English language learners (ELLs) are among the most academically at-risk groups in our schools today and their numbers will rise steadily in the near future. On average, ELL students receive lower grades, score below their classmates on standardized reading and mathematics tests, and are often judged by their teachers as academic "underachievers." The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review focuses on interventions designed to improve the English language literacy and/or academic achievement of elementary school students who are English language learner.
This WWC review focuses on ELL elementary school students, meaning the intervention is offered to students in K-6 classrooms. In addition, curricula are being characterized based on whether they target special subpopulations of children (e.g., learning disabled, language impaired, ESL). The review could include studies in which students may no longer be considered limited English proficient by the school, but where students still possess limited English language skills. Students who no longer are considered limited English proficient, but who were considered ELL in the preceding two school years, often possess limited English language proficiency. Therefore, findings for such students are of high value for teachers and administrators.
Only research on interventions that are replicable (i.e., documented well enough that they can be reproduced, which are generally materials-based designed for a specific sub-population of ELLs) will be reviewed. Studies that compare differing languages of instruction (e.g. teaching first graders in Spanish vs. English) were excluded. Furthermore, the review excluded studies where all instruction is conducted in a students' native language. The purpose of this review is to determine which approaches for teaching academics to second language learners are effective. A study of teaching reading or mathematics in a students' native language is a legitimate mathematics or reading study, but does not provide information on how to deal with the challenging task of teaching academic material to students using a language that they have not yet mastered. Should a study provide evidence about the merits of a broad theory for language acquisition and not offer information on a curriculum that can be used in today's schools, the study will be considered as outside the scope of the review.
(Read the Intervention Reports: http://ies.ed.gov//ncee/projects/wwc/english_language.asp)
Intervention: Instructional Conversations and Literature Logs | October 26, 2006_Developer: William Saunders and Claude Goldenberg, published by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE)_The goal of Instructional Conversations is to help English language learners develop reading comprehension ability along with English language proficiency. Instructional Conversations are small-group discussions. Acting as facilitators, teachers engage English language learners in discussions about stories, key concepts, and related personal experiences, which allow them to appreciate and build on each others' experiences, knowledge, and understanding. Literature Logs require English language learners to write in a log in response to writing prompts or questions related to sections of stories. These responses are then shared in small groups or with a partner.
Intervention: Vocabulary Improvement Program for English Language Learners & Their Classmates | October 19, 2006_The Vocabulary Improvement Program for English Language Learners and Their Classmates (VIP) is a vocabulary development curriculum for English language learners and native English speakers (grades 4-6). The 15-week program includes 30-45 minute whole class and small group activities, which aim to increase students' understanding of target vocabulary words included in a weekly reading assignment
Intervention: Read Naturally | October 5, 2006_Read Naturally is designed to improve reading fluency using a combination of books, audio-tapes, and computer software. This program includes three main strategies: repeated reading of English text for oral reading fluency development, teacher modeling of story reading, and systematic monitoring of student progress by teachers. Students work at a reading level appropriate for their achievement level, progress through the program at their own rate, and work, for the most part, on an independent basis. The Read Naturally strategy is designed to increase time spent reading by combining teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring._Read the Intervention Report.
Intervention: Enhanced Proactive Reading | September 28, 2006_Enhanced Proactive Reading, a comprehensive, integrated reading, language arts, and English language development curriculum, is targeted to first-grade English language learners experiencing problems with learning to read through conventional instruction. The curriculum is implemented as small group daily reading instruction, during which English Language Learners instructors provide opportunities for participation from all students and give feedback for student responses.
Intervention: Fast ForWord Language | September 28, 2006_Fast ForWord Language is a computer-based instructional program developed to build cognitive skills students need to improve English language proficiency and reading skill. It consists of seven game-like exercises, including nonverbal and verbal sound discrimination, phonological processing, vocabulary recognition, and language comprehension. Each exercise begins with basic skills and builds up to more complex skills. The difficulty of each task is continuously adapted so that students would get about 80% of the items correct.
Intervention: Reading Mastery / SRA / McGraw-Hill | September 28, 2006_Reading Mastery is a direct instruction program designed to provide explicit, systematic instruction in English language reading. Reading Mastery is available in two versions, Reading Mastery Classic levels I and II (for use in grades K-3) and Reading Mastery Plus, an integrated reading-language program for grades K-6. The program begins by teaching phonemic awareness and sound-letter correspondence and moves into word and passage reading, vocabulary development, comprehension, and building oral reading fluency. Later lessons continue to emphasize accurate and fluent decoding while teaching students the skills necessary to read and comprehend and to learn from expository text. Lessons are designed to be fast-paced and interactive. Students are grouped by similar reading level, based on program placement tests. The program includes placement assessments and a continuous monitoring system.
Intervention: Read Well | September 21, 2006_Read Well is a research-based reading curriculum designed to improve student literacy. This program includes explicit, systematic instruction in English decoding, sustained practice of decoding skills and fluency, and instruction in vocabulary and concepts presented in text. It also provides support for English language learner (ELL) students through scaffolded lesson instruction and oral language priming activities._Read the Intervention Report.
Intervention: Arthur | September 14, 2006_Developer: WGBH Boston and Cookie Jar Education, Inc. Arthur, a book-based educational television program designed for children ages 4-8, is popular among preschool and kindergarten students. The program is based on the storybooks, by Marc Brown, about Arthur, an 8-year-old aardvark. Each show is 30 minutes in length and includes two stories involving characters dealing with moral issues. The show has been used as a listening comprehension and language development intervention for English language learning students.