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When literacy ate language: An analysis of a research-based literacy intervention for designated English Learners

Written by: Trish Morita-Mullaney, Fang Gao, Rong Zhang
Published on: May 29, 2023

LiteracyPhoto credit: SecondSide/Adobe Stock

Scripted literacy programs are frequently used with designated English learners (ELs) as an intervention to address below–grade-level reading comprehension. Most literacy programs lack an explicit focus on oral language, vocabulary in use, and immersive writing, needed areas to improve reading comprehension and English proficiency among designated ELs. Literacy interventions often work in tandem with English as a second language (ESL) instructional delivery or as a substitute and are staffed with personnel trained in reading interventions, but do not necessarily involve the principles of English language development or multilingualism. In this case study, the researchers examine a literacy intervention and how it is interpreted and implemented by elementary reading specialists. Findings demonstrate that reading teachers following the literacy intervention protocol fostered oral language and vocabulary, yet the emphasis was on reading, with very little time focused on writing. Implications point to the need for reading programs to conceptualize their teaching within a framework of English language development and multilingualism, instead of defaulting to reading interventions alone. A mapping in collaboration with general education, ESL, and reading teachers is needed to foster congruence across literacy and language learning. The authors call upon stakeholders implementing literacy programs to conceptualize multilingual language and literacy resources that encompass oral language, vocabulary, and immersive writing.

 Read the full text on Wiley Online Library

 TESOL Journal