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Understanding Reading Development in Second Language Learners


Project Leader
Jared, Debra   

Many children in Canada are learning to read in their second language, either because their families are relatively recent arrivals in Canada and they speak a language other than English at home, or because they are enrolled in French Immersion. However, most research on how children learn to read has focused on monolingual readers. It is important to better understand the reading acquisition process in second language children so that these children may be helped to develop the high level of literacy that is needed to succeed both at school and in the workplace. This research will study the development of reading fluency in both English as a Second Language (ESL) students and French Immersion students. No other research compares the acquisition of reading in these two language-learning situations. As well, most research on reading acquisition follows students for one or two years whereas this study will follow students for up to 6 years. This will allow the researchers to follow the development of second language learnersí literacy skills until they become reasonably fluent in their second language. The research program will address several issues related to learning to read in a second language. One issue concerns the nature of the relationship between fluency in the second language and reading skill acquisition in the second language. A second issue concerns whether tests that can be given in kindergarten, before reading instruction begins, can be useful to identify children who are likely to have difficulty learning to read in their second language. A third issue concerns whether bilingual readers read less in each of their languages than monolingual readers and, if so, whether this has any consequences for the development of fluency in reading each language. A final question is whether a bilingual readerís languages interact in reading. There may be both interference and facilitation from knowledge of another language, and these influences may change over time. Outcomes of this research will provide educators with information that will be helpful in making decisions regarding reading instruction for second language learners.

LAST MODIFIED: February 06 2004 13:25:35

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