The Gradual Exit Plan's Grounding in Theory and Research 77
Modifications Consistent with Local Contexts 77
Appendix C 79
Reading-Related Programs That Influence the 79
Reading Achievement of English-Language Learners 79
Reading Recovery 79
Success for All 81
Learning to read is a very complex developmental process that begins at birth. It is also a process that presents many challenges to young learners. For English-language learners (ELLs) who are learning to read in English, the process presents additional challenges because the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of these learners are different from the language and culture embedded in the reading process. Nevertheless, because the ability to read is necessary for social and economic advancement in our society, it is essential that ELLs in U.S. public schools successfully meet these challenges. Hence, it is imperative that educators and policy makers are informed as to what current research suggests are the best methods for helping these ELLs do so.
This document was created as a resource for educators and policy makers on this issue, providing a synthesis of the research on teaching and learning to read in English as it relates to students in U.S. public schools who speak little or no English.1 Focusing our attention on children of primary acquisition age,2 this research summary addresses the following questions:
What are the prerequisites that children need to meet in order to become proficient readers in English as a second language?
If ELLs are experiencing difficulties reading in English, is it a language problem or a reading problem?
What are the school, program and classroom characteristics that support the reading development of ELLs?
In answering the questions listed above, this document incorporates a substantial portion of the theory on early reading development presented in Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998), an extensive research summary produced by the National Research Council. This document also incorporates much of the information provided in Educating Language Minority Students (August & Hakuta, 1997), a synthesis of research on educational issues pertaining to linguistically diverse students. Also produced by the National Research Council, Educating Language Minority Students served as the foundation for this document's summaries of the research on second-language learning, and the school, program and classroom characteristics that support the reading development of ELLs.
This document contains three chapters and three appendices. In Chapter One we discuss the theories and different aspects of the language acquisition process. Classroom practitioners need to create optimal conditions for the second-language acquisition process to take place because proficiency in the English language is the fundamental prerequisite for learning how to read in English. Language is text and text is learning. In this chapter we also discuss the influence of a number of individual learner characteristics on the process of second-language acquisition.
In Chapter Two we discuss the primary challenges that ELLs face in learning to read in English and the skills and abilities that these students must develop in order to be successfully in initial English-reading instruction. Also discussed are the most effective ways for educators to support the process that ELLs must undergo in order to learn to read in English and to continue their schooling in academic subject areas.
In Chapter Three we summarize the research on the relative effectiveness of various program models for the education of ELLs (e.g., early-exit bilingual education). We also provide an overview of those school- and classroom-level factors that have been shown to be effective in supporting the academic achievement of language minority students.
In Appendix A we provide a brief overview of the types of special programs Washington State operates in order to meet the needs of ELLs in the State's public schools. In Appendix B we provide a framework for the development of an effective educational program for ELLs in terms of the language used for instruction. In Appendix C we summarize the published research on the degree to which widely used reading-related programs in Washington State's public schools are effective with ELLs.