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Teaching Reading to English Language Learners Insights from Linguistics



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This is the 1st edition with a publication date of 11/20/2009.

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Written specifically for K–12 educators, this accessible book explains the processes involved in second-language acquisition and provides a wealth of practical strategies for helping English language learners (ELLs) succeed at reading. The authors integrate knowledge from two fields that often remain disconnected—linguistics and literacy—with a focus on what works in the classroom. Teachers learn effective practices for supporting students as they build core competencies not just for reading in English, but also for listening, speaking, and writing. Engaging vignettes and examples illustrate ways to promote ELLs’ communicative skills across the content areas and in formal and informal settings.

Author Biography

Kristin Lems, EdD, is Professor in the ESL/Bilingual Education Program at National-Louis University, where she directed a 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education in ESL teacher education in DuPage County, Illinois. She pursued her twin interests in reading and ESL through a doctorate in reading and language from National College of Education and a master’s degree in TESOL from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Her doctoral dissertation on adult ESL oral reading fluency won a finalist award from the International Reading Association for Outstanding Dissertation of the Year. Dr. Lems spent 2 years as a Fulbright Scholar in Algeria doing inservice training of postsecondary EFL teachers, and wrote a book on ESL/EFL methods for the Peace Corps. Her coedited book, [i]Fluency Instruction: Research-Based Best Practices[/i], with Timothy Rasinski and Camille Blachowicz, was a finalist for the Frye Book Award of the National Reading Conference. Dr. Lems consults on reading and ESL in the Chicago Public Schools. She is also a professional folk singer and sings for children in schools and libraries in several languages, including Farsi, which she learned teaching in Iran.


Leah D. Miller, MA, is Assistant Professor in the ESL/Bilingual Education Program at National-Louis University, and also teaches graduate linguistics courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has served as coordinator of the ESL/Bilingual Education Program at National-Louis University for the past decade and has taught all of the courses in the program. In addition to doctoral coursework in linguistics at Northwestern University, Ms. Miller has a master’s degree in TESOL from Southern Illinois University. She is on the board of Illinois TESOL/BE, where she heads its Awards Committee, and serves as a consultant on issues related to ELL assessment and the WIDA standards. She has presented at TESOL conventions and meetings of the American Educational Research Association, the American Association for Applied Linguistics, the National Council of Teachers of English, and other prestigious venues. She has a keen interest in content-area ESL and linguistics, and, with Kristin Lems, codirected a Department of Education grant in ESL teacher education. Besides reading research, Ms. Miller’s passions include spending time with four adopted grandchildren and Jervis the cat, and reading dictionaries.


Tenena M. Soro, PhD, teaches courses in linguistics, cross-cultural education, foundations, and reading for the ESL/Bilingual Education Program at National-Louis University. He has also taught courses in ethics and philosophy, linguistics, and social science at Columbia College, Northeastern Illinois University, and Northwestern University. He has a doctorate in linguistics and a Graduate Certificate in African Studies from Northwestern University, in addition to two undergraduate degrees from Université d’Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Dr. Soro’s dissertation included a linguistic analysis of his native language, Cebaari, and he is proficient in six additional languages. He has presented on linguistics and ESL topics at state and national conferences, including TESOL and the American Educational Research Association, and in 2008 he received the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award from National-Louis University. In addition to teaching, he is a serious student of yoga and meditation.

Table of Contents

1. Big Ideas and Research That Guide the Profession 2. First-Language Influence in Second-Language Acquisition 3. ELL Oracy: Listening Comprehension and Oral Language Development 4. Learning to Read, Write, and Spell Words in English as a New Language 5. Using Morphemes to Learn Vocabulary 6. Word Formation Processes, Cognates, and Collocations 7. “The Same, but Different”: Reading Fluency in English as a New Language 8. Achieving Comprehension in L2 English Reading 9. Writing to Learn in English across the Curriculum Glossary

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