In the last few weeks I have found more recent and relevant research to support my driving question. There have been many researchers who have focused on English Language Learners and their language acquisition in their L2 (Second language), but I have found some research that supports there IS a connection with English Language Learners who struggle with English oral language acquisition and decoding and reading comprehension.
Since 2000, several U.S. studies have reported that explicit reading instruction with a focus on reading sub-skills is effective for both native speakers of English and students learning to speak English (Fitzgerald & Noblit, 1999, 2000; Gersten & Baker, 2003; Gunn, Biglan, Smolkowski, & Ary, 2000; Haager & Windmueller, 2001; Linan-Thompson, Vaughn, Hickman-Davis, & Kouzekanani, 2003; National Reading Panel, 2000; Weber & LonghiChirlin, 2001).
The first research study I looked at was conducted in 2006 and focused on the Effectiveness of an English Intervention for First-Grade English Language Learners at Risk for Reading Problems. This research wanted to know if struggling readers who were native Spanish speakers but learning to read in English made greater growth in reading and language when participating in intense, small-group reading interventions in addition to their core reading instruction in English. (Vaughn et al., 2006). This research study aimed to determine the effectiveness of what we in California, and in NVUSD call Designated ELD. A state-mandated, protected time where ELLs get explicit instruction in the language function of English. This lends itself nicely to the work I am currently focused on, which is facilitating the work of our K-5 ELA/ELD Leads in a protocol called ELL Shadowing (Soto, 2009). This allows us to focus on one student's listening and speaking for several hours, in order for us to better understand how we can support that student's language acquisition and in turn support their reading comprehension skills.
This 2006 research recognized that students could learn to master the code in English with intensive intervention but might not make adequate progress in comprehension unless we aligned the intervention with current research on developing vocabulary and comprehension skills. (Vaughn et al., 2006). This highlights much of the research I have found that when explicitly teaching phonics and word study it needs to be in a connected text. One, ideally, that has some developing vocabulary and allows for focus on comprehension skills. This would happen within a small group setting, and be support again in Designated ELD to give these ELLs another support with language.
In an effort to better understand the KEY elements that make-up an effective intervention for ELLs I dug deeper into Gersten and Geva's 2003 research. Their intervention highlighted 6 instructional practices in reading that are effective for beginning readers: (a) explicit teaching, (b) promotion of English language learning, (c) phonemic awareness and decoding, (d) vocabulary development, (e) interactive teaching that maximizes student engagement, and (f) instruction that produces opportunities for accurate responses with feedback for struggling learners. (Gersten & Geva, 2003). This supports what instructional elements are needed to make interventions successful with ELLs. They ideally have CORE ELA time, small group instruction time focused on the above, and then Designated ELD time where they focus on language function and reinforce the skills that were taught during whole and small group instruction.
Now, I look forward to incorporating this into my research paper as fodder for the importance of this work.
International, National, State, District Funnel for Focus Question: