals, Spanish-English bilinguals) on a series of tasks in order to determine the effect of bilingualism on development. Taking into account language, cultural background, and the language of schooling, researchers examined the outcomes of language tasks and cognitive tasks across the groups. They found that bilingualism had a positive effect on executive control tasks, but that the performance on the language task varied depending on educational experience and the similarity between the two languages.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What are the bilingual effects on development?
  • What roles do educational background, language background, and the relationship between the two languages have on development?
  • How do the effects of bilingualism on cognitive and linguistic development differ?

Barac, R. & Bialystok, E. (2012). Bilingual Effects on Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Role of Language, Cultural Background, and Education. Child Development.

Bridging the Gaps to Success: Promising Practices for Promoting Transfer Among Low-Income and First-Generation Students

Author: Smith, C.T., Miller, A., & Bermeo, C.A. The Pell Institute

Summary: With Obama’s goal of all Americans having completed high school and one year of post-secondary education by 2020 there is increased pressure on community colleges. It is vital that community colleges increase their retention and preparation of students so they can successfully transfer to a 4 year institution. This report analyzes 6 Texas schools with high transfer rates in order to better understand “the institutional characteristics, practices, and policies that might contribute to assuring that students matriculate and excel in community college and transfer to four-year institutions.”

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Tags: Intervention; Motivation; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Post-secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the promising practices for transferring students from two-year to four-year institutions?

Findings:
A Structured Academic Pathway:

  • Institutional Articulation Agreements
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Developmental coursework initiatives
  • Active learning
A Student-Centered Culture:
  • Customer service forums
  • Trio Student Support Services (SSS)
  • Specialized advising
  • Flexible scheduling
  • First-year Seminar
  • Learning communities
  • Student engagement in campus life
A Culturally-sensitive Leadership:
  • Staff and faculty role modeling
  • Strategic planning
  • Outreach

Smith, C.T., Miller, A., & Bermeo, C.A. (2009). Bridging the Gaps to Success-Promising Practices for Promoting Transfer Among Low-Income and First-Generation Students. The Pell Institute. Retrieved January 10, 2011 from: http://www.pellinstitute.org/pdf/COE_Pell_Report_layout_3.pdf

Early Education Programs and Children of Immigrants: Learning Each Other's Language

Author: Matthews, H., & Ewen, D. Urban Institute

Summary: This report is a summary of the many federal and state early education programs available to ELLs and children of immigrants.

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Tags: Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Differentiated Instruction; Language of Instruction; Phonological Awareness; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Preschool

Research Questions the Report Poses: What programs are available to the ever-growing number of children from immigrant families?

Findings:

  • Articulate a vision for providing high-quality early education to ELLs. This may be committing to reducing participation and skills gaps between ELLs and their English speaking peers, a goal of bilingualism for all prekindergarten children, or a statement of recognition of the importance of native language development.
  • Expand access to state-funded preschool programs by including ELLs in targeted groups for eligibility and targeting outreach efforts for language-minority communities. This may include contracting directly with immigrant-serving organizations to provide preschool service.
  • Create formal partnerships and collaborate with diverse organizations, including immigrant serving organizations, to conduct outreach for preschool.
  • Move beyond generalizations to create policies and implementation guidance that provide practical strategies and approaches teachers can use in classrooms. States should ensure that that the most recent research on second-language learning informs the development of policies and practices.
  • Require all prekindergarten staff-including teachers, directors, and principals-have meaningful training in second-language acquisition strategies and cultural competency to effectively work with all children and their families.
  • Require preschool providers to create language access plans. Programs should have plans in place to support the native language development of ELL children and to communicate with parents who speak languages other than English. Plans should ensure that parent information is available in accessible formats and include the use of translated materials and face-to-face communication.
  • Ensure that preschool curriculum and instruction support both English and home-language development and expand the number of dual-language programs.
  • Encourage the hiring of bilingual teachers and provide guidance to programs on appropriate roles for bilingual staff in the prekindergarten classroom. States policymakers can support the growth of a bilingual workforce by contributing to scholarship programs and providing other incentives for teachers.

Matthews, H., & Ewen, D. (2010, August). Early Education Programs and Children of Immigrants: Learning Each Other's Language. Urban Institute. Retrieved January 12, 2011 from: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412205-early-education.pdf

English Language Learners: Boosting Academic Achievement

Author: American Educational Research Association

Summary: With nearly one in twelve public school children receiving special assistance to learn English, researchers are investigating effective ways to teach English literacy and boost academic achievement for ELLs. This American Educational Research Association brief estimates that with explicit phonics instruction and frequent assessment, young ELLs can master the basics of English literacy. To sustain academic achievement, vocabulary and comprehension strategies must continue to develop in a structured, supported, and inclusive learning environment.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Comprehension; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Language Proficiency; Phonics; Phonological Awareness; Placement; Spelling; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary

Research Questions the Report Poses: In spite of the debate over bilingual versus English-only education, the fundamental question remains: What are the best ways to teach English literacy to English language learners, and what rate of achievement in English is realistic to expect?

Findings:

  • ELLs need the same kind of reading instruction that works for native speakers, more of it, and they need to be watched carefully so they get help adjusted to their language development needs as soon as they encounter problems;
  • ELL students can learn basic English reading skills in two years, but their chances of falling behind later in school are greater than native English speaking children;
  • There is no evidence that the extra teaching that ELLs need can be effectively offered in "pullout" programs that are not closely integrated with the main literacy program;
  • ELLs benefit from lengthening the school day and/or year; and
  • ELLs need teachers who can deliver reading instruction shown to be most effective, and these teachers need intensive professional development

Policy Recommendations:

  • Give English language learners extra time and instruction in literacy, either through longer school days or extended years;
  • Assign the best teachers to English learners and provide professional development in effective teaching strategies;
  • Use proven techniques for teaching basic word recognition skills, including phonics and phonological awareness;
  • Provide lots of practice reading and frequent assessments to pinpoint children's reading strengths and weaknesses;
  • Provide structured academic conversation, built around books and other subject matter activities to build vocabulary and comprehension; and
  • Provide several years of intensive, high-quality instruction to help students master the vocabulary, comprehension, and oral language skills that will make them fully fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English.

Resnick, L.B., Ed. (2004). English Language Learners: Boosting Academic Achievement. Research Points, 2(1). American Educational Research Association: Washington DC.

Ensuring Academic Success for English Learners

Author: Laurie Olson, UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute

Summary: This report, or position paper, highlights nine elements of a strong program, based on three decades of research. The report recommends best practices that include accessible preschool programs, support for newcomers of all ages, and a focus on English language development.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Comprehension; Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: The paper provides an overview of research and knowledge that educators can use to create schools in which English learners thrive and achieve at high levels.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Invest in building a qualified educator workforce;
  • Build a meaningful accountability system for English learners;
  • Assure that educators have the materials they need to deliver high quality English Language Development; and
  • Demonstrate new models of successful schools for English learners

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
University of California
Linguistic Minority Research Institute
4722 South Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3220

Olsen, L. (2006). Ensuring Academic Success for English Learners. University of California: Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

How Long Does It Take English Language Learners to Attain Proficiency?

Author: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute/ Kenji Hakuta, Yuko Goto Butler, and Daria Witt

Summary: This report compiles findings related to how long it takes English language learners to become proficient in speaking English and how long it takes them to master enough English to be successful in classrooms where all academic content is in English. The report draws on findings from four schools. Two schools are in the San Francisco Bay area and two schools are in Canada. The authors collect their own data from the California schools and rely on previous research for the Canadian schools.

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Tags: Comprehension; Language Proficiency; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How long does it take English language learners to develop oral proficiency and academic proficiency in English?

Findings:

  • Rapid English language acquisition is unrealistic.
  • The two California districts used in the sample are considered the most successful teaching English to limited English proficient students. In these high performing districts:
    • Oral proficiency takes 3 to 5 years to develop; and
    • Academic English proficiency takes 4 to 7 years to develop

Policy Recommendations:
California should begin a longitudinal survey to track the normative development of ELL students.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute University of California, Santa Barbara 4722 South Hall, MC 3220 Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3220

Hakuta, K., Butler, Y.G., and Witt, D. (2000, January). How long does it take English language learners to develop oral proficiency and academic proficiency in English? Stanford, CA: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

Integrated Vocabulary Instruction: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners in Grades K-5

Author: Camille L. Z. Blachowicz, Peter J. Fisher, Susan Watts-Taffe / Learning Point Associates

Summary: The goal of this document is to provide the information that teachers and other educators need to implement an integrated and comprehensive approach to vocabulary instruction. Integrated means that vocabulary is a core consideration in all grades across the school and in all content areas across the school day. Comprehensive means that vocabulary instruction encompasses much more than a list of words to teach at the beginning of the week. Rather, it involves a common philosophy and shared practices, based on a solid understanding the knowledge base and supported by curricular considerations as well as classroom and school organizational procedures.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Books and Other Reading Materials; Comprehension; Differentiated Instruction; Instructional Programs; Motivation; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the most effective ways to teach vocabulary to diverse learners?

Findings:
This article focuses on strategies and techniques for integrating vocabulary into the classroom. Some of the vocabulary areas covered are:

  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Compound words
  • Root words
  • Using technology to teach vocabulary

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Learning Point Associates 1100 17th Street N.W., Suite 500 Washington, DC 20036

Blachowicz, C.L.Z, Watts-Taffe, S. & Fisher, P. (2005). Learning Point Associates.

Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap

Author: K.L. Alexander, D.R.Entwisle, & L.S. Olson

Summary: "Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap" by Alexander, Entwisle, and Olson examines the long-term effect of differences in summer learning, which tend to be associated with family socioeconomic level. The researchers found that achievement during the first nine years of school is related primarily to school-year learning; however, the achievement gap between high-SES and low-SES students at 9th grade is more closely associated with differences in out-of-school summer learning during the elementary school years.

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Tags: Intervention; Motivation; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle school

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the long-term educational consequences of summer learning differences based on family socioeconomic level?

Findings:

  • Prior to high school, the achievement gap by family SES traces substantially to unequal learning opportunities in children's home and community environments.
  • With learning gains across social lines more nearly equal during the school year, the experience of schooling tends to offset the unequalizing press of children's out-of-school learning environments. Schooling thus appears to play a compensatory role, though there may still be unequal access to resources or opportunities even in school.
  • Summer learning differences during the foundational early grades help explain achievement-dependent outcome differences across social lines in the upper grades; this includes the transition out of high school and, for some, into college, which is oftentimes determined by whether a student is in on a college-prep track, which itself is determined by class placement based on freshman test performance.
  • Since it is low SES youth specifically whose out-of-school learning lags behind, this summer shortfall relative to better-off children contributes to the perpetuation of family advantage and disadvantage across generations.
  • The fact that achievement gaps are smaller during the school year than the summer shows that 2 common assumptions are false: that minority students have less ability to achieve and that school systems are failing.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Early interventions to keep the achievement gap from opening wide in the first place should be a high priority, and the earlier the better, with the kinds of preschool compensatory education initiatives that have proven effective.
  • Once in school, disadvantaged children need year-round, supplemental programming to counter the continuing press of family and community conditions that hold them back.
  • Create summer schools that incorporate so-called best practice principles that target disadvantaged students specifically.
  • An accountability system that monitors progress fall to spring, perhaps relative to an expected summer gain baseline be more appropriate for gauging a school's effectiveness. The current arrangement under NCLB is useful for identifying need, but little more, and certainly not for apportioning blame.

Alexander, K.L., Entwisle, D.R., & Olson, L.S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72. Retrieved from http://brettberk.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/april07asrfeature.pdf

Learning From Latinos: Contexts, Families, and Child Development in Motion

Author: B. Fuller, C.G. Coll; American Psychological Association.

Summary: We emphasize how psychologists, pediatric researchers, and social scientists have described or built fresh explanatory accounts regarding the social structure of and features of individuals within diverse Latino families, how parents reproduce heritage practices that offer social cohesion for children and uneven adaptation to novel contexts and organizations, and the consequences for children's social and cognitive development, including how psychologists have come to see learning as situated in particular contexts, leading to provocative questions about the situational or universal causes and mediating processes of child development.

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Tags: Latino ELL Students; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How do the structures of Latino families influence Latino children’s cognitive development?

Findings:
In short, Latino children are teaching researchers much about the situated dynamics of child development—especially the mechanisms through which particular norms, forms of participation, and requisite cognitive demands are pressed in multiple contexts. Much work remains to understand how Latino parents deploy heritage and novel practices to advance child development, and how their activities and practices differentially shape cognitive and social– emotional vitality. We are just beginning to learn how the multiple contexts of children and adolescents vary across Latino subgroups and how they rival or reinforce the family’s influence. Ideally, researchers could capture the processes occurring inside the home—providing children with beneficial cognitive tools and engaging solidarity—and then observe how children carry these into other settings, like schools and peer groups. Some institutions, especially schools, often fail to recognize the social assets with which Latino children arrive, from respect for adults and vibrant social skills to serving their family by getting ahead in school.

Fuller, B., & Coll, C.G. (2010). Learning From Latinos: Contexts, Families, and Child Development in Motion. American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 14, 2011 from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/dev-46-3-559.pdf

Measures of Change: The Demography and Literacy of Adolescent English Learners

Author: Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and Julie Murray / Migration Policy Institute

Summary: This report from the Migration Policy Institute examines the increasing population of ELLs. It does this by examining the ELL population and developing a profile of ELL students, examining literacy achievement on both national and state math and reading assessments, and examining state identification, testing, and accommodation policies in the following states: California, Illinois, Colorado, and North Carolina.

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Tags: Language Proficiency; Latino ELL Students; Motivation; Reading; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Who are immigrant students and students who do not speak English well?
  • Where are they from, and what is their family background (social, economic, linguistic, etc.)?
  • How well do they do in school?
  • Do their literacy levels prepare them to take part in higher education and a skilled workforce?"

Findings:

  • ELL populations are growing faster than general student populations
  • The growth of ELL populations in different states varies widely
  • Students in California are more likely to be "linguistically isolated" than students across the country or in the other three states studied
  • 57% of ELLs across the country were born in the United States
  • 70% of ELLs in grades 6-12 speak Spanish
  • NAEP data examined for 8th grade ELLs shows that only 4% and 6% of ELLs scored proficient in reading and math, respectively
  • ELLs performed radically different on state math and reading assessments from state to state
  • There is a wide achievement gap between ELL and non-ELL students on the 8th grade NAEP as well as state standardized tests
  • Former ELL students and non-ELL students scored roughly the same on NAEP and state assessments

Policy Recommendations:

  • "Reexamine whether Census data accurately capture the [ELL] population"
  • "Examine how varying state exclusion rates for ELL students affect NAEP results"
  • "Explore the literacy trajectories of former [ELL] students"
  • "Document how states vary in their testing and monitoring practices for ELL students who parents opt out of language instruction services"
  • "Leverage the research opportunities that multi-state English proficiency tests offer for analyzing ELL outcomes"

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/index.php

Batalova, J., Fix, M., and Murray, J. (2007). Measures of Change: The Demography and Literacy of Adolescent English Learners. Migration Policy Institute, Carnegie Corporation of New York: New York, NY.

Meeting the Literacy Development Needs of Adolescent English Language Learners Through Content Area Learning: Focus on Classroom Teaching and Learning Strategies (Part II)

Author: Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (LAB), The Education Alliance at Brown University, Julie Meltzer and Edmund Hamann

Summary: As with part one of this publication, part two amounts to a literature review. Part two looks for congruous instructional practices that are good for secondary ELL and native English speakers alike. The article shifts through a series of discussions about a variety of domains related to teaching and arrives at a conclusion in support of strategies beneficial to ELL students and native English language students.

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Tags: Content Areas: Math; Content Areas: Science; Content Areas: Social Studies; Differentiated Instruction; Intervention; Motivation; Placement; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What instructional practices dovetail in both the ELL adolescent literacy literature and non-ELL adolescent literacy literature?

Findings:
Eight instructional approaches are supported in both literatures (what's good for ELL adolescents and adolescent native English speakers):

  1. teacher modeling, strategy instruction, and using multiple forms of assessment;
  2. emphasis on reading and writing;
  3. emphasis on speaking and listening/viewing;
  4. emphasis on thinking;
  5. creating a learner-centered classroom;
  6. recognizing and analyzing content-area discourse features;
  7. understanding text structures within the content areas; and
  8. vocabulary development.

Policy Recommendations:
Any intervention aimed at ELLs should also benefit under–served learners generally.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The Education Alliance at Brown
222 Richmond Street, Suite 300
Providence, RI 02903-4226
Phone: 800.521.9550
Fax: 401.421.7650
E-mail: info@alliance.brown.edu

Meltzer, J. & Hamann, E. (2004). Meeting the literacy development needs of adolescent English language learners. Part two: Focus on classroom teaching and learning strategies. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory .

Meeting the Literacy Development Needs of Adolescent English Language Learners Through Content Area Learning: Part One: Focus on Motivation and Engagement

Author: Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (LAB), The Education Alliance at Brown University, Julie Meltzer and Edmund Hamann

Summary: This article reviews the major research findings as they relate to engagement and motivation of ELL adolescents. The highlighted research is meant to explore the confluence of two areas of study — literacy development and schooling practices for ELLs and native English speakers — and serve as a guide for professional development for secondary teachers. The literature review explores school and classroom contexts; instructional principles like relevance, choice, and student-centered classrooms; and instructional practices like scaffolding and activating prior knowledge as they relate to adolescent ELLs.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Content Areas: Math; Content Areas: Science; Content Areas: Social Studies; Motivation; Placement; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: Review of the literature concerning student motivation and engagement on literacy development of adolescents and research on the schooling of adolescent ELLs.

Findings:

  • literacy development and effective instruction for ELL and non-ELL adolescents alike share many commonalities;
  • isolated ELL students are further negatively impacted as a result of these findings; and
  • content-area teachers may benefit from research and practices designed for ELL teachers
"

Policy Recommendations:

  • Teachers should use current secondary school ELL literature to create a blueprint of classroom contexts in which ELLs will be motivated and engaged to read and write across the content areas, and where reading and writing will contribute to their broader academic achievement.
  • Schools should train all secondary–school teachers to promote content–area literacy for ELLs.
  • To promote ELLs' or other students' continued development and application of literacy skills for academic learning, educators should plan opportunities that
    1. provide the environmental resources to support the work (i.e., various text materials);
    2. are grounded by high expectations that students can achieve or surpass the state standards and
    3. engage students-that they involve choice, are authentic, promote self–efficacy, and support autonomy.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The Education Alliance at Brown
222 Richmond Street, Suite 300
Providence, RI 02903-4226
Phone: 800.521.9550
Fax: 401.421.7650
E-mail: info@alliance.brown.edu

Meltzer, J. & Hamann, E. (2004). Meeting the literacy development needs of adolescent English language learners. Part one: Focus on motivation and engagement. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory.

National Literacy Panel's Executive Summary

Summary: In 2002, the U.S. Department of Education charged a panel of experts, chaired by Timothy Shanahan, with reviewing and compiling research on literacy attainment for language-minority students. The panel's report, Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners, identifies factors that support literacy development of language minority students in the classroom. It also discusses various findings on parent involvement and home literacy experiences and offers suggestions for reducing the over-representation of English language learners in special education.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Comprehension; Latino ELL Students; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

August, D. and Shanahan, T. (2006). Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Center for Applied Linguistics, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Mahwah, NJ.

Para nuestros niños: Expanding and Improving Early Education for Hispanics

Author: National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics

Summary: This report details how increased participation in pre-K programs would benefit ELL students, especially Hispanic ELLs. It has an extensive set of recommendations for a number of different types of policymakers. The report also contains a demographic profile of young Hispanic children, a report on Hispanic educational performance patterns, and some strategies to accelerate progress for ELLs.

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Tags: Instructional Programs; Latino ELL Students; Phonics; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Preschool

Research Questions the Report Poses: What steps can be taken to increase access to pre-K and early childhood programs for ELLs, particularly Hispanic ELLs?

Findings:

  • Hispanic students have been achieving more and more over the past three generations.
  • o Hispanic students born in the US do better on achievement tests than immigrant Hispanic children
  • Hispanic students are still overrepresented among low-achieving students.
  • Achievement among Hispanic students varies widely according to country of origin. South Americans and Cubans perform almost as well as White and Asian students, while Mexican-American students are far below White achievement levels
  • High quality infant/toddler programs, pre-K programs, and K-3 schooling can contribute to meaningfully higher levels of school readiness and school achievement among low SES students, including low SES Hispanics.
  • R&D is needed to provide better early childhood education for Hispanics. This includes developing and testing new programs, methods, and approaches that are tailored to fit the needs of Hispanic students.

Policy Recommendations:
Recommends that State Governments:

  • Expand and increase infant/toddler programs in their states that serve or could potentially serve large numbers of Hispanic families.
  • Continue to expand state-funded pre-K initiatives in an effort to have voluntary universal pre-K systems in most states within 10-20 years.
  • Increase efforts to disseminate information to Hispanic parents about available pre-K programs.
  • Increase funding for voluntary multi-year summer programs for students with low SES.
  • Create programs to draw more ELL and bilingual educators.
  • Increase pay and benefit levels for pre-K teachers and administrators so that they are equal to their public school counterparts.
Recommends that the federal government:
  • Expand the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
  • Invest resources to designing, testing, and evaluating pre-K and K-3 language and literacy development strategies.
  • Fund program testing that will yield more bilingual and ELL teachers.
  • Create assessments for ELLs at the pre-K level in both Engish and Spanish.
  • Increase longitudinal studies on Hispanics and other groups who achieve below US norms.
  • Increase US participation in international assessments.
Recommends for private foundations:
  • Fund long-term efforts to design, test, and evaluate pre-K and K-3 language and literacy development strategies for Hispanics from all SES levels and from immigrant/nonimmigrant families.
  • Create foundations that can help provide the above funding.
Recommends that Hispanic organizations:
  • Create recommendations for new approaches to infant/toddler, pre-K, and K-3 programs for Hispanic students.
  • Create proposals on how state governments can increase their ELL/bilingual educators.
  • Create literacy development information, materials, and other parental supports.

Para nuestros niños: Expanding and Improving Early Education for Hispanics. (2007). National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics.

Reparable Harm: Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Educational Opportunity for California's Long Term English Learners.

Author: L. Olsen. Californians Together.

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Tags: Fluency; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Placement; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Secondary, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: Which of the English learners are left behind? What steps can be taken to prevent this?

Findings:

  • The majority (59%) of secondary school English Learners are "Long Term English Learners" (in United States schools for more than six years without reaching sufficient English proficiency to be reclassified). In one out of three districts, more than 75% of their English Learners are Long Term.
  • California school districts do not have a shared definition of "Long Term English Learners." Most districts lack any definition or means of identifying or monitoring the progress and achievement of this population. Only one in four districts has a formal definition or designation for identifying, counting, serving or monitoring services for these students - and their definitions vary in the number of years considered "normative" for how soon English Learners should have reached proficiency (range from five to ten years).
  • English Learners become "Long Term" English Learners in the course of their schooling experience. Several factors seem to contribute to becoming a Long Term English Learner: receiving no language development program at all; being given elementary school curricula and materials that weren't designed to meet English Learner needs; enrollment in weak language development program models and poorly implemented English Learner programs; histories of inconsistent programs; provision of narrowed curricula and only partial access to the full curriculum; social segregation and linguistic isolation; and, cycles of transnational moves.
  • By the time Long Term English Learners arrive in secondary schools, there is a set of characteristics that describe their overall profile. These students struggle academically. They have distinct language issues, including: high functioning social language, very weak academic language, and significant deficits in reading and writing skills. The majority of Long Term English Learners are "stuck" at Intermediate levels of English proficiency or below, although others reach higher levels of English proficiency without attaining the academic language to be reclassified. Long Term English Learners have significant gaps in academic background knowledge. In addition, many have developed habits of non-engagement, learned passivity and invisibility in school. The majority of Long Term English Learners wants to go to college, and are unaware that their academic skills, record and courses are not preparing them to reach that goal. Neither students, their parents nor their community realizes that they are in academic jeopardy.

Olsen, L. (2010). Reparable Harm: Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Educational Opportunity for California's Long Term English Learners. Californians Together. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from: http://www.californianstogether.org/

Students with Interrupted Education: A Challenge for New York City Public Schools

Author: Advocates for Children of New York

Summary: Within ELLs there is a sub-population known as SIFEs. These students face extensive challenges once they enter schools. With SIFEs making up a significant portion New York City’s Public Schools already-struggling ELL population, new strategies are needed in order to ensure to success of those students.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Differentiated Instruction; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Placement; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How accommodated are Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFEs) in NYC public schools? Why SIFEs are struggling academically and what are can be done to improve it?

Findings:

  • SIFEs often have poor literary skills in any language, and are likely behind their age level in knowledge-content.
  • SIFEs have complex social and psychological needs due to multiple factors including migration, unfamiliarity with surroundings, etc.
  • SIFEs need more English language support, and often more individualized instruction to make progress.
  • SIFEs lack foundational skills for academic work in English and in most cases their native language.
  • Many SIFEs are not steered towards programs that can help them, and the schools they are placed in don't have the resources to teach them properly.
  • Many SIFEs as often classified as having disabilities when cases show that this is typically not the case.

Students with Interrupted Education: A Challenge for New York City Public Schools. (2010, May). Advocates for Children of New York. Retrieved July 28, 2010 from http://advocatesforchildren.org/SIFE%20Paper%20final.pdf

Teaching English Language Learners: What the Research Does — and Does Not — Say

Author: Claude Goldenberg

Summary: This thorough review offers a comprehensive summary of existing research on issues related to the education of ELLs. Dr. Claude Goldenberg focuses on two major reviews of research, one by the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, and the other by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE). Topics covered include: bilingual education, oral language development, reading instruction, curriculum, instructional methods, assessment, and accommodations.

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Tags: Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Comprehension; Differentiated Instruction; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Phonological Awareness; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What is the state of our knowledge regarding policies and practices of instruction of ELLs-what do we know and what remains unanswered?
  • From the current body of research, what conclusions can we make about effective policies and practices?

Findings:

  • Most ELLs actually were born in the U.S., though most of their parents were born elsewhere.
  • By far, the majority of ELLs-80 percent-are Spanish speakers. This is an important fact to bear in mind, since Spanish speakers in the U.S. tend to come from lower economic and educational backgrounds than either the general population or other immigrants populations. Consequently, most ELLs are at risk for poor school outcomes not only because of language, but also because of socioeconomic factors.
  • A majority of ELLs (60%) are in essentially all-English instruction. Of these 12% receive no additional support or services, 50% receive some "LEP services" (Limited English Proficient), and 40% receive some instruction incorporating native language.
  • Teaching students to read in their first language promotes higher levels of reading achievement in English, probably due to "knowledge transfer" across languages, though it is not automatic.
  • What we know about good instruction and curriculum in general holds true for ELL s., ie benefits of explicit instruction of phonics, writing, and comprehension; contextual explanation of vocabulary; cooperative learning; interactive teaching.
  • Effects of "culturally-accommodated instruction" are uncertain.

Policy Recommendations:
Instructional modification for ELLs:

  • Make English texts accessible by choosing familiar content.
  • Build vocabulary in English.
  • Use the primary language for support.
  • Support ELLs in English-only settings also.
  • Assess knowledge and language proficiency separately.
  • Add time for ELLs to learn (extended day, after school, extended year, summer school, extra years to earn a diploma).
  • Promote productive interaction between ELLs and English speakers.

Goldenberg, C. (2008). Teaching English language learners: what the research does&mdash and does not&mdash say. American Educator, Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/summer2008/goldenberg.pdf

Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners

Author: What Works Clearinghouse; U.S. Department of Education

Summary: "Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners" discusses the importance of teaching English learners to read in English while they are developing oral proficiency, and how this helps them increase vocabulary, speak in English, and learn other subject-matter content. Specifically, it recommends and explains successful practices in 5 different areas based on solid research: assessment, small-group instruction, vocabulary instruction, academic English development, and cooperative learning.

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Tags: Comprehension; Instructional Programs; Language Proficiency; Reading; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the best methods to teach literacy to elementary school English language learners?

Findings:

  • English learners can learn to how to read in English at about the same rate as native speakers. This was not known five or ten years ago.
  • English language development and comprehension needs to be improved, by introducing academic English as early as kindergarten or pre-K.
  • The importance of richer vocabulary instruction than most that found in conventional reading books is critical.
  • It is very productive for kids to work with their peers, and with a structured procedure, as early as kindergarten, working in groups of either two or four, assuring they know what to do.
  • The most effective professional development is for grade-level teams to meet in small groups, discuss articles, and immediate determine how they apply to their own schools and programs specifically.
  • The approach suggested here appears to work with all current models about language instruction.
  • There is no need to delay beginning reading instruction, as long as the instruction reflects current research findings.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Conduct formative assessments to screen for reading problems and monitor progress.
  • Provide intensive, small group reading interventions for English learners at risk for reading problems.
  • Provide extensive and varied vocabulary instruction throughout the day.
  • Develop academic English competence beginning in the primary grades.
  • Schedule regular peer-assisted learning opportunities, including structured language practice.

Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners. U.S. Department of Education: Doing What Works. Washington, D.C.

The Teacher's Guide to Diversity: Building a Knowledge Base

Author: Elise Trumbull and Maria Pacheco. The Education Alliance at Brown University. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (LAB).

Summary: The Teacher's Guide to Diversity: Building a Knowledge Base (Trumbull, Pacheco, 2005), published by The Education Alliance at Brown University, offers a wealth of information about multicultural influences on human development, culture, cognition, and language. This two-volume set, which is downloadable as a pdf file, covers such topics as: challenging cultural assumptions about parental involvement in school, supporting students' ethnic and academic identity in school, cultural differences in communication style and language use, and factors that influence second-language acquisition in children. (Volume I: Human Development, Culture, and Cognition; Volume II: Language) Also included is a separate presenter's manual with activities for each unit in the two volumes, which makes this publication easy to use for workshops and professional development.

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Tags: Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Fluency; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Phonics; Phonological Awareness; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

VOLUME I:

  • What are the reigning theories of human development, cognition, culture, and the relationship between them?
  • How does identity development intersect with achievement motivation?
  • What is intelligence?
  • How can our knowledge of human development inform our work as educators working with an increasingly diverse student population?
  • What is known about how to work successfully with families from non-dominant cultural groups?

VOLUME II:

  • What is language proficiency and how does it interact with culture, human development, learning, and schooling?
  • How can teachers best support English language learners (ELLs) and speakers of different English dialects?
  • What are the current views of literacy acquisition and best approaches to literacy instruction?
  • How can assessments eliminate bias based on language?

Findings:

  • Most important to the process of addressing the needs of learners from a wide range of backgrounds is a positive, ongoing process of exploration and constructive conversation among the professionals who serve such students and between professionals and students' families.
  • Meaningful approaches to human development and learning have become increasingly multi-disciplinary.
  • Language indexes culture; language symbolizes culture; culture is partially created by language.

Policy Recommendations:
Teacher's Guide to Diversity includes a third volume, "The Presenter's Manual," which provides support for preparing for and conducting classes or workshops. The manual contains activities and suggested homework assignments, organized by the volume with which they are associated.

Trumbull, E., Pacheco, M. (2005). The Teacher’s Guide to Diversity: Building a Knowledge Base. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University. Retrieved from http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/teach_guide_diversity/.

Vocabulary: The Key to Teaching English Language Learners to Read

Author: Christopher Wallace

Summary: In this article, Christopher Wallace reviews current research on vocabulary instruction for ELLs. The article gives evidence for the importance of strong vocabulary skills in learning to read in a second language and includes recommendations for putting research into practice in the mainstream classroom.

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Tags: Language Proficiency; Reading; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • How does English vocabulary enrichment intervention (combining direct word instruction with word-learning strategies) impact the outcomes of ELLs and non-ELLs?
  • Do improved vocabulary and word analysis skills produce improved reading comprehension outcomes?

Findings:

  • Word knowledge and reading comprehension, by both ELLs and non-ELLs, could be improved by: a challenging curriculum which focused on teaching academic words, awareness of polysemy, strategies for inferring word meaning from context, and tools for analyzing morphological and cross-linguistic aspects of word meaning.
  • There is a strong significant connection between vocabulary knowledge, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension.
  • Overall, the depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge measures explained a considerable portion of the variance in reading comprehension scores, both of which are powerful predictors of reading performance.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Teachers should emphasize vocabulary instruction to their ELL students in order to enhance their overall English proficiency skills.

Wallace, C. (2007) "Vocabulary: the key to teaching English language learners to read". Reading Improvement. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6516/is_4_44/ai_n29414045/.

What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners?

Author: S. Irujo, The ELL Outlook

Summary: In this article, Suzanne Irujo discusses the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth in the context of her own experience as an ELL teacher. Irujo organizes her discussion around the five essential components of reading instruction identified by the National Reading Panel (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) and offers specific recommendations for enhancing ELL reading instruction in each of those areas.

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Tags: Comprehension; Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Phonics; Phonological Awareness; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What does research tell us about teaching reading to English Language Learners?

Findings:

  • Literacy in the native language is an advantage.
  • ELLs cannot develop phonological awareness in English until they are familiar with the sounds of English; once phonological awareness has developed in any language, it transfers to other languages that are learned.
  • Systematic phonics instruction can be very effective in helping ELLs learn to decode words: the most effective reading programs for ELLs combine systematic phonics instruction with a print-rich environment that provides exposure to appealing reading materials in varied genres.
  • ELLs cannot achieve fluency in oral reading before they have achieved fluency in speaking: self-consciousness about accents and errors can affect reading fluency.
  • ELLs need more vocabulary instruction than their native-speaking peers, with different vocabulary words and vocabulary teaching techniques.
  • ELLs are more likely than native speakers to lack the background knowledge necessary for understanding texts

Policy Recommendations:

  • Substantial coverage of the five essential elements of reading instruction-phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension-helps.
  • Reading programs for ELLs should include intensive language development as well as instruction in literacy strategies and skills.
  • Instruction needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of ELLs.

Irujo, S. (2007). What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners? Haverhill, MA: The ELL Outlook.