English Language Learners and Reading Difficulties
When a preschool child's home language is not primarily English, the ease of learning to read printed English is likely to be impeded to some extent, particularly if reading instruction in English begins before the child has acquired oral proficiency in English (see August and Hakuta, 1997).
One difficulty in trying to evaluate the degree of risk associated with limited English proficiency is that cultural as well as linguistic differences are also involved and may introduce other kinds of risk factors.
Many Hispanic children with limited English proficiency also have in common that their parents are poorly educated, that their family income is low, that they reside in communities in which many families are similarly struggling, and that they attend schools with student bodies that are predominantly minority and low achieving.
Not surprisingly, the other factors that have been proposed to explain the typically low levels of academic achievement among Hispanic students include many that have been cited as contributing to the risk factors facing other minority groups, including low socioeconomic status (and its many concomitant conditions), cultural differences between the home and school (e.g., regarding educational values and expectations), sociopolitical factors (including past and ongoing discrimination and low perceived opportunities for minorities), and school quality.
In summary, low English proficiency in a Hispanic child is a strong indication that the child is at risk for reading difficulty. That low reading achievement is a widespread problem among Hispanic students even when they are instructed and tested in Spanish, however, indicates that linguistic differences are not solely responsible for the high degree of risk faced by these children and that the role of co-occurring group risk factors, particularly school quality, home literacy background, and socioeconomic status, must be considered.
Click the "References" link above to hide these references.
Alexander, K., and D. Entwisle. (1996). Schools and children at risk. pp. 67-88 in Family-School Links: How Do They Affect Educational Outcomes?, A. Booth and J. Dunn, eds. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Alwin, D.F., and A. Thornton. (1984). Family origins and the schooling process: Early versus late influence of parental characteristics. American Sociological Review 49:784-802.
August, D., and K. Hakuta, eds. (1997). Improving Schooling for Language-Minority Children: A Research Agenda. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Bryk, A.S., and S.W. Raudenbush. (1987). Application of hierarchical linear models to assessing change. Psychological Bulletin 101(1):147-158.
Bus, A.G., M.H. van IJzendoorn, and A.D. Pellegrini. (1995). Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. Review of Educational Research 65(1):1-21.
DeBaryshe, B.D. (1993). Joint picture-book reading correlates of early oral language skill. Journal of Child Language 20(2):455-461.
DeBaryshe, B.D., M.B. Caulfield, J.P. Witty, J. Sidden, H.E. Holt, and C.E. Reich. (1991). The Ecology of Young Children's Home Reading Environments. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, April 18-21, 1991, Seattle.
Elbro, C., I. Borstrom, and D.K. Petersen. (1996). Predicting Dyslexia from Kindergarten: The Importance of Distinctness of Phonological Representations of Lexical Items. Unpublished paper.
Entwisle, D.R., and N.M. Astone. (1994). Some practical guidelines for measuring youth's race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Child Development 65(6):1521-1540.
Estrada, P., W.F. Arsenio, R.D. Hess, and S.D. Holloway. (1987). Affective quality of the mother-child relationship: Longitudinal consequences for children's school-relevant cognitive functioning. Developmental Psychology 23(2): 210-215.
Finucci, J.M., L. Gottfredson, and B. Childs. (1985). A follow-up study of dyslexic boys. Annals of Dyslexia 35:117-136.
Finucci, J.M., J.T. Guthrie, A.L. Childs, H. Abbey, and B. Childs. (1976). The genetics of specific reading disability. Annals of Human Genetics 40:1-23.
Fowler, M.G., and A.W. Cross. (1986). Preschool risk factors as predictors of early school performance. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 7(4):237-241.
Galton, F. (1874). English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture. London: MacMillan.
Gilger, J.W., B.F. Pennington, and J.C. DeFries. (1991). Risk for reading disability as a function of family history in three family studies. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 3:205-217.
Hallgren, B. (1950). Specific dyslexia: A clinical and genetic study. Acta Psychiatr Neuro Scan 65(Suppl): 179-189.
Hart, B., and T.R. Risley. (1995). Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Hess, R.D., and S. Holloway. (1984). Family and school as educational institutions. Pp. 179-222 in Review of Child Development Research, 7: The Family, R.D. Parke, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Horn, W.F., and J.P. O'Donnell. (1984). Early identification of learning disabilities: A comparison of two methods. Journal of Educational Psychology 76(6):1106-1118.
Labov, W. (1966). Some sources of reading problems. Pp. 140-167 in New Directions in Elementary English, A. Frazier, ed. Champaign, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
Mason, J. (1980). When do children begin to read: An exploration of four year old children's letter and word reading competencies. Reading Research Quarterly 15:203-227.
Mason, J., and D. Dunning. (1980). Toward a Model Relating Home Literacy with Beginning Reading. Paper presented to the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.
Pungello, E.P., J.B. Kupersmidt, and M.R. Burchinal. (1996). Environmental risk factors and children's achievement from middle childhood to early adolescence. Developmental Psychology 32(4):755-767.
Richman, N., J. Stevenson, and P.J. Graham. (1982). Pre-school to school: A behavioural study. Behavioural Development: A Series of Monographs. London: Hospital for Sick Children.
Rowe, K.J. (1991). The influence of reading activity at home on students' attitudes towards reading, classroom attentiveness and reading achievement: An application of structural equation modelling. British Journal of Educational Psychology 61(1):.
Scarborough, H.S. (1989). Prediction of reading disability from familial and individual differences. Journal of Educational Psychology 81(1):101-108.
Scarborough, H.S. (1990). Very early language deficits in dyslexic children. Child Development 61:1728-1743.
Scarborough, H.S. (1991). Early syntactic development of dyslexic children. Annals of Dyslexia 41:207-220.
Scarborough, H.S. (1998). Early identification of children at risk for reading disabilities: Phonological awareness and some other promising predictors. Pp. 77-121 in Specific Reading Disability: A View of the Spectrum, B.K. Shapiro, P.J. Accardo, and A.J. Capute, eds. Timonium, MD: York Press.
Scarborough, H.S., and W. Dobrich. (1994). On the efficacy of reading to preschoolers. Developmental Review 14:245-302.
Scarborough, H.S., W. Dobrich, and M. Hager. (1991). Preschool literacy experience and later reading achievement. Journal of Learning Disabilities 24(8):508-511.
Share, D.L., A.F. Jorm, R. Maclean, and R. Matthews. (1984). Sources of individual differences in reading acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology 76(6):1309-1324.
Smitherman, G. (1977). Black English and the Education of Black Children and Youth. Proceedings of the National Invitational Symposium on the KING Decision. Detroit: Center for Black Studies, Wayne State University.
Thomas, B. (1984). Early toy preferences of four-year-old readers and nonreaders. Child Development 55:424-430.
Vogler, G.P., J.C. DeFries, and S.N. Decker. (1985). Family history as an indicator of risk for reading disability. Journal of Learning Disabilities 18:419-421.
Walberg, H.J., and S. Tsai. (1984). Reading achievement and diminishing returns to time. Journal of Educational Psychology 76(3):442-451.
Walberg, H.J., and S. Tsai. (1985). Correlates of reading achievement and attitude: A national assessment study. Journal of Educational Research 78(3):159-167.
Wells, C.G. (1985). Preschool literacy-related activities and success in school. In Literacy, Language, and Learning, D. Olson, M. Torrance, and A. Hildyard, eds. London: Cambridge University Press.
White, K.R. (1982). The relation between socioeconomic status and academic achievement. Psychological Bulletin 91:461-481.
Wolfram, W. (1991). Bidialect Literacy in the United States. ERIC Clearinghouse No. FL800344.