A National Literacy Panel
to Conduct a Comprehensive
Evidence-Based Review of
the Research Literature on
the Development of Literacy
Among Language Minority
Children and Youth
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children
and Youth
Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Support for the Panel
Institute of Education Sciences
With additional support from
National Institute for Child Health and
Development
Office of English Language Acquisition
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Overview of Presentation (and focus of the
report)
Background information about the National Literacy Panel on
Language Minority Children and Youth
Highlights of the Panel report
Development of literacy
Relationship between English oral proficiency and English
literacy
Relationship between first language literacy and second
language literacy
Role of socio-cultural factors in literacy development
Assessment
Schooling: effective instructional practices
Questions
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Purpose of a National Panel
Develop an objective research review
methodology
Search the research literature on the
development of literacy for language minority
students
Analyze the research literature
Develop a final report with recommendations
for research and suggestions for practice
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Panelists and Staff
Panelists
Diane August, Principal
Investigator
Timothy Shanahan, Chair
Fred Genesee
Esther Geva
Michael Kamil
Isabelle Beck
Claude Goldenberg
Robert Rueda
Margarita Calderon
Gail McKoon
Georgia Garcia
Senior Research Associates
Cheryl Dressler
Nonie LeSaux
Linda Siegel
Keiko Koda
David Francis
Senior Advisors
Donna Christian
Catherine Snow
Frederick Erickson
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Process
US Department of Education constitutes the panel
Five panel meetings, several subgroup meetings, and
numerous, ongoing conference calls over the past four years
Five working groups each focused on a different domain
Seven electronic searches and hand searches of key journals
Criteria established for inclusion
Coding of all studies in a file-maker database
Writing
One internal round of review and 2 external rounds of review
Extensive editing and revisions
Report published in July by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Parameters for the Research Synthesis
Language minority children
Ages 3-18
Acquisition of literacy in their first language and the
societal language
Empirical research
Peer-reviewed journals, dissertations, technical
reports
Research published between 1980-2002
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Development of Literacy
The word-level literacy skills of language minority
students (e.g. decoding, spelling) are much more
likely to be at levels equal to mono-lingual English
speakers.
However, this is not the case for text level skills (e.g.,
reading comprehension, writing). These skills rarely
reach levels equal to monolingual English speakers.
A crucial area of investigation is how to build the
English proficiency skills of second language
learners because these skills impede students’
ability to achieve to high levels in text level skills.
There are similar proportions of second language
learners and monolingual speakers classified as
poor readers.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Relationship between Second Language Oral
Proficiency and Second Language Literacy
Measures of oral language proficiency in English
correlated positively with word and pseudo-word
reading skills in English, but were not strong
predictors of these skills. In contrast, various
measures of phonological processing skills in
English (e.g., phonological awareness) were much
more robust predictors of word and pseudo-word
reading skills.
In contrast, well developed oral proficiency in
English is associated with well-developed reading
comprehension skills and writing skills in English.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Relationship between First Language
Literacy and Second Language Literacy
First language literacy is related in important ways to
second language literacy
First language word and pseudo-word reading,
vocabulary (cognates), reading strategies, reading
comprehension, spelling, and writing are related to
these skills in a second language
Thus, language minority children who are literate in
their first language are likely to be advantaged in
English
Important to take ‘transfer’ into consideration when
planning instruction
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Socio-cultural Factors that Influence Literacy
• Little evidence that immigration
circumstances influence literacy outcomes.
• Little evidence that discourse and
interactional differences influence literacy
outcomes.
• However, instructional accommodations to
discourse differences improve engagement and
participation (e.g. overlapping speech; conarration; additional wait time) and thus may be
related to literacy outcomes.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Socio-cultural Factors that Influence Literacy
• Familiarity with the content of reading materials has a positive
effect on comprehension. Might not be related to culture per se
but to background knowledge.
• Little other evidence for the impact of cultural factors (aside from
language per se) or social group factors (aside from SESrelated) on outcomes.
• Language-specific relationship between home language use and
literacy outcomes
• Parents can have a positive effect on literacy outcomes. However,
schools typically do not take advantage of this.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Assessment
Most assessments cited in the research to gauge languageminority students’ language proficiency and content
knowledge in English were inadequate.
However, the research reviewed occurred prior to the
implementation of NCLB
There is current ongoing work to assess the development of
second language proficiency in language-minority students
Monitor proficiency over time
Assess academic language
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Schooling: Teaching the Elements
Methodological Challenges
The group of experimental studies focused on the elements of
literacy is heterogeneous, creating a challenge to summarize
research results across these studies.
Classroom-level factors associated with outcomes for English
language learners have received less attention than have
other areas of research.
NRP located about 450 studies that examined development
of the five components of literacy.
NLP located 17 such studies.
Few studies examine the development of literacy or effective
literacy practices for non-Spanish background English
language learners.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Phonemic Awareness and Phonics:
Research
Specific sounds and sound placement in words differ for different
languages (e.g., short vowels in ‘pit’, ‘pet’ and ‘puf’ have no
couterparts in Spanish).
Phonological tasks with unknown words are more difficult.
For ELLs, unfamiliar phonemes and graphemes make decoding
and spelling difficult.
For literate ELLs, English graphemes have different sounds in L1
(i.e., jar).
Limited English proficiency prevents children from using word
meaning to figure out how to read a word.
But need to keep these issues in perspective given the relative
ease with which ELLs acquire accuracy in word-level skills
compared with text-level skills
Note that word accuracy is not the same as word automaticity
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Phonemic Awareness and Phonics:
Research
Findings are consistent with the very solid L1 research
findings--both phonemic awareness and phonics
instruction confer clear benefits on children’s
reading development.
• Stuart, 1999; Larsen, 1996; Gunn, Biglan, Smolkowski, & Ary,
2000; Gunn, Smolkowski, Biglan, & Black, 2002
There is no evidence that phonemic awareness and
phonics instruction in English needs to be delayed
until a certain threshold of English oral language
proficiency is attained.
• Important to keep in mind issues raised in previous slide
• If children have phonological awareness in Spanish, do not need
PA training in English
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Phonemic Awareness and Phonics:
Research
Helping students hear English sounds that don’t exist or are not
salient in their home language is beneficial.
Examples include minimal pairs such as the initial consonant
blends in cheat and sheet.
Kramer, Schell, & Rubison, 1983
Our work:
In testing, directions and practice given in both languages
create a transition curriculum where we emphasize sounds that
are different/don’t exist in the first language
Before students read connected text, we use a “Watch & Listen”
technique
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Fluency: Issues for ELLs
Fluency embraces both word recognition and
comprehension. That is fluency enables reading
comprehension by freeing cognitive resources for
interpretation, but also depends on
comprehension, as it necessarily includes
preliminary interpretive steps. Because of ELLs
limited comprehension of second language texts,
attaining fluency can be challenging
ELLs often have less opportunity to read aloud in
English with feedback.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Fluency: Research
There are too few studies of teaching oral reading fluency with
ELLs to draw firm conclusions.
• Denton, 2000; De la Colina, Parker, Hasbrouck, & Lara-Alecio,
2001
Fluency training similarly benefits ELLs and English-speaking
students.
• Existing studies have used good English models and
paired ELLs with proficient English readers.
• Existing studies ensure students understand the text
before they read it.
• With good instruction, ELLs make significant progress
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Fluency: Research
Our work
Younger students: after explicit instruction in
letter-sound relationships, and ‘watch & listen’ we
use echo reading, whisper reading, cloze reading,
and partner reading
Older students: model fluent reading and have
students practice in pairs with text aligned to core
content
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Vocabulary: Issues/Strengths
ELLS arrive at school with a much more limited English
vocabulary than English-speaking students.
• A total of about 5,000-7,000 words that monolinguals know when
they arrive in school
• Words that English-speaking students know that ELLs do
not (adjectives such as hardly, several; adverbs such as
nearly, sometimes, often, always; cohesion markers such
as but, thus, however; idioms such as near and far, just the
one)
ELLs may lack background knowledge as well as labels for
English vocabulary.
ELLs and English speakers may have different concepts for the
same label.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Vocabulary: Issues/Strengths
Words with multiple meanings can be a source of
confusion. These tend to be high frequency words in
English (e.g., bug)
ELLs literate in a first language that has many cognates
with English (e.g., perfecto) have an important
resource
1/2 to 1/3 of words in a language are cognates (of
10,000-15,000 words in all)
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Vocabulary: Research
Four empirical studies
Incidental learning improves vocabulary when the oral
discourse is aligned with the visual images. However,
students needed to have some English proficiency to take
advantage of this intervention (Neuman and Koskinen, 1992)
Intentional learning improves vocabulary:
• Teach words (Perez, 1991; Carlo et al., 2002)
• Teach strategies (Carlo et al., 2002)
• Build word consciousness (Carlo et al, 2002)
• Immerse students in a language rich environment (Carlo et
al. 2002)
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Vocabulary: Research (Carlo et al., 2004;
August et al, 2006)
• Teach words: focused on a small number of words that
students are likely to encounter often (e.g. heritage, values,
obtain, periodically); help students make semantic links to other
words and concepts related to the target word)
• Teach strategies: infer meaning from context, use roots and
affixes, cognates, morphological relationships, comprehension
monitoring
• Build word consciousness: word wizard
• Immerse students in a language rich environment:
appealing themes, variety of genres, games, cooperative groups
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Comprehension: Issues for ELLs
Limited word recognition skills and fluency impede
comprehension
Limited vocabulary impedes comprehension
Structural differences between languages can
mislead ELLs
Text structures vary across cultures and this may
influence comprehension
Culture influences, but does not completely
determine, background knowledge
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Comprehension: Research
Only three few empirical studies focus exclusively on
comprehension and ELLs.
• Simplify text by omitting trivial elements (Bean, 1982)
Too few studies to determine best way to facilitate
comprehension in ELLs.
Unlike first language research, strategy instruction did not
always help reading comprehension.
• Shames, 1998
• Swicegood, 1990
Might learn more about promising practices from studies that
examine more than one literacy component at a time and
from the qualitative research.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Examples of modifications to interventions
based on research
Identify and clarify difficult words and passages within text to facilitate
comprehension
• Pre-teach vocabulary (different kinds of words and texts)
• Paraphrase text to make it more comprehensible
• Use children’s first language
Constantly monitor and build students’ comprehension
• Ask lots of questions to build comprehension
• Ask different levels of questions
Provide lots of opportunities for students to practice their second
language
• Story retells
• Written responses
Respond to students in ways that build oral proficiency and
comprehension
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Results of Teaching the Elements
• Studies suggest that overall the types of instruction
that help monolingual English-speaking students are
are advantageous for second-language learners as
well
•Effect sizes are lower
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Results of Teaching the Elements
• Phonics/PA
n=446
• Fluency
n=167
• Vocabulary
n=105
• Reading comp
n=153
• Writing
n=238
4
.54 (.36)
longest study= 5 mos.
2
longest study=12 weeks
2
1.20
longest study=13 weeks
2
.11
longest study=1 year
4
.54
longest study=1 year
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Results of Teaching the Elements
Adjustments are needed, but these were rarely
described in detail
•Emphasizing phonemes not available in
home language
•Building on students’ first language strengths
•Efforts to make word meaning clear through picture cues
and other techniques
•Identifying and clarifying difficult passages
•Ample opportunities for students to practice oral
language aligned with the curriculum
•Providing extra practice reading words, sentences and
stories
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Results: Teaching the Elements
Levels of English proficiency and student capability
influence how well a particular intervention works, thus
the need for differentiated instruction
Some students do not benefit from instruction
because they have learning difficulties or social
problems
Second-language learners below a certain level of
proficiency are less able to take advantage of
some of the interventions (e.g., collaborative
strategic teaching)
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Less Targeted Approaches
• Some approaches to teaching literacy emphasize
teaching of several of the elements
• Many complex or less targeted methods have been
successful in teaching monolingual English
speakers
• But what about second language learners?
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Less Targeted Approaches
• Too fractionated a picture to allow large claims to
be made for any single approach
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Less Targeted Approaches
• Encouraging reading and writing (6)
• Reading to children (3)
• Tutoring and remediation (2)
• Success for All (3)
• Instructional conversations (2)
• Cooperative grouping (1)
• Mastery learning (1)
• Captioned TV (1)
• Parent involvement (1)
• Other (2)
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Less Targeted Approaches
Encouraging reading
English reading
3 studies with positive significant effects
2 studies; n=1238; .56 effect size
Longest study = 2 years
Home language reading on second language outcomes
3 studies with non-significant effects
2 studies; n= 672; effect size -.15
Longest study = 1 year
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Less Targeted Approaches
Reading to Children
2 of 3 studies with positive significant effects
1 study
n=77
.66
Longest study = 57 weeks
Tutoring and Remediation
1 of 2 studies with positive significant effects
1 study
n=46
1.15
Longest study = 16 weeks
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Less Targeted Approaches
Success for All
2 of 3 studies with positive significant effects
only 1 with English language outcomes
1 study
n = 50
.20
Longest study = 2 years
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Results of Less Targeted Approaches
• Results were generally positive—meaning that it is
clear that we can improve the literacy teaching of
second language learners
• 20 studies had English language literacy measures
and 12 of those 20 showed significant positive
effects
• Across those 20 studies the average effect was .46
• Larger impacts tended to be on decoding
measures and smaller impacts on comprehension
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Schooling: Language of Instruction
20 = Total Studies Reviewed (96 were identified)
16
5
= Studies with Language Minority Students (14
Elementary and 2 Secondary; 15 in Meta-Analysis)
= Studies with Language Minority Students used
random assignment
26 = Total number of independent study samples in
meta-analysis (Total N = 4,567; BE = 2,665;
EO = 1,902)
71 = Total number of effect sizes on English literacy
outcomes (Study samples by measures)
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Schooling: Language of Instruction
From the analyses conducted, it seems safe to
conclude that bilingual education has a positive
effect on children’s literacy in English.
The magnitude of this effect is small to moderate in
size, but is apparent both in the complete collection
of studies, and in the subset of studies that involved
random assignment.
There is substantial variability in the magnitude of the
effect size across different studies, and within
subsets of studies, including the subset of
randomized studies.
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Overall Conclusions
• Teaching the literacy elements to second-language learners
is a good idea
• Efforts to improve second language literacy in more complex
ways are helpful, too
• Instructional innovations have smaller impacts on ELL
learning (need to do these things and more)
• Need more experimental research on how to improve the
literacy of second language learners
• Need new research-reporting that provides explicit details
about how reading instruction was adjusted
• Bilingual schooling has a positive effect on literacy
development compared with English-only instruction
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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Additional Information
www.cal.org
[email protected]
National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth Copyright © 2006 Center for Applied Linguistics
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