Sunday, February 15, 2015

Reading Instruction Intervention for ELL struggling readers

Kai Yung Tam, William L. Heward, Mary Ann Heng explored various reading interventions with English Language Learners (ELLs) and reported on it in their article, A Reading Instruction Intervention Program for English-Language Learners Who are Struggling Readers, published in The Journal of Special Education, 2006, 40(2). Five elementary ELLs, 2 identified with learning disabilities, 1 with a developmental disability, and 1 with ADHD, were selected because they were struggling learners. The pupils were all at a level 2 which is described below:

  1. The pupil understands and speaks conversational and academic English with hesitancy and difficulty.  
  2. The pupil understands parts of lessons and simple directions. 
  3. The pupil is at a pre-emergent or emergent level of reading and writing in English, significantly below grade level.   Government proficiency levels

One-on-one sessions were approximately 35 minutes long. The authors had two main interventions they compared: new passage each session and same passage to criterion. Both conditions had vocabulary instruction (5-6 words from the passage to be read), initial untimed reading with error drill correction, two additional readings and then a timed reading. After the first reading five comprehension questions were asked. After each subsequent reading incorrectly answered comprehension questions were again posed. In the new passage trials, each day a new passage was addressed, in the same passage criterion the passage was reread until a set words per minute was achieved. Generalization and maintenance probes were administered daily.

Under both conditions, students increased the number of words per minute read and the number of correct literal questions answered. The researchers found that immediate error correction, regardless of whether the misread impacted meaning, resulted in improved reading rate and comprehension. Student performance increased the most under the passage against criterion condition.

For ELLs error correction may have been particularly helpful for building language skills. Providing vocabulary instruction, in and of itself, is likely to increase the comprehension questions. Unfortunately there was no condition with merely providing vocabulary instruction. It does seem that high quality reading instruction that includes vocabulary instruction, phrase error drill, and repeated reading is effective for improving reading skills in ELLs. This research was supported with older students with Kelly Morisoli's study Effects of Repeated Reading on Reading Fluency of Diverse Secondary-Level Learners (2010) published as a dissertation from the University of Arizona.

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