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Practitioner Toolkit: Working With Adult English Language Learners book cover
Practitioner Toolkit: Working With Adult English Language Learners

This toolkit provides a variety of materials to help language and literacy instructors who are new to serving adults and families learning English. These materials include a first-day orientation guide, lesson plans, and research-to-practice papers on English language and literacy learning.

Promoting education and achievement of adults learning English


An Annotated Bibliography of Reading and Adult English Language Learning

Compiled by Miriam Burt, MaryAnn Cunningham Florez
Lynda Terrill, Carol Van Duzer
National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE)
June 2000

Auerbach, E., &: Paxton, D. (1997). "It's not the English thing": Bringing reading research into the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 31 (2), 237-261.
     This article reports on a research project in which learners in an undergraduate ESL reading course were trained to examine and reflect critically on their own reading. Overviews of the course design and instructional processes, the ways in which learners were involved, and their findings are all included.

Burns, A., & De Silva Joyce, H. (Eds.) (2000). Teachers' Voices 5: A new look at reading practices. Sydney: National Centre for English Language Training and Research (NCELTR).

          This book, the fifth in a series in which teachers discuss the findings of their collaborative action research, focuses on reading practices in classrooms of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in Australia. Two ethnographic projects are discussed. The project on which the first section's reports are based looks at the daily reading practices of learners and their families, including their interests, purposes for reading, and types of texts read. In the second, teachers report on their investigations of learners' perceptions of their reading and reading skills development experiences in the classroom.

Carlo, M.S., &: Skilton-Sylvester, E.E. (1996). Adult second-language reading research: How may it inform assessment and instruction? (NCAL Report TR96-08). Philadelphia: National Center on Adult Literacy (ERIC ED412373)
     The authors review the literature on how adults develop competence in reading a second-language. The research indicates that a variety of skills are involved in the reading process, including low-level processing skills (e.g., letter recognition) as well as higher level processing skills (e.g., use of reading strategies). The paper concludes by pointing out the implications that the research has for both reading instruction and assessment.

Carson, J. E., Carrell, P.L., Silberstein, S., Kroll, B., &: Kuehn, P.A. (1990). Reading-writing relationships in first and second language. TESOL Quarterly, 24 (2), 245-266.
     This article describes a study that examined the reading and writing abilities of adult ESL learners (Japanese and Chinese learners in academic settings) in their first and second languages. The investigation focused on relationships between the literacy skills in subjects' first language and literacy development in a second language.

Cho, K.S., &: Krashen, S. (1994). Acquisition of vocabulary from the Sweet Valley Kids series: Adult ESL acquisition. Journal of Reading, 37 (8), 662-667.
     A case study in which four adult female English language learners participate in a free reading program is described. The article overviews the several months the women spent reading books in the Sweet Valley series for children and adolescents, and then discusses the changes observed in the their language development and behaviors.

Constantino, R. (1994). Pleasure reading helps, even if readers don't believe it. Journal of Reading, 37 (6), 504-505.
     The author discusses the impact of participation in a pleasure reading course on the reading abilities and practices of three female English language learners in an academic setting.

Devine, J., (Ed.), et al. (1987). Research in reading in English as a second language. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (ERIC ED388113)
     This collection of essays, many with follow-up comments, examines the complexity of reading as an interactive process, including discussions of the subskills involved and the impact of reader and text variables.

Eskey, D. (1997). Models of reading and the ESOL student. Focus on Basics, 1 (B), 9-11.
     This article briefly addresses three inter-related aspects of teaching reading to ESL adults: interactive models for reading, the importance of reading in quantity, and the role of the instructor in making texts accessible to learners of many educational, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds.

Fang, Z. (1994). Priority of reading instruction revisited: Evidence from a regression analysis of adult ESL learners' reading ability. Reading Horizons, 35 (2), 1151-60.
     The project discussed in this article investigated how reading instruction that focused on fostering linguistic ability compared with instruction that focused on increasing learners' background knowledge. An integrative model, combining both approaches, is then outlined.

Gillespie, M.K. (1994). Native language literacy instruction for adults: Patterns, issues, and promises. Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education.
     This book describes the variety of programs that support native language literacy for adult learners and gives a comprehensive overview and analysis of the field. The book explains five complex reasons why programs offer native language literacy and why the field has remained marginalized. It also offers advice for improving such programs and suggests agendas for research activities that could strengthen the field. An extensive reference section is included.

Grabe, W. (1991). Current developments in second language reading research. TESOL Quarterly, 25 (3), 375-406.
     This article looks at how both research and practice in reading in a second language have changed in the last 25 years. The author reviews current literature to provide an overview of general reading theory, the reading process, component skills, and interactive approaches. He then examines second language reading specifically, looking at recent research and implications for instruction.

Hammond, J., &: Wickert, R. (1993). Pedagogical relations between ESL and adult literacy. Directions for research. Open Letter, 3 (2), 16-31.
     This article presents some of the issues and outcomes of a project that explored interrelationships between adult literacy and adult ESL instruction through literature reviews, interviews with representatives of the two fields, and case studies of current classroom practice. It discusses histories, attitudes, and expectations that impact practices in both areas and looks at commonalties, differences, and potential for collaboration between the two.

Hood, S., &: Joyce, H. (1995, July). Reading in the adult ESL curriculum and classroom. Prospect, 10 (2), 52-64.
     This article discusses the history of reading pedagogy in Australia's Adult Migrant English program since 1980. It details the shift from reading as a traditional sentence-level adjunct to phonics, spelling, and grammar to reading as a complex content-rich skill that is gaining more equal footing with communicative skills in the adult ESL classroom.

Hood, S., Solomon, N., &: Burns, B. (1996). Focus on reading: New edition. Sydney, Australia: National Center for English Language Teaching and Research. (ERIC ED411713)
     This book offers an introduction to theory and practice in teaching reading to adults, particularly adults learning English. Chapters cover such topics as reading theory, the reading needs of English language learners, program planning, text selection and use, classroom activities, and assessment.

Jones, M.L. (1996). Phonics in ESL literacy instruction: Functional or not? Paper from the proceedings of the World Conference on Literacy, Philadelphia, March 1996. 30 pps. Available from the National Center for Adult Literacy.
     This paper looks at the rationale for incorporating explicit phonics instruction in adult ESL literacy instruction. In addition to the specific rationale, the author includes an overview of English orthography, a discussion of the various perspectives on the value of teaching of spelling, and a review of a teacher research project that examined the effects of teaching phonics and spelling in an intermediate level adult ESL literacy class.

Lanteigne, B., &: Schwarzer, D. (1997). The progress of Rafael in English and family reading: A case study. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 4 (1), 36-45.
     This case study describes four aspects of a Mexican immigrant's life in a predominately Latino part of Kansas City, Kansas. The first-person report by reasearcher Betty Lanteigne offers a detailed and personal account of Rafael, a hard-working baker, community member, family man, and student. Along with other measures, the report describes Rafael and his family's progress in 'family reading' and library use over a four month period.

Perfetti, C. A., &: Marron, M.A. (1995). Learning to read: Literacy acquisition by children and adults. (An NCAL Technical Report TR95-07) Philadelphia; National Center for Adult Literacy.
     This report looks at research on reading acquisition in children and discusses its implications for adult literacy instruction. It reviews the research on how children learn to read, characteristics of low literate adults, and practices used in current adult literacy programs. The important commonalties and differences between children's and adults' reading development are highlighted throughout the text.

Purcell-Gates, V. (1997). There's reading and then there's reading: Process models and instruction. Focus on Basics, 1 (B), 5-8.
     This article reviews some of the current broad theories on the reading process, as well as their implications for adult literacy and instruction. The author discusses theories that emphasize letter and word recognition, those that emphasize comprehension, and those that integrate the two perspectives. She also looks at theories that highlight the role of social and cultural context in the reading process.

Radencich, M.C. (Ed.). (1994). Adult Literacy: A compendium of articles from the Journal of Reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
     This book presents reprints of over 45 articles from the International Reading Association's Journal of Reading (now the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy), most from approximately 1986 to 1994. The articles focus on adult literacy (many on adult ESL) and are divided into six thematic sections, each with a brief introduction that frames the issues to be addressed: theory and organizational issues, assessment, general teaching methodology, technology, tutoring, and workplace literacy

Rivera, K. (1999). Native language literacy and adult ESL instruction. ERIC Digest. Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education.
     This digest reviews recent research related to the role of native language literacy and describes program types and instructional approaches that incorporate learners' languages and instruction. The digest suggests that native language learning may facilitate becoming literate in English as well in an adult learner's first language.

Samuels, J. , &: Farstrup, A.E. (Eds.). (1992). What research has to say about reading instruction. Second edition. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. (ERIC ED340011)
     The chapters in this book discuss both the theory and the application that constitute current approaches to reading instruction. A revision of the original 1978 edition, this book looks at new topics such as text structure, metacognition, and home background, as well as assessment, whole language, fluency, comprehension, and decoding. Chapters on teaching reading to ESL learners, disabled learners, and adults are included.

Snow, C., Burns, M.S., &: Griggin, P. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
     This books reviews existing empirical literature on the development of reading in young children and presents recommendations for instruction and further research. It focuses on the prevention of reading difficulties by examining the conditions under which reading develops most easily. (While the book deals with children, points about the reading process, reading difficulties, and reading instruction may also be informative for those working with adults.)

Solórzano, R.W. (1994). Instruction and assessment for limited-English- proficient adult learners. (NCAL Report TR94-06). Philadelphia: National Center on Adult Literacy.
     This report reviews the instructional and assessment practices used to support linguistic and literacy development in adult English language learners. It looks at past practices, examines the nature and quality of instruction for English language learners, and makes recommendations for more effectively incorporating cognitive skills training and writing, as well as the cultural experiences of the learners, in language and literacy instruction.

Strucker, J. (1997). What silent reading tests alone can't tell you: Two case studies in adult reading differences. Focus on Basics, 1 (B), 13-17.
     Using two case studies, the author illustrates the variety of reading differences represented in adult learners' reading profiles. He also discusses the implications of such varied profiles for diagnostic assessment and for reading instruction.

Thuy, V.G. (1993). High-tech for effective ESL/family literacy instruction. Final report. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Education. (ERIC ED356683)
     The pilot project in this report examined the impact of incorporating computers and various software packages into the language and literacy instruction provided to several groups of adult English language learners.

Tibbetts, J., &: Klein, M. (1993). Whole language approach: Study of ABE/ESL instructor training approaches. Washington, DC: Pelavin Associates. (ERIC ED3689478)
     This training guide provides the theoretical background and practical applications of the whole language approach to learning. The guide provides all the necessary materials and rationale to allow a trainer to teach adult ABE and ESL instructors how to teach literacy skills using this approach.

Tse, L. (1996). When an ESL adult becomes a reader. Reading Horizons, 37 (1), 16-29.
     The author of this article presents a case study project that examined the effects of an extensive reading program on an adult English language learner. The learner's reactions to the program and general implications for teaching reading and writing to adults are discussed.

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