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Enhancing Oral and Literate Skills for At-Risk ELL Children. March 16, 2012 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association San Jose, California. Presenters. Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, Ph.D. CCC-SLP Professor, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

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enhancing oral and literate skills for at risk ell children

Enhancing Oral and Literate Skills for At-Risk ELL Children

March 16, 2012

California Speech-Language-Hearing Association

San Jose, California


Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, Ph.D. CCC-SLP

Professor, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

California State University, Sacramento

LSHS, San Juan Unified School District

Robert A. Pieretti, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Assistant Professor, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

California State University, Sacramento

LSHS, Sacramento City Unified School District


Ploua Vue. B.S.

Graduate Student, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

California State University, Sacramento

Mary Martineau. B.S.

Graduate Student, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

California State University, Sacramento

full presentation available
Full presentation available:
  • www.hhs.csus.edu/homepages/SPA/Roseberry
  • Click on Workshops
  • Follow the link to this handout
workshop objectives participants will
Workshop Objectives; participants will:

1. Discuss laws impacting service delivery

2. Describe the impact of ELL status on students with LLD (language learning disabilities)

3. Describe general intervention strategies that can be used to increase language skills across settings

4. Discuss how to tie therapy into the general education curriculum

5. Identify practical strategies for increasing the oral and literate language skills of preschool and early elementary school students

6. Summarize ideas for helping increase family involvement

7. Define and discuss Response to Intervention



At the first author’s previous school, we had a great deal of diversity; 91% of our students were students of color; 9% were White. Many came from welfare homes. The school has 900-1000 students.

in elk grove unified school district as a whole
In Elk Grove Unified School District as a whole…
  • Children represent between 80-90 different language groups
  • They come from all over the world.
  • Sacramento, California and New York have the largest numbers of immigrants from the former USSR in the entire United States
thus it is the overall goal of this workshop to present ideas and strategies that are
Thus, it is the overall goal of this workshop to present ideas and strategies that are:
  • widely applicable to ELL students from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds in both Special Education and RtI settings
  • useable by monolingual English-speaking clinicians as well as bilingual clinicians, and
  • easy, inexpensive, and fun to implement!
as much as possible the ideas presented will be
As much as possible, the ideas presented will be:
  • Practical for use on “Monday morning”
  • Useful for tying in with the general curriculum of the school
  • Representative of evidence-based practice
the ideas presented will be applicable to a range of settings including
The ideas presented will be applicable to a range of settings, including:
  • Speech-language therapy pull-out rooms
  • Self-contained special education classrooms
  • General education classrooms
the ideas can be used with
The ideas can be used with…
  • Young ELLs who are at risk for a diagnosis of LLD
  • Young ELLs who already have IEPs because they have been diagnosed with a LLD
you are encouraged to
You are encouraged to:
  • Share these ideas with general education teachers as much as possible
  • Help general education teachers to understand that the more they help us implement the ideas presented, the faster our students will progress!
ii language learning disabilities in ell students

Legal Considerations

  • The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004) states that students who speak a second language must be assessed in both the primary (first) language and English
  • These students must show delays in BOTH the primary language and English in order to be diagnosed as having LLD (language-learning disability).
  • An ELL student has a true LLD if he experiences difficulties learning in BOTH languages
  • A LLD affects the student’s ability to learn any language
The student with age-appropriate L1 skills and low scores in English is NOT LLD and is not a candidate for special education (Roseberry-McKibbin, 2008; Kohnert, 2008).
  • We must make teachers and administrators aware of the difference between a student with normal underlying language learning ability who needs more time and exposure to English (non special education) and the student who is truly LLD (qualifies for special education).
there is increased focus on diverse students in our schools
There is increased focus on diverse students in our schools…
  • English language learners now represent 9.6% of all students enrolled in public pre-kindergarten through grade 12 classes in the U.S.; 67% of these students are enrolled at the elementary school level
  • The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) has put strong emphasis on achievement for low-income, diverse, and English language learner students
silliman wilkinson brea spahn 2004 stated that
Silliman, Wilkinson, & Brea-Spahn, (2004) stated that:
  • The sharp increase in enrollment in American public schools coexists with a crisis of illiteracy in America, which is particularly regrettable given the changed sociodemographic characteristics of American classrooms.
  • A growing achievement gap exists among minority and nonminority students, those from poorer versus richer families, those whose native language is English, in contrast to those whose first language is not English, and those identified for special services versus those in regular education
no child left behind
No Child Left Behind…
  • Addresses inequities in several ways
  • Students with disabilities must participate in state accountability systems for reading and math in grades 3-8
  • Accommodations are allowed for these students as necessary
  • Schools must show adequate annual progress toward all students being proficient in math and reading, or the school will face penalties.
individuals with disabilities education act idea 2004
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004):
  • LEAs (local education agencies) are allowed to eliminate the IQ-achievement discrepancy gap that formerly was mandated in order to qualify students for many special education services
  • There is a greater emphasis on pre-referral services
  • Schools may now use more funds for early intervention
there is a special focus
There is a special focus…
  • On children in kindergarten through 3rd grade who don’t technically qualify for special education but who need additional support.
  • This includes ELL students

There is also a special focus on children who are having difficulty developing their basic reading skills, especially in the early grades.

response to intervention an opportunity
Response to Intervention-An Opportunity?
  • Under IDEA, federal funds can be allocated for early intervening services to provide academic assistance from special educators to students at risk for academic failure
  • Students who demonstrate improvement need different instruction, not special education….

ELLs are frequently designated as struggling readers who are placed in undifferentiated remediation programs with native English speakers who have scored poorly on standardized reading tests (Harper et al., 2008).

now more schools across the u s are implementing rti
Now more schools across the U.S. are implementing RTI

Regular education classroom (Tier 1)

Noncategorical, nonspecial education interventions (after-school math and/or reading academy; REWARDS reading program, etc.) (Tier 2)

Special education with IEP (Tier 3)

diehl silliman 2009 language and communication disorders in children
Diehl & Silliman, 2009; Language and Communication Disorders in Children)
  • RtI is a method of service delivery that tries to “catch” kids before they end up needing special education
  • There is especially an emphasis on reading intervention in the early grades
  • Great because it takes us away from a “wait to fail” system and instead has a “supporting success” orientation
  • Goal: PREVENT problems later
it is easy to be afraid that being involved in rti will create more work for us
It is easy to be afraid that being involved in RtI will create more work for us!
  • But ultimately, it will make our jobs easier because fewer children will be on IEPs
  • More students will receive support BEFORE we are asked to formally evaluate them for special education
some places in virginia and california
Some places in Virginia and California…
  • Build prison cells according to the number of 3rd graders who do not read at grade level
  • For example, in 2012, if 500 third graders do not read well, 500 prison cells are made available to house these children 10-15 years later
as slps we can collaborate in the schools to emphasize
As SLPs, we can collaborate in the schools to emphasize
  • Justice and equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of race, SES, or primary language
  • Leveling the playing field
blevins 2011 csha
Blevins 2011 CSHA:
  • In Santa Ana Unified, they had so many preschool referrals that it would have cost $2 million to hire SLPs to test and treat the kids
  • Many were ELL—mostly Spanish-speaking
  • She created a preschool RtI program
at risk preschoolers were seen by slpas for 6 weeks
“ At risk” preschoolers were seen by SLPAs for 6 weeks
  • They received language intervention
  • At the end of the 6 weeks, 95% of the children were fine
  • Only about 5% needed IEPs
gillam 2011 csha
Gillam 2011 CSHA
  • We are WAAAAY overidentifying ELL kindergarteners for IEPs
  • Assessed Spanish-speaking Ks at beginning and end of K (English and Spanish)
  • Of 167 “at risk” at beginning of K, only 21 really needed IEPs at end of K
  • It behooves us to work with young (preschool and kindergarten) ELLs to ensure that they experience as much success as possible
a increasing oral language skills in preschool ell children with lld
A. Increasing Oral Language Skills in Preschool ELL Children with LLD
  • Research shows that even children as young as 3 years of age reject peers whom they perceive as “different” (Rice, Sell, & Hadley, 1991; Tabors, 2008; Weiss, 2002).
  • Thus, a major goal for ELL preschoolers with LLD is to successfully interact socially with their peers.
with ell preschool children who are lld
With ELL preschool children who are LLD…
  • It is crucial to increase their ability to interact verbally with peers.
  • We have said that ideally, these children will receive intervention in L1. However, the reality is that many of them are in daycare or preschool settings where only English is spoken.

These children face the challenge of learning to successfully interact with peers in a language that is unfamiliar to them. If these children have a LLD in addition to not speaking English, they have “double jeopardy.”

how do we help ell preschoolers with lld succeed in preschool daycare settings
How do we help ELL preschoolers with LLD succeed in preschool/daycare settings?
  • First, professionals such as SLPs, teachers, and childcare workers cannot just assume that these preschool children will automatically engage in interactions with their typically-developing peers.

Research has shown that these children need the adults around them to facilitate language interaction opportunities with peers.

specific suggestions
Specific Suggestions
  • When an ELL LLD child asks an adult for something, the adult can redirect the child to a typically-developing peer in the classroom. The adult can teach the child specific strategies for interacting with the peer.
  • For example, if a Ryan, a Mandarin-speaking child comes and tugs on an adult’s arm and points to the bathroom, the teacher could say “Ryan, go ask your friend Mark to go to the bathroom with you. Walk up to him and say ‘Mark, bathroom please’ and take his hand.”
        • In this way, Ryan would be encouraged to interact with a peer and also learn an effective strategy for gaining a peer’s attention.

Tabors (2008) coordinated the Harvard Language Diversity Project, a research activity of the New England Quality Research Center on Head Start

  • Tabors’ research yielded some excellent, practical, evidence-based strategies for providing additional support to ELL preschool children.
Tabors, P.O. (2008). One child, two languages: A guide for childhood educators of children learning English as a second language (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing
  • www.brookespublishing.com
Tabors recommended that teachers give children some immediate, routine phrases to use to initiate conversation with peers.
  • If an ELL child with LLD can be taught such words/phrases as “Hi” “How’s it going?” “Can I play?,” they immediately open themselves up to more language exposure and interaction with other children.
another practical strategy
Another practical strategy:
  • Professionals can ask parents of ELL LLD children to teach them a few key words in the children’s home language.
  • The research of Tabors and her colleagues showed that it was extremely helpful during the first few weeks of preschool if the adults could say words like bathroom, eat, listen in the children’s first languages.
  • This gave the children a sense of connection with the teachers and helped them learn preschool routines faster.
tabors and her harvard colleagues also recommended that
Tabors and her Harvard colleagues also recommended that:
  • Adults give the preschoolers a great deal of verbal “space” for the first few weeks.
  • In the Harvard project, the teachers welcomed the children and smiled at them, but they did not overwhelm them by issuing directives (unless necessary) or calling on them too much during the first few weeks.
When the teachers did eventually begin addressing the children directly, they “doubled the message” by accompanying their words with a gesture, action, or directed gaze.
      • This redundance enhanced the children’s comprehension of what the teachers were saying, and increased the children’s confidence.
one of the most helpful things for the preschool children
One of the most helpful things for the preschool children….
  • Was the establishment of a consistent set of routines that were simple and used daily. For example, things like snack time, outside play, cleanup time, and circle time allowed the ELL preschoolers to immediately act like members of the group.
Another successful strategy that helped the l ELL preschoolers fit into the group faster and socialize more:
  • Teachers always structured small group activities to include a mix of ELL and monolingual English-speaking children.
  • This was very helpful to the ELL children because they did not have to negotiate entry into the groups; they were automatically included.
Once included in the activities, the ELL children gained more exposure to English and more opportunities to interact with other children.
b increasing literacy skills
B. Increasing Literacy Skills
  • Reading, writing, spelling
  • Phonological awareness
  • Oral language
    • Foundation is environmental experiences and exposure
begin with phonological awareness
Begin with phonological awareness:
  • Phonological awareness is the ability to consciously reflect on and manipulate the sound system of a language.
  • It is foundational to success in reading, writing, and spelling (Justice, 2010; Ukrainetz et al., 2009).
  • Preschoolers who are ELL and have LLD especially need to develop phonological awareness skills (Brice & Brice, 2009; Roseberry-McKibbin, 2007).
the research of ukrainetz et al 2009 showed that
The research of Ukrainetz et al (2009) showed that:
  • ELL kindergarteners (including those from low-SES Hispanic homes) who were exposed to phonological awareness activities over the course of a year made good progress in reading
  • The children with moderate deficits benefited more than the children with mild deficits
  • Even when treatment was provided in short, intensive periods (as opposed to longer, more drawn out less intense periods), the children made gains
  • These gains were maintained over time
use the following hierarchy
Use the following hierarchy:
  • 1. Count the # of words in a sentence
  • 2. Count the number of syllables in a word
  • 3. Count the number of sounds in a word
  • 4. Identify rhyming words
  • 5. Use sound blending skills (e.g., “What word is this? S-u-n”
  • 6. Identify the first sound in a word
  • 7. Identify the last sound in a word
other ideas include
Other ideas include:
  • Use rhythm sticks and clapping to facilitate knowledge of how many syllables there are in a given word. Students can clap out the syllables or use rhythm sticks to tap or shake for each syllable.
  • Use a grab bag where students pull an object/toy out of the bag and tell the beginning or ending sound in the word.
      • Use rhymes such as Dr. Seuss. Many ELL preschoolers with LLD have underdeveloped rhyming skills.
we can also
We can also:
  • Use stories with Rebus-style pictures and ask students to “read” the pictures
  • Read a familiar story or poem and have students fill in missing words
if books are read many times
If books are read many times…..
  • Children obtain more vocabulary and information each time they read the story.
  • When they are familiar with a story, they can be encouraged to “read” it to peers and family members. This increases their confidence with reading.
professionals can use books that
Professionals can use books that:
  • Have highly exciting or dramatic story themes
  • Have manipulative parts like flaps and movable tabs to engage children.
  • Have buttons to press that make noises (e.g., a choo-choo noise for a train) or play music.
  • Have many colorful pictures that accompany the words. Often, children who have limited exposure to books will become disinterested in books that have many words on each page.
written language attainments preschool period
Written Language Attainments: Preschool Period
  • We need to be sure that before they enter kindergarten, our preschool students can:
  • 1. Display interest in reading & sharing books
        • 2. Hold a book right side up
3. Identify the front and back of the book
  • 4. Identify the top and bottom of a page
  • 5. Look at and turn pages from left to right
        • 6. Identify the title on the book cover
7. Identify titles of favorite books
  • 8. Distinguish between pictures and print on a page
  • 9. Know where the story begins in the book
  • 10. Identify letters that occur in their own names
  • 11. Print the first letter of their name
  • 12. Recite the first 10 letters of the alphabet
13. Point to the first letter in a word14. Differentiate uppercase from lowercase letters15. Use terms such as letter, word, alphabet
  • 16. Point to words individually as they are read
  • 17. Respond to signs in the classroom
  • 18. Recognize common environmental signs (e.g., stop sign)
if preschool students receive comprehensive support in oral and written language skills
If preschool students receive comprehensive support in oral and written language skills….
  • They will be far more successful in elementary school and beyond.

IV. Intervention and Instructional Strategies for Pull-Out and Push-In Therapy in General Education Settings


how did i get here
  • An interest in children with early oral language difficulties that become later reading and writing difficulties…….
  • An interest in promoting early detection and remediation
  • This began during my graduate and undergraduate training program…………..

Dr. Goldsworthy and Sacramento State Students have set the tone for literacy intervention at the Maryjane Rees Language, Speech, and Hearing Center







  • Modified RAVE-O activities: Language activities designed to promote RETRIEVAL, AUTOMATICITY, VOCABULARY, ELABORATION, AND ORTHOGRAPHY ACTIVITIES (Orthographic Awareness, Morphological Awareness, Language/Literacy)
how did i get here1
  • My work in the Public Schools….which led to several interests, including:
  • Multilingual students (Difference vs. Disorder, but suggestions to team?)
  • Response to Intervention (RTI) programs: Which students need Special Education and which students need more intense instruction?????
which left me with many questions
Which left me with many Questions!?!?!?!?!?!?

...............All of which led to the research agenda we will review today!

my primary topics for today
  • Revisit links between oral language and literacy
  • Discuss the challenges faced by English Language Learners (ELLs) “at risk” for academic failure in early elementary school
  • Review current research agenda designed to examine benefits of an intervention designed to meet the needs of these students
  • Discuss potential roles and provide practical suggestions for the SLP working with ELL populations
special ed who are these kids

Remember, early success in school is closely linked to success in the language arts—specifically reading and reading comprehensionKids who don’t achieve traditionally get referred to Special Ed…

  • What about English Language Learners?
  • Traditionally, ELLs have been overrepresented by those same two words: SPECIAL ED!
research completed in california
Research completed in California
  • Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, & Higareda, 2005:

ELLs with limited proficiency in both their native language and in English are disproportionately included in Special Education programs in both the elementary and secondary grades…..

Does this necessarily indicate a language disorder? Consider subtractive bilingualism…..

the situation in california
The Situation in California
  • Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which introduced stringent accountability measures to ensure federal education funding
  • Standards based education and assessment
  • California chooses to test in English only
  • Proposition 227 lead to English language mainstream classrooms for most ELLs
  • The number of languages represented in public schools
the situation in california cont d
The Situation in California (Cont’d)

Many feel this Inclusion leads to marginalization

School curriculums adoptions:

  • Assume phonics-based reading instruction
  • Assume an English oral language foundation
  • Assume access to familiar vocabulary in English
  • Do not include modifications “to help ELLs develop oral language in English, to build on students’ literacy skills in their native language, or to acknowledge differences in cultural experiences and identity development” (Harper et al, 2008, p. 274)
Shaywitz (2004): Essential, scientifically-proven elements of reading programs for children at-risk for reading difficulties
  • Systematic and direct instruction in phonemic awareness
  • Systematic and direct instruction in phonics
  • Practice applying phonics in reading and writing
  • Fluency training
  • Enriched language experiences
how about effective english literacy instruction for ells
How about effective English literacy instruction for ELLs?

Research confirms the need for:

  • Systematic and explicit phonologically based intervention (Lovett et al.,2008)
  • Oral language development (August, Carlo, Dressler, & Snow, 2005; Gersten & Geva, 2003; Harper et al., 2008; Pollard-Durodola et al., 2006)
  • Extensive vocabulary development, reading comprehension, attention to sentence forms, and discourse structure (Gersten & Geva, 2003)
  • Cultural relevance (Pollard-Durodola et al., 2006)
research also confirms rti for ells in early elementary school
Research Also Confirms RTI for ELLS in Early Elementary School
  • Linan-Thompson et al. study (2003):26 ELLs. Grade 2. 58,35-minute sessions. Small groups over 3 months. Significant gains on measures of word attack, passage comprehension, phoneme segmentation fluency, and oral reading fluency.
  • Vaughn et. al study (2006):

41 Spanish speaking ELLs. Grade 2. 50-minute sessions, 5 days per week. Added element: guided story retelling with complete sentences and content-specific vocabulary. Significant gains: PA, RAN, letter knowledge, word attack, passage comprehension, and spelling dictation.

ells and curriculum selections a mismatch
ELLs and Curriculum Selections: A Mismatch
  • “Reading is an active process in which readers use their background knowledge, the situational context, and the cues provided by an author to construct an interpretation of the meaning of a text” (Pritchard, 1990)


  • School curriculum does not always provide culturally familiar materials.
research needs
Research Needs
  • What is the value of each intervention component? What helps the most?

(Vaughn et. al., 2006)

  • What about ELLs from language groups other than Spanish? What about shorter, less intensive interventions? (Linan-Thompson et al., 2006, 7 month study)
research needs1
Research Needs
  • Links between L2 development and the curriculum: Promotion of academic language development (Saunders & O’Brien, 2006)
the hmong a population of interest
The Hmong: A population of Interest
  • One of fastest growing California populations
  • Largest concentrations in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (Kan & Kohnert, 2005)
  • 36,000 Hmong American students in California K-12 (Vang, 2004-5). Of these, 85% classified as Limited English Proficient (LEP)
the hmong a population of interest1
The Hmong: A population of Interest
  • Fifth largest group of ELLs in California schools (CDE, 2009)
  • In Sacramento county, second largest group of ELLs behind Spanish speakers (CDE, 2009)

Population expected to grow exponentially

  • “Struggles of Hmong students have been obscured by the successes of Asian students in general” (Magagnini, 2010).
hmong and academic english a mismatch
Hmong and Academic English: A Mismatch?
  • Phonology: Unlike English, one morpheme=one syllable. Language with 8 inflectional tones. Few glides. Many more stops. Includes post-velar and uvular sounds.
  • Semantics: Unlike English, Hmong uses classifiers to indicate a semantic class to which something belongs:

ib tug cwjmem

ib (quantifier--“a” or “one”) tug (classifier--long-thin object) cwjmem(noun--pencil)



English: Uses a final sound: “house” + “s”

Hmong: ob lustsev

Hmong uses a quantifier: ob(quantifier-two) lus(classifier—something big) tsev(house)

Sources: Kan & Kohnert, 2005; Rubba 2006; Kan 2010

hmong and academic english a mismatch1
Hmong and Academic English: A Mismatch?
  • Syntax/Grammar
  • Hmong is Subject-Verb-Object, but unlike English, the word order changes to emphasize certain parts of utterances.
  • English:‘He/She cut a piece of paper.’
  • Hmong:Nwstxiavibdaimntawv.
  • Translation:He/She cut one (classifier) paper.
  • English:‘I cut that piece of paper.’
  • Hmong:Daimntawvkoyogkuvtxiavhov.
  • Translation:(Classifier) paper there is I cut, really.

Sources: Kan & Kohnert, 2005; Rubba 2006; Kan 2010

most noteworthy narrative differences
Most Noteworthy: Narrative Differences!

Hmong: Historic emphasis on oral skills; Long, highly-detailed, loosely-connected narratives:

Fadiman (1997): Hmong phrase-haiscuaj los kaum los, meaning “to speak of all things.” The phrase itself is sometimes used at the beginning of Hmong oral narratives to remind listeners that the world is full of things that, even though it may not seem so, are actually connected, that no event occurs in isolation, that you can miss a great deal by sticking to the point, and “that the storyteller is likely to be long-winded” (p. 13).

fish soup passage
Fish Soup Passage

Read the anecdote on your handout (Fadiman 1997). How does this oral report differ from the academic language expectations of the classroom in U.S. schools today…..consider early elementary school.

most noteworthy narrative differences1
Most Noteworthy: Narrative Differences!

English: Frequent formulaic structures, beginning with early storybooks

  • Topic statements
  • Characters
  • Development of central idea/plot
  • Prove something, argue something with examples
  • Series of examples
  • Conclusions
english oral language instruction
English Oral Language Instruction
  • Some Hmong students have been exposed to this oral narrative style.
  • Some have not…
  • But, consider what the literature says about helping students develop oral language in English…
california first grade standards
California First Grade Standards
  • 1.2.0 Reading Comprehension
  • Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
  • 1.2.7 Retell the central ideas of simple expository or narrative passages.  
  • 1.2.5 Confirm predictions about what will happen next in text by identifying key words
  • 1.3.0 Literary Response and Analysis 

Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text

  •  1.3.1 Identify and describe the story elements of plot, setting, and

 characters, including the story's beginning, middle, and ending.

  •  1.3.3 Recollect, talk, and write about books read during the school year.
  • 1.2.0 Speaking Application (Genres and their Characteristics)
  •  1.2.2 Retell stories using basic story grammar, sequencing story events by answering who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
more on how did i get here
More on: “How Did I Get Here?”

Educational Experience/Interests


Work Experience


Situation in California


Current Research Needs


Population of Interest

= Dissertation Research

dissertation research
Dissertation Research
  • Response to Intervention and Literacy: A Bright Spot for Hmong Speaking English Language Learners?
  • University of California at Davis, Spring 2011
my daily affirmation throughout the research process if you think you re on to something
My Daily Affirmation Throughout The Research Process: If you think you’re on to something….
  • This also pertains to our teamwork on Response to Intervention projects….
i got by with a little help from my friends
I got by with a little help from my friends!!!!!

Research Assistants from the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Sacramento State:

Debbie ToblerPlouaVue

Stacie Chastain Jayne Adams


Editorial Assistant: Tracy Stage


Question 1. Can intense, short term curriculum modifications designed by special educators for students with language-based reading difficulties enhance pre-requisite English literacy skills for typically developing ELL students whose first language is Hmong?

In other words:

Can such a program help build bridges for these students?

Help differentiate difference from disorder AND provide a foundation from which to proceed?


Question 2: Does the inclusion of an oral-narrative component designed by Speech-Language Pathologists enhance these students’ developing English literacy skills? Will this component yield better results if it is grounded in sociocultural reading theory?

In other words:

Can specific program components help build bridges for these students?

Question 3: How will acquired skills impact these students’ performance in the general education language arts curriculum?

The whole point!

specific grounding in english systems of language a place to start building bridges
Specific grounding in English systems of language: A place to start building bridges
  • Curriculum-based intervention
  • Phonological awareness and phonics activities related to curriculum selections
  • Vocabulary from curriculum selections
  • Oral narratives around curriculum selections-promoting morphology, syntax, and story retell
anticipated challenges
Anticipated Challenges
  • Hybridity of cultural identities
  • Individual backgrounds and linguistic differences within groups will performance and are difficult to account for
  • Which generation are we examining? Is culture still “alive” within the family unit?
  • Ability to isolate variables in social sciences…
  • If we do find significant improvements, will they carryover long-term?
current research agenda
Current Research Agenda
  • 39 Hmong ELL Students

First grade, similar SES, similar background and educational experiences, began speaking English in school, 1-2 years of instruction in English,

No suspected primary language delay, “at-risk” for academic failure in Language Arts curriculum adoption


Four groups: Control, Leg, Onleg, Cronleg

  • 7 weeks, small groups/varied language abilities, 19 sessions
  • Intervention: 2 stories from the curriculum-Frontloading
literacy enhancement group leg
Literacy Enhancement Group (LEG)
  • Hierarchichal Phonological Awareness Activities (Word, Syllable, and Sound levels) (Based on: Goldsworthy, 1998)
  • Letter-Word Identification Activities (Word Attack) (See Word Wheel)


Targets: Phonology/Phonics

pa activities based on goldsworthy sourcebooks for phonological awareness
  • Delmar/Cengage Learning
  • Activities at word, syllable, sound levels
  • 35-36 activities/story
  • 10 stimulus items/activity
new sourcebook for 2012
New Sourcebook for 2012!
  • Goldsworthy, C. & Pieretti, R. Sourcebook of Phonological Awareness Volume IV: Curriculum Relevant Literature. Clifton Park: Delmar/Cengage Learning.
  • Activities based on stories commonly found in major U.S. Kindergarten and First Grade curriculum adoptions.
sample word level activities
  • “How many words do you hear?” the leaves (2)
  • “Tell me which word is missing?” sang, frog sang (frog)
  • “Supply missing word.” It was _____ (spring)
  • “Rearrange these words.” spring was it (it was spring)

**Use manipulatives and fade…………

sample syllable level activities
  • Delete syllables: “Say groundhog without ground” (hog)
  • Adding syllables: “Add in to the end of rob” (robin)
  • Substituting syllables: “Say robin. Instead of -in say -er” (robber)

**Use manipulatives and fade…………

sample phoneme level activities
  • Guess which word doesn’t rhyme with the other 3: spring, ring, the, king (the)
  • Blending sounds: b + unny; gr + ound
  • Substituting initial sound: “Say log. Instead of /l/ say /b/” (bog)
  • Identify all the sounds in the word: bunny =

/b/ /short u/ /n/ /long e/

**Use manipulatives and fade…………

“Timed” reading and sorting activities: Modified from the RAVE-0 program (Wolf & Miller, 1997; Wolf, Miller, & Donnelly, 2000)
  • Read your journal lists and “beat your time”
  • Sort cards printed with words from the lists into respective “word family” piles and “beat your time”
oral narrative literacy enhancement group onleg
Oral Narrative Literacy Enhancement Group (ONLEG)

Add in before LEG activities:

  • Primary discussion of six selected multiple meaning words from story
  • Presentation of story with open-ended questions (based on Text Talk, Beck & McKeown, 2001)
  • Scaffolded story retelling

(based on Linking the Strands of Language and

Literacy ,Goldsworthy, C. with contributions

by Lambert, K., 2010)


-Targets: Phonology/Phonics/Vocabulary/Oral Language Development

storyboard a map
Storyboard: A Map

Generic icon introduction (see picturestoryboard)

  • Someone (Character)
  • Somewhere (Setting)
  • Wanted
  • First
  • But
  • Next
  • But
  • Next
  • But
  • Next
  • Solution
  • Feelings
storyboard sequence
Storyboard Sequence
  • Group orally labels each pictured generic icon when queried by teacher: Every story is about someone or a character. Who is the someone in this story?”
  • Retell as a group, taking turns, with specific pictured icons to place on the board when handed them
  • Retell as a group, taking turns, selecting correct pictured icon from an array of three
  • SIMPLE retell individually, pointing to each icon on the board, receive help and feedback from group, if needed
culturally relevant oral narrative literacy enhancement group cronleg
Culturally-Relevant Oral Narrative Literacy Enhancement Group (CRONLEG)

Add in before LEG and ONLEG activities:

  • Unit based on Language Experience Approach (Nessel & Jones, 1981; Craig, 1980; Anne

Arundel Public Schools, 1980; Bank Street, 2009).

  • Developed in consultation with native-Hmong speaking research assistant
  • Introduced to one critical theme

from each story (“Home”)

Targets: Contextualized/Culturally-

Relevant Connections

culturally relevant oral narrative literacy enhancement group cronleg1
Culturally-Relevant Oral Narrative Literacy Enhancement Group (CRONLEG)
  • Scaffolded word web about theme
  • Character development
  • Develop a unique tale based on

group’s knowledge and experiences to parallel the Open Court story to come

  • Then introduced to the storyboard concept
  • Retell of story using storyboard by group and then individually
culturally relevant oral narrative literacy enhancement group cronleg2
Culturally-Relevant Oral Narrative Literacy Enhancement Group (CRONLEG)
  • Story written down in a book to “read” in subsequent session
  • Following reading of Open Court story, comparisons between students’ book and the story made by the group
  • Drew upon individual oral narrative experiences

while simultaneously tying the activity

to narrative style of Academic English

-Contextualized/cultural connections/Bridges

-Targets: Phonology/Phonics/Vocabulary/Oral Language Development


Question 1. Can intense, short term curriculum modifications designed by special educators for students with language-based reading difficulties enhance pre-requisite English literacy skills for typically developing ELL students whose first language is Hmong?

  • Multivariate Analysis of Variance: Significant mean raw score change difference (p<.05) between performance of Control (.80) and CRONLEG (3.67) on Passage Comprehension (WJIII)

Overall Trends:

  • Means indicate that students participating in this intense, short term RTI curriculum modification were reading more words and understanding more of what they read than controls
  • Phonological awareness (PA)
  • Vocabulary
  • Decoding
  • Reading Comprehension
vocabulary rowpvt mean standard score changes by treatment receptive vocabulary
Vocabulary: ROWPVT Mean Standard Score Changes by Treatment: Receptive Vocabulary
Decoding and Comprehension: WJIII Mean Raw Score Changes by Treatment: Letter-Word ID and Passage Comprehension
  • All of the activities selected are recommended in one way or another in the literature: Evidence Based…….
  • BUT!!! Which combinations of activities help the most? Which methodologies help the most?
we really wanted to know can oral narrative help
We really wanted to know: Can oral narrative help?
  • Story retell portion speaks to the building of linguistic bridges through increased oral narratives.
  • Provides opportunities for English vocabulary expansion, connections to prior knowledge and life experiences, increased understanding about the literacy practices of the target language/language of instruction
we really wanted to know did promotion of sociocultural connections help
We really wanted to Know: Did promotion of sociocultural connections help?

Author Reader

Experiences/Knowledge: Experiences/Knowledge:

Grounded in culture Grounded in culture

Increase analysis of interconnections

Can we promote this in children?

  • Question 2: Does the inclusion of an oral-narrative component designed by Speech-Language Pathologists enhance these students’ developing English literacy skills? Will this component yield better results if it is grounded in sociocultural reading theory?
  • Trends indicate that language-rich oral narratives may have been a key element!
Groups demonstrating the largest mean standard score change pre- to post-intervention on selected measures
  • Question 3: How will acquired skills impact these students’ performance in the general education language arts curriculum?
  • Open Court Reading Lions and Comprehension measures did not reveal clear patterns despite noted improvements.
  • Limited linguistic knowledge, flexibility and schema lead to problems with problem solving, inference, and irregular orthographic patterns
results an added benefit teacher questionnaire
Results….An Added Benefit!!!!!!!!!!Teacher Questionnaire
  • Increased confidence regarding story comprehension
  • Increased classroom participation/engagement
  • Evidence suggests that contextualized, language-rich oral narratives may be an essential element for Hmong speaking ELLs: PA, Decoding, and participation and engagement
  • Emphasizing learning language by making sense or meaning out of experience with communicative contexts……(Norris & Hoffman, 1990).
  • These findings are particularly important with ELL populations who have not demonstrated a history of academic success
  • Engagement is positively correlated with school success
a case study
A Case Study:
  • P.J.
  • 7-5, Hmong American Male, First grade, regular education
  • Met all criteria for referral
  • CELDT: EI (expected for 1-2 years of instruction in English)
  • Reading Lions: 18.5 WPM 50th percentile= 35WPM
  • Teacher: Frequently attempts to engage in classroom discussion around curriculum. Difficult time decoding and comprehending when reading.
p j s cronleg performance
P.J.’s CRONLEG Performance
  • Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) Note: A=Average, BA=Below Average, P=Poor
p j s cronleg performance1
P.J.’s CRONLEG Performance
  • Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP)
p j s cronleg performance2
P.J.’s CRONLEG Performance
  • Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Achievement Note: A=Average, HA=High Average
p j s cronleg performance3
P.J.’s CRONLEG Performance
  • Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (vocabulary recognition)
p j s cronleg performance4
P.J.’s CRONLEG Performance

So What? Are there curriculum improvements?

  • Reading Lions Fluency Pre: 18.5 WPM
  • Reading Lions Fluency Post: 21 WPM
  • Optional Open Court Fluency

Measure 27 WPM

p j s cronleg performance5
P.J.’s CRONLEG Performance
  • So What? Are there curriculum improvements?

Home for a Bunny Lesson Assessment:

Comprehension: 7/7 Correct

Vocabulary: 4/4 Correct

Phonics: 6/6 Correct

research assistant notes on p j
Research Assistant Notes on P.J.
  • Appeared to gain confidence using oral English, decoding words, and answering questions about text
  • Storyboard seemed to aid comprehension
  • Oral output increased
  • Increased awareness of all sounds in words: decreased omission of final sounds and vowel substitutions in spontaneous speech
  • Overall speech intelligibility seemed to improve
research assistant notes
Research Assistant Notes
  • Appeared to gain confidence using oral English, decoding words, and answering questions about text
  • Storyboard seemed to aid comprehension
  • Oral output increased
  • Increased awareness of all sounds in words: decreased omission of final sounds and vowel substitutions in spontaneous speech
  • Overall speech intelligibility seemed to improve
research we begin confused and we end confused but hopefully at a higher level of confusion
Research: We begin confused and we end confused…..but hopefully at a higher level of confusion!!!!
more questions and future directions
More Questions and Future Directions……..
  • Follow up study: Will current participants’ improved reading and comprehension begin to provide “schema” and an increased understanding of the “richness” of the English language?
  • Would this suggest that Hmong speaking ELLs might benefit from a positive Mathew Effect (Stanovich, 1986, 2000) as noted in reading and writing research?
more questions and future directions1
More Questions and Future Directions….
  • Would we find similar findings with ELLs

from other understudied groups?

  • CRONLEG may have taken time and focus away from PA/Phonics training. Can ONLEG by itself constitute “good teaching” (Delpit, 1998) from a sociocultural standpoint? Design such a study comparing ONLEG to Controls.
onleg modifications from cronleg
ONLEG Modifications from CRONLEG??
  • The Language Experience Approach (have student tell story first, then write it down, then move into the actual story)
  • Build on Schema Activation: Access what students know and begin there.
  • What do I know about bunnies? What do I want to know about bunnies?
in conclusion why involve the slp
In Conclusion….Why Involve the SLP?
  • ELLs are frequently among the students referred to SST and IEP teams as being “at risk of academic failure.”
  • SLP training leads to heightened awareness of multicultural issues and linguistic differences.
  • SLPs are the professionals among the inter-disciplinary special education teams whose expertise is in the area of language development and literacy.

SLPs are well-placed for intervention and/or consultation, collaboration, and follow-up.

  • Many SLPs are asked to participate and help develop RTI programs
as already stated it is easy to be afraid that being involved in rti will create more work for us
As already stated, it is easy to be afraid that being involved in RtI will create more work for us!
  • But ultimately, it will make our jobs easier because fewer children will be on IEPs
  • More students will receive support BEFORE we are asked to formally evaluate them for special education
so instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of rti
So instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of RtI…
  • Hopefully we will find ways to support ELL students as part of a school team approach
  • In the ideal team approach, the work load is shared

So what if I’m not involved in RTI? How can I use this information?

  • SST: Suggesting classroom modifications and pre-testing and pre-intervention strategies for ELLs
  • Consultation and Collaboration with teaches and team members for ELLs who do qualify
some educators tell parents to speak only english at home
Some educators tell parents to “speak only English at home”

Because they believe that an ELL child with a LLD will be confused by a dual language environment. However, research has shown that this is not true.

Children with LI can and do learn 2 languages effectively; being a proficient bilingual is very advantageous

If a child is cut off from one of his languages, it can have a negative impact in many areas.

Here in the U.S., we as professionals routinely expect families to be involved in their children’s learning.

However, in some cultures, families believe that school and related activities are the responsibility of professionals—not families!

Thus, families may be offended at being asked to participate in educational decisions, carryover activities, etc. because these things are not their job. Education of children is the job of professionals. Raising children and providing discipline is the job of the family!

In these cases, we can utilize the services of cultural mediators to help families realize that in the U.S., they are expected to be an integral part of the educational team. This may be a difficult transition for many families.

A cultural mediator is a person from the family’s cultural and linguistic background who acts as a go-between for professionals and family members, helping them work successfully with one another.

remember that in some cultures
Remember that in some cultures

Older siblings take responsibility for younger ones. Thus, SLPs may have better success engaging the support of older siblings for things like carryover of homework assignments.

Also, parents and grandparents may speak little-no English. Older siblings usually do speak English, and can be most helpful in assisting with homework assignments and other carryover activities.

we can help parents understand what u s schools expect of them and their children
We can help parents understand what U.S. schools expect of them and their children

Parents need to understand the academic/ curricular standards of their children’s schools. For example, here in California, students begin learning multiplication at the end of second grade. In some countries, students do not begin learning this information until third grade.

If parents can volunteer in their children’s classrooms, they will understand the demands of the curriculum much better. Parents who speak little English can still help with tasks such as xeroxing, collating, and stapling assignments.

many families are surviving
Many families are surviving…

Keep assignments short and simple.

When we do give homework, it needs to only take a few minutes to do, and it needs to be understandable to families.

We often tell the student what needs to be done, make sure she has a parent sign the assignment, and offer a sticker or small prize for returning it.

in many cultures infants and young children are not considered conversational partners
In many cultures, infants and young children are not considered conversational partners

Many cultures value quietness in children

Thus, they may receive a great deal of love and affection, but language stimulation may not be occurring at a level expected by mainstream society.

Again, it can be very advantageous to involve older siblings in language stimulation activities

help parents find out
Help parents find out

About local adult literacy services and English classes.

For example, English classes are often offered at night through local educational agencies.

encourage students to read to their parents in english
Encourage students to read to their parents in English

This helps develop students’ literacy skills.

Many parents want to learn English, and they are helped by hearing their children read to them in English.

remember that some parents are non literate in english
Remember that some parents are non-literate in English…

Send home wordless books that parents and children can look at together and discuss.

Encourage parents to read or discuss books with their children in L1.


Encourage them to take their children to the local library to check out books. Many developing countries don’t have public libraries; parents are often very happy to find this resource here in the U.S.

Help parents become aware of such things as garage sales and flea markets where they can purchase books very inexpensively.

we have been collecting and distributing gently used children s books to low ses preschoolers
We have been collecting and distributing gently-used children’s books to low-SES preschoolers…
to date
To date…
  • We have collected and distributed over 12,000 books; many have been given to families who do not speak English
  • We have collected these books from university students, churches, and friends
some books
Some books….
  • Have been shared with classroom teachers (e.g., Head Start, district preschool programs) to help prepare at-risk preschoolers to succeed in the general education setting
it has been very rewarding
It has been very rewarding…
  • To put books into the hands of children and families who otherwise might not have any books in the home
selected bibliography
Selected Bibliography
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  • Bank Street. (2009). Literacy Guide. Retrieved April 29, 2009 from www.bnkst.edu/literacyguide/story.html.
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  • Brice, A.E., & Brice, R.G. (2009). Language development: Monolingual and bilingual acquisition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
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selected bibliography cont d
Selected Bibliography (Cont’d)
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Selected Bibliography (Cont’d)
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Selected Bibliography (Cont’d)
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Selected Bibliography (Cont’d)
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