Effective Literacy Strategies for English Language Learners

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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
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She did this based on a belief that it would help ELLs and non-ELLs alike. The students in the second class reported that classmates were “friendly and nice” and the teacher “likes other cultures.” The results of this study indicate the very important role that a teacher plays in creating and modeling an atmosphere where ELLs are accepted, encouraged and participatory in a learning community. Next, the topic of Primary Discourse was investigated in a research article by Mays (2008). Mays articulates that the discourse, or language used in the curriculums and assessments, is so different from the primary discourse that young learners have been exposed to, that minority and ELL students are overrepresented in “at-risk,” “developmentally delayed,” and “not ready to learn” groups. Being put in these groups puts that at a disadvantage in acquiring literacy skills. Mays cited “Discourses (capital “D”) are ways of combining and coordinating words, deeds, thoughts, values, bodies, objects, tools, and technologies, and other people (at the appropriate time and places) so as to enact and recognize the specific socially situated identities and activities. (Gee, 2001, p.71) Many teachers use curriculums that were designed from a “white, middle class, ‘mainstream’ model” and this creates challenges for ELLs from diverse backgrounds to achieve success. The role of the teacher becomes essential and powerful in this
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