March 29, 2021

English Learners (ELs) are Best Served by Research on ELs, not Reading Wars

As various states, including California, Colorado and Tennessee, move new state reading and literacy policies forward, we at SEAL are noticing a trend that concerns us deeply. There is an overemphasis on a standardized, universal approach to English literacy teaching, especially reading instruction, that is based primarily on some of the research and history of teaching English reading to monolingual English speakers. While there is overlap in “what works” for monolingual English speakers as well as for English Learners, there are also unique differences for English Learners or ELs, who themselves are not a monolithic group. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past by assuming that good instruction for some students translates to good instruction for all students, and ignoring the unique biliteracy needs and linguistic assets of ELs.