ELL Students and Dyslexia
presented at
ORBIDA 2008 Annual Conference
“Literacy Across the Spectrum
Julie Esparza Brown
Portland State University
Read This…
a as in
o as in
o as in
gh ough phth eigh tte eau
p as in
t as in
t as in
What is the word?
How did you approach the
• Did you:
– Struggle to figure out what sounds the
letters said?
– Feel that you should be able to read it but
just couldn’t?
– Give up?
• These are the frustrations and emotions that
individuals with dyslexia experience every
time they look at written language.
Confusion for ELLs
• Now consider the ELL student who
must figure out that the following
words are all pronounced differently:
– Meat
– Great
– Threat
• Or that “great” and “straight” rhyme.
• Or, that “sure” and “shot” have the
same onset.
The Context…
• Out of every classroom of 30 students
– 6 are poor and beset by multiple
socioeconomic problems
– 10 are ethnic or racial minority
– 6 are language minority students
• 4 ELL
• 2 immigrant
• 4 Spanish-speaking
• 1 speak an Asian language
• 1 speaks one of more than 100 other
Language Acquisition
• All language is acquired in stages and all
children go through more or less the same
stages at more of less the same time.
• It is not acquired through simple imitation.
• Rather, the child infers a system of rules.
• This supports the hypothesis that human
beings are genetically programmed to
acquire language.
• Language is not a function of intelligence or
intellectual abilities.
Two Aspects of Language
Basic Interpersonal Communication
Skills (BICS)
• Language proficiency needed in order to function
in everyday interpersonal contexts:
– Greetings, words of courtesy
– Numbers/calculations
– Playground conversation
• Communication used in daily routines
• Communicative capacity all normal children
acquire which reaches a plateau soon after child
enters school
• Not related to academic achievement
• Universal across all native speakers
• Typically attained after two-three years in host
Cognitive Academic Language
Proficiency (CALP)
• Language needed for literacy and academic
• Language required for:
– Solving mathematical word problems
– Reading academic texts
– Taking tests
– Writing exposition on a topic one has read about
• CALP in L1 and L2 overlap, in spite of important
differences in the “surface features” of each
• Typically attained between five to seven years in
host country but up to twelve years when native
language is not used for instruction
Preproduction Stage (No BICS)
This stage is sometimes called the silent period
because students are likely to be quiet listeners for
much of this period. The student is dependent upon
modeling, visual aides, and contextual clues to
obtain and convey meaning. Research indicates it
is at least four times more efficient to teach for
comprehension rather than production at this
– Students communicate with gestures and actions
(communicate their comprehension nonverbally)
– Students can follow basic instruction and grasp main ideas
by focusing on key words
– Teacher utilizes Total Physical Response (TPR)
– Focus is on listening comprehension and building
receptive vocabulary
Early Production (Early BICS)
Students begin to produce words and short phrases in
response to comprehensible (understandable)
input. Students will understand approximately four
times the amount of language they can produce.
Difficulties with syntax and grammar will be evident.
– Common nouns, verbs and adjectives emerge first
– Vocabulary must be learned in context of themes, stories,
or personal lives of students
– Activities should be designed to motivate students to
produce vocabulary which they already understand
Speech Emergence
(Intermediate BICS)
Students have now acquired a limited
vocabulary and can respond to literal
questions which have been made
comprehensible. Students use simple
phrases and sentences and will continue to
have difficulty with syntax and grammar.
– Errors of omission are common
– Lessons should continue to expand receptive
vocabulary through comprehensible input and
encourage higher level of language use
Intermediate Fluency Stage (advanced
BICS/emerging CALP)
Students continue to develop excellent
comprehension and are beginning to function in
normal conversation. However, they continue to
lack the sufficient academic language to compete
with native English speakers. Their speech will still
contain some grammatical errors.
– Students should be presented with opportunities to
produce responses that require creativity, critical thinking
skills and complex sentence structures
– Students actively initiate and engage in communication
with fluency
– Literacy skills and academic language are continuing to
The Big Picture
Early Production
Speech Emergence
Hands-on instruction
Emergent readers
Emergent writers
Predictable books
Everyday communication
Playground conversation
Contextualized, concrete
Two to three years to attain
Intermediate Fluency
Advanced Fluency
Academic language
Decontextualized, abstract
Literacy Skills
Three to ten (or more) to attain
Standardized tests
Content areas
State assessments
Three More Language Concepts
Primary Language (L1)
Dominant Language
Language Proficiency
Primary Language
• The language:
– that the student learns first and uses most
frequently in the early stages of language
– of the home, used to make and establish
meaningful communicative relationships
with their family members
– Best determined through home language
surveys and carefully conducted parent
Dominant Language
• The language that:
– the student speaks most fluently
– the child prefers to speak when given the
– can be situational in nature. For example,
a child schooled only in English will
ultimately become dominant in English
academic language.
– may remain dominant in other social
situations such as church or community
Language Proficiency
• The student’s level of skill or amount of
control in use of a particular language
• Defined as the ability to “effectively
communicate or understand thoughts or
ideas through the language’s grammatical
system and its vocabulary, using its sounds or
written symbols”
• Full proficiency in L1 contributes to the
development of the L2
• Language proficiency is not a static state
but rather a constant state of fluctuation.
Opportunities to Develop
• Many ELL students have immigrated to the U.S. or
are children of immigrants.
• Therefore, many ELL students’ families qualify for
free and reduced lunch and are economically
• While these families possess many other resources,
language opportunities in L1 (as well as L2) may be
• Research (Hart & Risley, 1995) has shown that
socioeconomic status significantly impacts
children’s L1 language development.
Normal Second Language
Processes – NOT Disorders
• Language loss when the students’
opportunities in L1 are minimized
• Language test scores similar to those of
children with language disorders
• Dysfluencies associated with lack of
vocabulary, word finding difficulties,
sequencing of ideas, and tension
surrounding expressive attempts
• Code-switching is a natural stage in second
language acquisition
Normal Second Language
Processes – NOT Disorders
• It is not possible for a bilingual child to have
a language disorder in L2 and not in L1.
• A disorder may exist if language is atypical
when student is compared with peers from
same group, who speak the same dialect
and have had similar language
Language Delays
• Sometimes, dyslexic ELL students are
not referred for assessment because it
is thought that their difficulties stem
from trying to learning a second
language and trying to learn in that
second language.
• This may delay the delivery of
appropriate interventions.
The Importance of the First
• If ELL students are strong in their first
language (L1), then expect their linguistic
strengths to transfer to the language of the
• If an ELL student experiences fluency and
phonemic awareness/phonological
decoding difficulties in L1, then there may
be a learning disability or dyslexia and the
students should be assessed in their first
Common Underlying Proficiency
or CUP (Cummins)
• A study conducted by Leafstedt and
Gerber (2005) suggests that
phonological processes are crosslinguistic processes
• Therefore, instruction and/or
measurement in L1 provides
information regarding performance in
Comprehensible Input
• What is Comprehensible Input?
– It is meaningful language that is available to students and
is therefore useful in developing their proficiency.
Language that can be understood from context.
• What is Input + 1?
– It is language to which children are exposed that contains
some structures a little beyond what they are able to
understand in the second language.
• Why is it important to use authentic language in
– Children cannot acquire language skills that are divorced
from context of meaning and use. Use “whole” texts (e.g.,
stories, books).
Comprehensible Input
• Use simplified codes:
• Articulate clearly
• Increase volume on key words
• Exaggerate intonation
• Use fewer idioms and less slang
• Use high frequency vocabulary
• Use personalized language and nouns (reduce pronouns)Use
non-linguistic cues:
• Gestures
• Facial expressions
• Body language
• Pantomine
• Use manipulatives, realia, visuals:
• Videos
• Pictures, photos, drawings
• Real objects
• Hands-on activities
• Use prior content introduction in the primary language:
• “Preview, view, review”
Brain Research
• We need to remember that an ELL child is
not merely coping with the challenges of
learning to read English, but is also at a fairly
early stage in developing a bilingual brain
circuitry to spoken language.
• Studies have reported overlapping systems
for the spoken forms of L1 and L2 in fluent
bilinguals, but the degree of overlap
appears to depend heavily upon factors
such as age of acquisition, degree of
proficiency in L1 and L2.
Brain Research
• Highly proficient speakers of L2 show greater
integration of L1 and L2 in the brain than less
proficient speakers.
• Thus, spoken language proficiency in L2, by
virtue of its effects on brain organization for
speech, might impact the ways in which
reading circuits develop as literacy skills as
taught (Kim et al., 1997;, Klein, Milner,
Zatoree, Meyer, & Evans, 1995; Perani et al.,
• Do you think there are equal
percentages of individuals with
dyslexia in transparent and opaque
• Why or why not?
• The incidence of severe reading
disabilities is around 5 percent in all
alphabetic languages while the
prevalence across languages
depends upon the transparency of the
orthography (Snowling, 2000).
What are Transparent and
Opaque Phonologies?
• Transparent: phonologically regular
– Finnish
– German
– Spanish
• Opaque: phonologically less regular
– English
Spanish Phonology
• Spanish has clear syllables.
• It also has a small inventory of syllables with only 19
• There is nearly 1:1 correspondence between letters
and sounds with five exceptions:
• Therefore, Spanish-speaking children master the
alphabetic principle and develop spelling skills
relatively early compared to English speakers.
• New brain imaging techniques show that
the brains of dyslexic people process
language differently.
• Phonological weaknesses make it hard for
students to deal with an alphabetic script
• Research also suggests that rapid
automatized naming (RAN) seems to be a
main characteristic of children with RD
(Korhonen, 1995; Novoa & Wolf, 1984.
• It was found that in both German and Dutch (both
transparent languages) naming speed was a robust
predictor of reading performance (Frith, Wimmer, &
Landerl, 1998; de Jong & van der Leijk, 2003)
• Spanish-speaking children with RD also had difficulty
in reading fluency and orthography.
• It appears that in transparent languages
phonological skills are a key predictor of reading.
• The second key predictor in transparent languages
is RAN.
Research Across Languages
• Studies demonstrate that normally
progressing preschool children demonstrate
– Phonological awareness of sylables
– Onsets
– Rimes
• Around the ages of 3-4
– Syllable awareness
• Around the ages of 4-5
– Onset-time awareness
– Phoneme awareness only develops once
children are taught to read and write.
What is Needed to Read in
Any Language
• The first step in becoming literate are the
acquisition of the system for mapping
between sound and symbol.
• Mastery of this system allows children to
access the thousands of words already
present in their spoken lexicon.
• The process of learning and applying these
mappings has been called phonological
Phonological Recoding Deficits
• Ziegler & Goswami (2005) found in their
review that deficits in phonological
recording underlie reading disabilities in all
alphabetic languages.
• Thus, children learning to read in
transparent languages may master the
process of mapping print to sound and
sound to print more quickly than children
learning to read in English (or another
language with opaque orthography).
The Importance of Phonological
• Many studies show a language-universal
sequence in the development of
phonological awareness (Cicero and Royer,
1995; Durgunoglu and Oney, 1999; Goswami
and East, 2000).
• Goswami (2001) notes, “…there is a causal
connection between a child’s phonological
awareness and his or her reading and
spelling development” (p. 141).
Characteristics of Spanishspeakers with RD
• Findings by Jimenez and Ramiez
(2002)with native Spanish readers
reinforce the hypothesis that the basis
of reading problems is a difficulty in
phonological processing.
• Implications: Speech perception is an
effective component in phonological
training (Ortiz, Garcia, & Guzman,
Characteristics of Spanishspeakers with RD
• Spanish speakers, even those with RD
appear to be able to divide words into
syllables but the difficulty comes at the
phoneme level.
• Ortiz et al., (2007) found that the
performance of Spanish-speaking
children with RD was lower than agematched non-disabled readers in
discriminating initial phonemes.
Characteristics of Spanishspeakers with RD
• These students consistently display
poorer phonological awareness skills
and use a phonological strategy
(sounding out) less often than peers
without RD.
Characteristics of Spanishspeakers with RD
• Research (Jimenez, 1997; Jimenez &
Hernandez-Valle, 200; Rodrigo & Jimenez,
1999) has found that purely phonological
deficits are less common in Spanish.
• Poor readers in Spanish often read words
with accuracy but their main problem is
decoding unusual or low-frequency words
and nonwords (Escribano, 2007).
• Assessing rapid serial naming appears to be
very important.
Naming Speed in Transparent
• It was found that in both German and
Dutch (transparent languages)
naming speed was a robust predictor
of reading performance (Frith,
Wimmer, & Landerl, 1998; de Jong &
van der Leij, 2003).
The Importance of Early
• McCardle et al. (2005) report that ELL
students are identified as having a
learning disability most often in grades
4 through 6, 2 – 3 years later than most
English-only children.
• It is probable that this delay may
ultimately affect their academic
Transferable Skills
• Manis, Lindsey and Bailey (2004) found that children
were able to transfer phonological awareness and
word-decoding skills from Spanish to English
• However, their development was slower in English
vocabulary and memory for sentences.
• The amount of exposure to printed materials in
Spanish is the primary predictor of later Englishreading skills.
• It appears that in transparent languages
phonological skills are a key predictor of reading
and the second predictor being RAN.
High PA in Spanish is a
Transferable Skill
• Children with high phonological awareness
in Spanish can be expected to develop
phonological awareness more quickly than
other children in English
• This reflects their metalinguistic insights about
onsets, rimes, phonemic units and so forth,
and knowledge of shared spelling-sound
Progression of PA in Spanishspeakers
• The developmental progression of PA in Spanish
appears to be similar to that in English.
• Manrique and Signorini (1998) and Leafstedt and
Gerber (2005) divide these into two levels:
– First level – rhyming, syllable awareness, and sound
matching (all of these are usually learned indirectly
through songs, words games, etc.)
– Second level – segmental awareness skills such as soundletter identification, blending, phoneme segmentation and
manipulation, spelling and reading (usually learned
through formal literacy instruction)
Instructional Implications
• Students failing to make progress in
reading English words despite
instruction in English might benefit from
direct, intensive instruction in Spanish
phonological skills.
Teaching PA in Spanish
• Rhyming practice, songs, poetry (for earliest stages
• With ESL students do lots of rhyming; pair with picture
• Use poems. Poems are great for immigrant children
(especially from Mexico) since they are used to
memorizing poems within their country's educational
• Segmenting Syllables
– Students clap or tap once for each syllable they
– Students name or other familiar words can be used
– Teacher models, does it with the students, then
students do it themselves
– Practice segmenting and blending with thematic
word lists or word walls
Teaching PA in Spanish
• Blending Syllables
– Teacher pronounces words in a syllable
individually, but smoothly (paaa-to)
– Students pronounce words as a unit
– Related to sounding out words
• Phoneme Segmentation
– Students learn to say a word slowly and smoothly
(stretch the word mmmeeesssaa)
– Teacher models, leads, students then do it
– Start with known word - how do we stretch it out?
• Phoneme Blending
– Teacher says the word in the stretched version
Teaching PA in Spanish
• In Spanish you start mostly with two syllable words since there
are very few one syllable words. They should have continuous
consonant sounds (sol, mano) rather that "stop" sounds (pez).
• Easier words begin with single initial consonants rather than
blends (e.g., pez not primo, gusto no grupo).
• Use “estimated spelling” (aka"Inventive spelling“)
– Teacher models the skill first
– Students say a word slowly and write the sounds they hear
– Students will probably be able to record only the first or final
consonant in the beginning stages
– Sound out words smoothly
• Middle School recent immigrant should also practice
phonemic awareness activities but these are often done
through spelling.
• Barahona Center for the Study of
Books in Spanish for Children and
Assessment Issues
• Assessment depends on the levels of
proficiency in L1 and L2.
• L1 assessment may provide a more
accurate inventory of a children’s
knowledge and skills.
• It is imperative, however, to know the
child’s educational history and
language(s) of instruction.
• Assessment should include
Knowledge of letter names and sounds
Phonological awareness
Rapid naming
Word reading accuracy
Word reading efficiency
Reading comprehension
Assessment Must Reflect
instructional History
• If a child has had literacy instruction in L1
prior to literacy instruction in English, it is
imperative to assess the child’s skills in L1.
• If the child has acquired literacy in L1
and then fails to acquire English literacy,
this is probably more of an issue related
to the quantity and quality of English
literacy and language instruction.
Assessment Must Reflect
instructional History
• If a child has not developed literacy skills
in L1 and has had adequate opportunity
to do so, then there is a likelihood of a
phonological core deficit when the
language is alphabetic.
• Assessment in only one language can
give an incomplete picture of a student’s
knowledge, skills and needs.
• Metalinguistic awareness does not
need to be learned separately for
each language.
• The ability of multilingual students to
manipulate and reassemble words
can be measured reliably in the
majority language.
Assess Expressive Language
• Expressive language was found to
show a stronger within- than acrosslanguage relationship to later reading.
• Children at risk for poor reading might
be identified based on their expressive
language performance on a
screening battery in L1.
Assessment of Word
Recognition in L1
• It is often believed that poor reading
performance is the result of poor oral
language skills.
• Research does not support this (Juel,
Griffith & Gough, 1986, Durgunoglu,
Nagy & Hancin-Bhatt, 1993).
• Implication: Professionals should not
wait to assess reading skills until oral
language proficiency is strong.
• Practice in phoneme discrimination in
words or syllables (the trainer presents a
set of five words oralloy, of which only
one is different, e.g., pala, pala, pala,
tala, pala; and the children put their
hands up when they hear the different
• Word pair categorization (e.g., the
children hear a pair of words and
give a response of same or different.
• Word phonological identification (e.g.,
the children listen to a word, e.g.,
/pala/, and have to match it with one
of two different pictures, e.g., palabala). Syllable and word pairs should
differ in terms of a single phoneme.
This phoneme would be identical in all
respects but one phonetic feature.
• Begin speech perception training
with the discrimination of syllable or
word pairs that differ in place of
articulation, then progressing to
manner of articulation contrasts, and
finally working with voicing contrasts.
Remember to Build
Background Knowledge
• Background knowledge is one of the
most critical factors in the ability to
read stories and then retell the story.
• For optimal instruction, teachers need
to build such language acquisition in a
low-risk and low-anxiety environment
keeping the “affective filter” low.
Use Good ELL Methodology
• Teachers must good ELL methodology such
as using repetitive language and routines,
all new information was modeled rather
than just explained, and children were
provided many opportunities to dialogue
with the teacher as well as practice every
Oracy Component to
• Vaughn, Mathes, Linan-Thompson, and
Francis (2005) found that word study and
phonics instruction (in L1 or L2) were
• They also found that reading
interventions only were not enough to
help struggling ELL students.
Oracy Component to
• Struggling ELL students needed an
additional oracy component each day.
• The oracy component should last for at least
10 minutes daily in the same language as
their literacy instruction.
• This could be in the form of daily readalouds from children’s expository texts.
Their 7 Steps to Intervention
1. Overview of the theme and selected story
2. Preteach two or three identified
vocabulary words
3. Read aloud to the students of 200-250
words of the text
4. Reread the same passage asking students
to listen carefully for the new vocabulary
Their 7 Steps to Intervention
Select target students to lead the summarization
of what was read
Ask questions and provide scaffolding to process
key words and comprehension of text
Connect key vocabulary words and concepts
each day so that students deepen their
knowledge and understanding of the theme and
related concepts
Interventions for ELL Students
with Dyslexia
• The general rule of thumb is to provide
then with the same continuum of
strategic approaches used with other
struggling readers such as:
Guided reading
Teacher read-alouds
Shared reading
Literature circles
Discussion groups
Intervention for Spanishspeakers with RD
• Ortiz et al. (2002) showed that a
training program that integrates
speech perception, phoneme
awareness, and instruction in soundsymbol connections improved word
reading in Spanish children with RD.
The Big 5 Necessary Components for
Teaching Reading to ELLs
Phonemic Awareness, letter knowledge, and concepts of print
The alphabetic code: phonics and decoding
Fluent, automatic reading of text
Text Comprehension
Some children must learn a new alphabet system
Some children may need to learn to read from left to right
Research shows that phonemic awareness is a transferable skill
Phonological tasks with unknown words are more difficult.
Systematic phonics should be linked to spelling
If a student is literate in their first language they should be fast-tracked to decoding
Fast-track decoding skills for students in 4th – 12th grades
For beginning English Language Learner readers, use wordless picture books.
Begin with pattern and predictable books and move to decodable books.
Fast-track building fluency skills for students in 4th – 12th grades
Teach different tiers of vocabulary
Explicit instruction in how to analyze words to detect meaning
Practice words in meaningful context
Select books that are a close match to your students’ level of language development.
Do not ask an ELL student to read aloud to assess their reading comprehension. We want to be
certain that students do not become “word callers” but rather read for meaning. Also, reading
aloud may make students become self-conscious and again lose the meaning of the text.
Additional Necessary Components for
Teaching Reading to ELL Students
• Build background knowledge
• Literacy in L1 supports English literacy
Phonemic Awareness Instruction
for ELL Students
• It may be difficult for ELL students to hear English
• For example, some Spanish-speaking students from
South American have not been exposed to eight
English phonemes such as the English short vowels
as in “pit,” “pet,” “puf.”
• Also, between 46 and 53 consonant clusters in
English appear in the initial position of the word and
more than 36 consonant clusters appear in the final
position, while Spanish is limited to 12 consonant
clusters that can occur both in the initial word and
syllable position.
• Additionally, Spanish has no final consonant clusters
such as “ld” and “sk” (Kramer & Rubison, 1983).
Phonemic Awareness Instruction
for ELL Students
• Studies indicate that students can be taught
to hear sounds that do not appear in their L1
(Kramer & Rubison, 1983; Stuart, 1999).
• Research showed that it was sufficient to
train children on the most difficult sounds for
the children to distinguish, rather than on all
the sounds.
• Pronunciation differences should not be
considered incorrect.
Sample of a Reading Passage Given
to a Second Grade English Language
Learner Student
A whale came by sail.
A shrimp came by blimp.
A snail came by rail.
A loon came by balloon.
An albatross came across.
A stingray came by the day.
A tuna came around noon-a.
A sardine came at 12:19.
A clam came by pram.
A dolphin came a-golfin’.
The pike took a hike.
A shark came after dark.
The electric eel came and made a big deal.
Fluency and ELL Students
• Repeated oral reading practice and guided
repeated oral reading practice are
effective in building reading fluency for
• ELL students may have less opportunity to
read aloud with feedback than English-only
• Also, reading fluency is bolstered if children
understand the text they are reading.
Fluency and ELL Students
• Van Wagenen, Williams, and McLaughlin (1994)
found that assisted reading is helpful for increasing
ELL’s reading rates, word accuracy and
• During assisted reading, students read silently while
listening to a teacher’s recording of the passage,
then read the passage aloud, reads the passage
three times silently with the tape, and reads the
passage a second time aloud.
• Their analysis found that assisted reading helped
students increase the number of words correctly per
minute, decreased error rates and improved
• It is clear that a large and rich vocabulary is the hallmark of an
educated individual (Beck).
• Vocabulary knowledge is strongly related to reading proficiency and
school achievement.
• It is important to attend to vocabulary from the earliest grades.
• The problem is that there are profound differences in vocabulary
knowledge among learners from different ability or socioeconomic
(SES) group from toddlers through high school.
• According to research, teachers must make vocabulary instruction
robust, vigorous, strong and powerful to be effective.
• Vocabulary learning should entail active engagement in
learning tasks.
• As many connections as possible should be made for specific
• Students reading in their first language have already learned
5,000 to 7,000 words before they begin formal reading
instruction (Biemiller & Slonin, 2001).
• They also have a sense of the grammar of the language.
• ELL students, however, usually do not have large vocabularies
in L2 nor a complete sense of its grammar.
• Research by Laufer (2001) shows that
students are more likely to remember a
word they have used in an original
sentence, or incorporated into a
composition, than a word they have
seen in a text, even if they have
looked it up in a dictionary.
Robust Vocabulary Instruction
• A robust approach to vocabulary instruction
involves directly explaining the meanings of
words along with thought-provoking, playful and
interactive follow-up.
• Struggling readers do not read well enough to
derive meaning from text.
• Thus, depending on wide reading as a source of
vocabulary growth leaves at-risk students with a
serious deficit (Beck, 2001).
Ideas for Robust Vocabulary
• Introduce the unit theme in an
“intriguing” way such as using props,
music, actions, riddles, analogies,
• Select the key vocabulary words or
key phrases.
Vocabulary Instruction
• Present words using role play, action, and real
• Have students be responsible for presenting a
word after coaching from the teacher. This will
help create “personal connections” and make
the word meaningful to the student.
• There must be a visual involved. This may be an
actual object or a picture of someone doing an
action (a digital camera is very useful).
• When possible, demonstrate the opposite
• Words can be presented over several days.
Vocabulary Instruction
• After words have been presented (in a
multimodal way), give clues (definitions) to
describe the words. Individual students can
match the vocabulary word. Or do this as
team competitions.
• Students can identify the word by simply
pointing to the word card with the attached
• Create a word wall or special area for
students to have access to the words and
Vocabulary Lesson Closure
• Ask questions relating to the
comprehensible action. For example if one
of the words is “gushed” you may ask:
“What gushed out of the carton?”
• Questions should be phrased so English
Language Learners at the earliest stage can
identify the correct answer by pointing and
not need to answer orally.
Use the Vocabulary Daily
• The key vocabulary words or phrases should
be used daily both in a natural context and
through short game formats.
• Establish teams and give points for
identifying the target word or phrase when
used by teacher or peer.
• Give team points for finding the word in print
at school or at home in newspapers, books,
Ways to Use the Target
• Categorize Words
– Example: Make Yes and No columns and begin
listing some target words. Have students “Guess
the Rule.” The words can be grouped by
beginning/ending sounds, etc. and be done as a
mini-skills lesson
• Which One is Missing?
– Select a few words/phrases with their attached
visual cue. Have students study them, close their
eyes, then guess which one is missing
Ways to Use the Target
• Word Showdown
– Divide class into two to four groups. Have
two students come up. State the target
word or phrase and see who is the first to
slap their hand on the table to give the
definition. They can also identify the word
by pointing to the word card with visual
cue on Word Wall.
Ways to Use the Target
• Think Tank
– State a target word. Give a “palms up” signal.
Everyone at the same time creates as many
sentences as possible using the word. Each
student, as well as the teacher, will say their
sentences aloud.
– “Palms down” signal means quiet. Call on a
student to tell you their sentence.
– This approach allows students to practice in a
non-threatening way. They can also hear what
other’s are saying and will help refine nonauditory learners’ listening skills.
Ways to Use the Target
• Create Total Physical Response (TPR)
commands that require students to
“interact” with the picture’s focal point.
– Example: If a fire hydrant appears in the drawing
that illustrate the word “gushed”, the water
gushing from the hydrant is the part that directly
related to the word’s meaning.
– Create commands such as: “Put your finger on
the water gushing.” “Use your finger to circle the
gushing water.” “Blow over the gushing water.”
“Use your thumb to jump into the gushing water.”
Ways to Use the Target
• Play “Word Hunt.” Hide cards with the target words written
on them around the room - in books, desks, under pencil
boxes, etc.
• When students find them, give their team a point if they
can give the definition (or for lower level English Language
Learners, if they can match it to the correct card/visual
cue on Word Wall).
• If students can read the cards, they’re demonstrating
recognition recall in a visual format.
Three Tiers of Vocabulary
Instruction: Tier One
• Tier One words rarely require instructional
attention (Beck, 2001).
• They consist of basic words.
• Examples are: baby, clock, happy, walk,
jump, hop, slide, girl, boy, dog
Tier Two
• Tier Two words contain high frequency words
that are found across a variety of domains.
• Examples are: Coincidence, absurd,
industrious, fortunate, and other Super Duper
Words previously mentioned.
• Rich knowledge of words in this tier can have a
powerful impact on verbal functioning
Tier Three
• Tier Three words are made up of words
whose frequency of use is quite low and
often limited to specific domains.
• Examples are: Isotope, lathe, peninsula,
• These words are best learned when a
specific need arises such as a geography
Captioned TV
• Studies show that watching captioned
TV results in higher levels of English
proficiency and is associated with
vocabulary learning.
Literacy Development Strategies and Stages of
Language Acquisition - Preproduction/Early Production
• Shared reading
• Concepts about print
• Read aloud, listening
• Chants
• Choral/Echo Reading
• Dramatization/Role
• Puppetry/finger plays
• Flannel board stories
• Recreations
• Interactive journals
• Language Experience
• Alphabet games
• Book publishing
• Brainstorming/webbing
• Cloze activities
• Compare/contrast
stories using illustrations
• Concentration games
Literacy Development Strategies and Stages of
Language Acquisition – Speech Emergence
All of the activities from previous slide, PLUS:
Guided reading
Story mapping
Reader’s theater
Process writing (emphasis on
Book talks
Critical thinking
Idiomatic expressions
Language focus lessons
Literature circles
Pair/share writing
Pen pals
Reciprocal teaching
Retelling stories
Syntax Surgery
Vocabulary development
Literacy Development Strategies and Stages of
Language Acquisition – Intermediate/Advanced
All of the activities from previous slide, PLUS:
Process writing (all steps)
Journal writing
Reader’s workshop
Directed reading
Research projects
Creative dramatics
Public speaking/formal
– Use of scaffolding to
allow access to grade
level/age appropriate
narrative and expository
– Continue with (modifiedenriched) strategies
previously introduced
– Debates
– Feature analysis
– Interviews
– Literature response
– Word studies (root words,
prefixes, suffixes, word
– Write directions
Intensive Programs
• Explicit and intensive teaching are essential features
of classroom instruction aimed at promoting
reading success in both L1 and ELL children and
needs to begin in kindergarten.
• Additionally, systematic student assessment is
• Literacy-intensive programs that include systematic
assessment and that balance explicit instruction
with basic reading skills training can prevent the
consequences of underassessment and the need
for targeted interventions.
Additional Classroom Dynamics
• ELL students need to be immersed in
classroom environment with contextrich, interactive, and supportive
collaborations where there is much
language exploration and
conversational use in literacy
interactions among peers.
Families as Literacy Partners
• Research has shown that initial literacy
instruction should build on the
strengths of the home language.
• Families should be considered to be
the school’s literacy partners for all
children who have a home language
different from the instructional
language of the school.
• The children’s cultures should be
infused into lesson presentations.
International Reading Association Position
Statement on Second-Language Literacy
• Affirms the right of families to have
options in regard to their children’s
initial literacy instruction whether it be
in the home language or in the
primary language of the school.
• (Language policy, however, is
moving away from native language
International Reading Association Position
Statement on Second-Language Literacy
• Most ELL students need more than
one year to learn English.
• Educators need to collaboratively
seek out as many ways as possible to
support access to initial literacy
development in both home and
school languages.
Factors Involved in L2 Learning and Reading
• Remember, literacy strategies which are successful in helping Englishonly students learn to read in English may not be helpful for ELLs.
• Teach ELL students the conceptual basis for English spelling patterns
– Word families
– Root words
• Work on memorizing high frequency words.
• Use graphic organizers to aide comprehension of story sequence,
cause and effect, etc.
• Focus on the vocabulary that carries the logic of the language such
as negatives, conjunctions, prepositions and abstract words.
• Help ELL students distinguish important from unimportant text
• Since reading success is so dependent on oral language skills, it is
imperative to emphasize vocabulary and rich language
• Teaching word reading skills alone will not suffice!
What You Need to Know
About the Spanish
The Spanish Alphabet
• 29 letters spell 24 phonemes
• Highly regular and rule governed, with a few
“letras difíciles” that have multiple
phoneme-graphic correspondences
• There are no “double letters”: ch, ll, & rr
represent a single phoneme. The ñ comes
from the Latin nn.
• H is silent and u is silent after g unless it
carries a “diérisis” (bilingüe, pingüino) and
after q (queso)
Spanish Phonics
Phonemic awareness
Letter-sound correspondences
Spelling patterns
Diphthongs and syllable juncture
Categorization of words according to
stressed syllable
• Rules for the use of written accent marks
English Phonics
• Consonants and vowels
• Consonant blends and digraphs
• Long and short vowels
• R-controlled vowels
• Vowel digraphs
• Diphthongs
• Homophones & homographs
Spanish Phonemes Spelled Using
Multiple Graphemes
• Vowel phoneme i is written as i and as y (i griega) in
diphthongs ending a word (soy, muy)
• Labiodental /b/ is written as either b or v (haba,
• /k/ is written as c before a, o, u, or as k or as qu
(casa, kiosco, queso)
• /s/ is written as c before e, i or as s or as z (cerro,
silla, zorro)
• /h/ is written as g before e, i or as j (gigante, jinete)
and as x (México, Don Quixote)
• /y/ is written as ie, ll or y (hielo, lleno, yodo)
Spanish Graphemes That Spell
Multiple Phonemes
• The letter b spells the bilabial b as in burro
and the labiodental b as in arriba
• The letter c spells /k/ as in casa and /s/ as in
• The letter g spells /g/ as in gallo and /h/ as in
• The letter y spells the vowel sound i at the
end of words as in soy and the consonant
sound y as in yegua
Spanish in Spain and Latin
• The x respresents a number of phonemes:
/h/, /x/ and in Mexico /sh/ for words from
Náhuatl and Otomí.
• In Latin America, the ll and y in initial position
are pronounced the same (llama, yerno)
• In Spain, the z before a, o u represents a soft
/th/ sound. This sound is also spelled ce & ci.
Words ending in z change to c when
forming the plural (pez-peces; lápiz-lápices)
Spanish Spelling Patterns
Hard g
ge, je
gi, ji
Spanish Structural Analysis
• Word derivations: roots, prefixes and suffixes
• Inflection and agreement (subject-verb,
adjectives, possessives)
• Enclisis (combining two classes of words)
• Contractions (conjunción)
• Shortened forms of words (apócope)
• Compound words
• Cognates
Spanish Syllable Patterns
• A single consonant occurring between vowels is
joined to the vowel or vowels that follow.
• Two separate consonants between vowels are
• A strong vowel (a,e,o) combined in a syllable with a
weak vowel (i, u) forming a diphthong or triphthong
are not separated.
• Consonant blends (consonant with l or r) are not
• When s is in a prefix, it forms a syllable with the prefix
English Syllable Patterns
Closed: Short vowel ending with consonant
Open: Long vowel, no consonant ending
Vowel Digraph: vowel spelled with 2+ letters
C-le at the ends of words
R-controlled vowel
Vowel-consonant-e long vowel pattern
Word Study in Spanish
• Letras difíciles
• Parts of speech &
changes of function
• Singular/plural
inflections &
• Classification by
syllable stress & written
• Cognates
• Verb tenses,
conjugation and
• Diminutive and
derivitives (ito, ón, ote,
• Enclisis & apócope
(cualquier, cualquiera,
gran, grande)
Word Study in Dual Language
• Picture sorts
• Concept sorts
• Letter-sound
correspondence sorts
• Same-vowel word
• Mixed-vowel word
• Word Hunt
• Word Bank
• Word Wall
• High-frequency word
• Word strips
• Word Study Notebooks
• Dictation
• Word games
Final Thought
To teach in a manner that respects
in afor
the souls
of respects
students is essential if we are to
students is essential if we are to
provide the necessary conditions
provide the necessary conditions
where learning can most deeply
and intimately
intimately begin.
- bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress
Thank you!
• Julie Esparza Brown
Portland State University
(503) 725-4696

ELL Students and Dyslexia