All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Text Size: A A A  
Hot Topics in Adolescent Literacy

English Language Learners

The population of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. public schools is growing quickly. This section includes information on effective ways to teach ELL (also called ESL) students , methods for encouraging learning, and ways to promote family involvement. Please also visit our sister website Colorín Colorado, which focuses exclusively on ELLs.

 

Sort by: Date Title

A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School

Copyright 2007 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Used with permission. Olson, C.B. and Land, R. (2007). A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School. Research in the Teaching of English, 41(3), http://www.ncte.org/pubs/journals/rte/articles/126617.htm.

Cognitive strategies, such as predicting, summarizing, and reflecting — strategies used by experienced readers and writers — are vital to the development of academic literacy, but these strategies are too rarely taught explicitly, especially to English Language Learners (ELLs). This study reports the results of a California Writing Project study in which 55 teachers implemented a cognitive-strategies approach to reading and writing instruction for their ELL secondary students over an eight-year period and includes a detailed description of a teacher's cognitive strategies "tool kit."

Academic Language: Everyone's "Second" Language

Being able to speak English fluently does not guarantee that a student will be able to use language effectively in academic settings. Fluency must be combined with higher order thinking skills to create an "academic language," which allows students to effectively present their ideas in a way that others will take seriously. The author, an ELL teacher, describes her use of "protocols" (a cheat sheet of sentence starters) to build students' cognitive academic language proficiency.

Accessing Students' Background Knowledge in the ELL Classroom

As you teach content areas to ELLs of diverse backgrounds, you may find that they struggle to grasp the content, and that they approach the content from very different perspectives. Drawing on your students' background knowledge and experiences can be an effective way to bridge those gaps and make content more accessible. This article offers a number of suggestions to classroom teachers as they find ways to tap into the background knowledge that students bring with them.

Building Trust with Schools and Diverse Families

While increased family involvement is linked to improved student performance, it is not always fully understood and examined within schools. Different types of involvement may include parenting, communicating with schools, volunteering at schools, supporting learning at home, participating in school governance and decision-making, and taking part in school-community collaborations. In order to encourage and foster this comprehensive involvement with all families, school administrators and teachers must develop mutual trust, consider the different cultural attitudes some families may have towards schooling, and be diligent in reaching out.

Communication Strategies for All Classrooms: Focusing on English Language Learners and Students with Learning Disabilities

Concrete suggestions for teachers who want to communicate well with all of their students, especially English language learners and students with learning disabilities.

Creating a College-Going Culture for English Language Learners

Some English language learners may not know what to expect from the college application process. Others don't start thinking about college until their junior or senior year. One way to ensure that students are prepared to apply for college is to create a college-going culture in your school and across your district.

Creating a Welcoming Classroom Environment

On a daily basis, ELLs are adjusting to new ways of saying and doing things. As their teacher, you are an important bridge to this unknown culture and school system. There are a number of things you can do to help make ELLs' transitions as smooth as possible.

Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners

Short, D., & Fitzsimmons, S. (2007). Double the Work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners– A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Adolescent English Language Learners (ELLs), who must simultaneously learn English and age–appropriate subject material, perform double the work of their native language peers because they are held to the same grade-level standards for academic literacy. Moreover, the ELL population is comprised of a diverse range of learners who vary dramatically in their existing literacy levels, native languages, and cultural and educational backgrounds. This report is the effort of a panel of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to address six main challenges to improving academic literacy among ELLs, as well as proposed solutions and policy implications.

Extra Support for Adolescent ELLs

Before- and after-school programs can play an important role in ELLs' success by providing a place and time for homework, extra academic support, and enrichment activities. These programs are particularly helpful for older students who may not have access to academic resources or help at home, or those with responsibilities such as working or caring for younger siblings. Learn more about the elements of an effective before- and after-school program for ELLs from this excerpt of Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners: Essential Strategies for Middle and High School (Caslon Publishing, 2010).

Getting Ready for College: What ELL Students Need to Know

For ELLs, the challenges of going to college and finding the right opportunities can be overwhelming, but ELL teachers can play an important role helping students apply to college and preparing for the application process as well. This month's Bright Ideas article offers some great ideas for ways that you can support ELL students as they consider their future plans.

High-Achieving Middle Schools for Latino Students in Poverty

What are the characteristics of middle schools in which Latino students from low-income families make substantial achievement gains?

Hooking Reluctant ELL Readers

In this excerpt from her essay "Literacy Development for Latino Students," published in The Best for Our Children: Critical Perspectives on Literacy for Latino Students, Teacher's College Press, the author describes the reading program she uses to take her reluctant readers from dreading the library to not wanting to put a book down.

Improving Literacy Outcomes for ELLs in High School: Considerations for States and Districts in Developing a Coherent Policy Framework

Torgesen, J. K., Houston, D. D., Rissman, L. M., Decker, S. M., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J. Francis, D. J, Rivera, M. O., Lesaux, N. (2007). Academic literacy instruction for adolescents: A guidance document from the Center on Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

This overview from the National High School Center examines the roles of states and school districts in supporting English Language Learners. Among the key findings — ELL students who access accelerated and enriching academics rather than remediation, succeed at higher levels, and Latino ELL students are overrepresented in special education. To build the capacity of teachers to appropriately identify which ELL students would benefit from special education services and which would benefit from more inclusive strategies, states must be explicit about what is expected of professional development and teacher preparedness.

Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation

National Women's Law Center and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (2009). Listening to Latinas: barriers to high school graduation. Washington, DC: Author.

Latinas are dropping out of school in alarming numbers. Forty-one percent of Latina students do not graduate with their class in four years—if they graduate at all. Many Latina students face challenges related to poverty, immigration status, limited English proficiency, and damaging gender and ethnic stereotypes. And the high teen pregnancy rate for Latinas — the highest of any ethnic group — reflects and reinforces the barriers they face.

Measures of Change: The Demography and Literacy of Adolescent English Learners

Batalova, J., Fix M., and Murray, J. (2007). Measures of Change: The Demography and Literacy of Adolescent English Learners—A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

This report from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Migration Policy Institute answers the following questions: Who are immigrant students and students who do not speak English well? Where are they from? What is their family background (social, economic, linguistic, etc.)? How well do they do in school? Do their literacy levels prepare them to take part in higher education and a skilled workforce?

Phonics Instruction for Middle and High School ELLs

While it may seem the most expedient solution, it is not appropriate to put an older ELL student in a lower grade to receive the appropriate reading instruction. Age-appropriate activities integrated with academic content give older students the opportunity to make progress as readers.

Pre-Reading Activities for ELLs

Pre-reading activities can engage student interest, activate prior knowledge, or pre-teach potentially difficult concepts and vocabulary. They also offer a great opportunity to introduce comprehension components such as cause and effect, compare and contrast, personification, main idea, and sequencing.

Reading Comprehension Strategies for English Language Learners

Explicit teaching of reading comprehension skills will help English Language Learners apply these strategies to all subject matter.

Serving Recent Immigrant Students Through School-Community Partnerships

How do district and school partnerships with community-based organizations help schools better meet the needs of recent immigrant students? This article provides some examples of promising strategies in which community-based organizations and districts work together to address linguistic and cultural differences, help newcomers gain new language skills and catch up academically with their peers, and provide educational and social support to immigrant families.

Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences with Bilingual Families

How can you hold an effective parent-teacher conference with the parents of English language learners if they can't communicate comfortably in English? This article provides a number of tips to help you bridge the language gap, take cultural expectations about education into account, and provide your students' parents with the information they need about their children's progress in school.

Time is Not on Our Side: Literacy and Literature for High School Language Learners

Given that teachers often have too much to teach and too little time, teacher Dana Dusbiber suggests an alternative approach to teaching literature for secondary ELLs: the introduction of more multicultural literature in the classroom.

Urgent but Overlooked: The Literacy Crisis Among Adolescent English Language Learners

English language learners (ELLs) represent more than 10% of the national pre-K through 12th grade enrollment, and more than 70% of these ELLs fail to develop strong literacy skills. To increase this group's educational, college, and job opportunities, policymakers must address the unique ELL literacy questions.

What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners?

In this article, a seasoned ELL teacher synthesizes her own classroom experience and the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth to make recommendations for effective literacy instruction of ELL students.

When ELLs Struggle: Recognizing the Signs

When working with struggling English language learners (ELLs), it's important to note that there are similarities among linguistic, cultural, and learning disability explanations for behaviors demonstrated by ELLs. This article can be used as a starting point for conversations regarding diverse learners who are struggling.


« See all Hot Topics in Adolescent Literacy

ADVERTISEMENT