In our schools there are an increasing number of English language learners represented for whom a unique approach is needed to develop literacy. The development of English-speaking learners’ literacy (ELLs) includes all the challenges implied by English-speaking children’s literacy achievements and is further compounded by a diversity of linguistic , cognitive and academic variables. College of English Language of Los Angeles offers excellent info on this.
The following are typically important variables which need to be addressed in successful reading instruction:
Phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency reading including oral reading skills, and strategies for understanding reading. Recently , the National Research Council’s Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children completed the most authoritative, comprehensive review of research on the development and instruction of normal reading and on preventing difficulty reading in young children1. This research recorded a variety of significant observations on teaching English literacy to children with minority languages. Including:
— English-speaking children who make initial attempts to learn recognize, whether they excel, the results of their efforts; they interpret the phrases they know and the sentences they recognize, and … they will easily correct themselves. Non-English speakers have a more limited basis for knowing whether their reading is correct, because lack of language knowledge makes the crucial process of making meanings short-circuited.
— Providing an initial reading lesson to a child in a language that he or she has not yet learned will weaken the child’s likelihood of using literacy as a effective means of communication by removing the context out from under the learning cycle.
— Initial first-language reading instruction does no harm. On the opposite, it appears probable from both empirical results and hypotheses regarding the growth of literacy that initial second language reading training may have adverse implications for immediate and long-term achievement. Literacy of primary language and literacy is important, and should be highly promoted.
It was highly recommended that “initial literacy instruction in the native language of a child wherever possible” and suggested that “literacy instruction should not be introduced in any language before a reasonable level of oral competence has been achieved in that language.”
The committee recommended the following guidelines on the question of which language to use when teaching English language learners to read:
— When minority language children arrive at school with no English knowledge but speak a language for which teaching manuals, learning resources and qualified teachers are accessible locally, then these children will be taught how to read in their native language while developing skills in spoken English.
— If these second language children arrive at school with no English skills but speak a language for which the above-mentioned requirements can not be fulfilled and for which there is inadequate number of children to warrant the growth of the local population in order to meet certain criteria, the educational goal will be to improve the skills of the children in spoken English. Although print resources can be used to improve comprehension of English speech sounds, vocabulary, and syntax, it is reasonable to delay structured reading training before an sufficient degree of competence in spoken English is reached. To put it another way, the instructional priority must be to develop spoken oral English before trying to facilitate reading in English.