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Effective Literacy Strategies for English Language Learners

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Introduction

English Language Learners (hereafter referred to as ELLs) currently comprise 10% of the total school population in the United States (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). It is a population that is going to continue to increase in American public education and their specific needs for learning literacy are of great importance to teachers. Since schools and teachers are increasingly judged based upon the academic achievement of students, then the success of the growing population of ELLs is going to be increasingly important. In the present paper the role of the teacher and specific research-based literacy strategies for ELLs is investigated.

Teacher’s role

In a research article by Yoon (2007), the question of the teacher’s pedagogical approach in relation to ELLs participation in the classroom was investigated. Three teachers with varying approaches to teaching ELLs were observed. The first teacher believed that teaching ELLs was not his “full responsibility” and to talk or not was the students choice and the teacher respected it. Also many of the discussions were based on American cultural topics. This teacher reported that the ELLs in his classroom were “shy and quiet.” The ELLs in this classroom reported being “frustrated” and often did partner work with special education or other non-mainstream peers. The second teacher modeled through her teaching how to position ELLs as important members of her learning community. She believed teaching ELLs was her responsibility and she tried many strategies to meet the diverse needs of her learners. She attempted to embrace her students’ cultural differences by asking them questions about their native culture. She also chose to pair ELLs with cert...

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...r english-language learners: teacher-composed digital jumpstarts for academic reading. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53(5), 386-395.

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Sox, Amanda & Rubenstein-Avila, Eliane (2009). WebQuests for english-language learners: essential elements for design. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53(1), 38-48.

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Yoon, Bogum (2007). Offering or limiting opportunities: Teachers’ roles and approaches to english-language learners’ participation in literacy activities. The Reading Teacher, 61(3), 216-225.
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