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Instruction Practices: Effects of Language and Literacy Instruction on Adult ESOL Literacy Students. LESLLA - Tilburg University August 26, 2005 Larry Condelli American Institutes for Research Washington, DC USA. Overview.

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Instruction Practices:

Effects of Language and Literacy Instruction on Adult ESOL Literacy Students

LESLLA - Tilburg University

August 26, 2005

Larry Condelli

American Institutes for Research

Washington, DC USA

  • Research Studies on Effective Instruction for Adult Literacy Students
    • Literature review on effective instructional interventions
    • Correlational “What Works” Study (completed)
    • Experimental Explicit Literacy Impact (ongoing)
adult esol literacy students
Adult ESOL Literacy Students
  • Limited literacy in any language
  • Need also to learn English language skills
  • Have little or no formal schooling (working definition: 6 years or fewer)
  • May lack “print awareness”
  • Have no or little phonemic awareness
  • Need to build “schema” for types of literacy
purpose of the research
Purpose of The Research
  • Identify types of instruction that may be effective in improving the L2 language and literacy skills of low-literate adults
  • Identify student characteristics related to L2 development
  • Identify implications for practice and further research
review of research in adult sla
Review of Research in Adult SLA
  • Focus on identifying hypotheses that can be tested by our research
  • Focus on studies in adult SLA, second language reading and adult EFL
  • Research on children included where results also found and accepted for adults
  • Excluded studies of structural language skills
sla topics addressed by these studies
SLA Topics Addressed by These Studies
  • Relationship of oral communication skills and literacy
  • Connecting literacy to real-world tasks in instruction
  • Use of native language support
  • Instructional focus on reading and life skills
sla research hypotheses
SLA Research Hypotheses
  • Oral Language Skills and Literacy – literacy development may be aided when there are oral skills first
  • Literacy in Context – connection to real-world tasks and materials in instruction may promote literacy development
  • Native Language Support – Ways literacy in L1 promotes L2 development
  • Focus on Reading – Direct, systematic or explicit teaching may promote reading and literacy development
learning theory
Learning Theory
  • U.S. National Academy of Sciences review suggests 3 keys to effective instruction:
    • building upon prior knowledge,
    • engaging in active learning within strong conceptual frameworks, and
    • promoting transfer and generalization by applying new skills in a variety of contexts
learning trinity
Learning Trinity




what works study research design overview
“What Works” Study: Research Design Overview
  • “Natural” study: conducted in existing classes with no intervention
  • Two year data collection: 38 classes in 13 school sites in seven states, 495 total students
  • Students assessed three times: at intake, three months and nine months, regardless of attendance
  • Assessment battery: included standardized and alternative reading, speaking and writing assessments
  • Bi-weekly classroom observations: to collect instructional measures
student sample
Student Sample
  • 495 students, 72% female, mean age 40
  • Mean 3.1 years education, one third no education
  • Two-thirds Spanish speaking, 9% Somali, 8% Hmong
  • Over 30 other languages spoken
  • Attended mean of 129 hours over 16 weeks
  • Very little English language or literacy skills
measuring instruction
Measuring Instruction
  • Structured classroom observation guide
    • Observer kept timed running account
    • Coded for Instructional emphasis – Proportion of time spent on literacy or language (what was taught)
    • Ratings of Instructional strategies – Mean score based on ratings of teachers’ methods and student involvement (how it was taught).
instructional emphasis measures
Instructional Emphasis Measures
  • Literacy Development – Main focus on reading and writing development:
    • Basic literacy skills emphasis (fluency, basic reading skills, grammar, vocabulary).
    • Reading comprehension emphasis (reading for meaning, prediction strategies).
  • ESOL Acquisition – Main focus on speaking, listening, fundamentals of English:
    • Oral communication emphasis (speaking and listening practice).
instructional strategy measures
Instructional Strategy Measures
  • 20 items measuring teacher use of strategies and student involvement on 4-point scales
  • Factor analysis to identify scaling
  • Mean rating across observations on items for four factor-defined scales
instructional strategies
Instructional Strategies
  • Varied Practice and Interaction-
    • Teachers keep students engaged through a variety of activities, using different modalities and types of literacy
  • Connection to the “Outside”-
    • Teachers link what is being learned to life outside the classroom, “real life”
instructional strategies1
Instructional Strategies
  • Use of Native Language (Spanish) –
    • Teachers uses native language to clarify assignments, explain concepts
    • Students allowed to ask questions in native language
assessment approach
Assessment Approach
  • Combined standardized and alternative assessments.
  • Individual administration, test instructions in native language.
  • Preference for performance-based tests.
  • Multiple areas assessed: oral communication, writing, reading.
  • Interview with student.
assessment battery standardized tests
Assessment Battery – Standardized Tests
  • Reading - Woodcock Johnson basic skills and comprehension subscales.
  • Speaking – Basic English Skills Test (BEST) oral interview.
  • Writing – ALAS writing test and CASAS form completion.
assessment battery alternative assessments
Assessment Battery – Alternative Assessments
  • Reading Demonstration-Learner rated on reading of self-selected authentic and environmental texts (e.g., food labels, flyers, newspaper advertisements, etc.)
  • Literacy Practices Interview - Structured interview on reading, writing and speaking habits in everyday life
analytic approach growth modeling
Analytic Approach: Growth Modeling
  • Latent growth modeling in an HLM framework
  • Accommodates complex data:
    • Random student intra-class variation
    • Hierarchical, nested, repeated measures
    • Student attrition
  • Three parameter model – initial status, linear and quadratic growth over time
  • Requires model of relevant variables
findings basic reading skills
Findings: Basic Reading Skills

Growth in reading basic skills (WJR-BRSC)

  • Use of “connection to the outside” strategy
  • Younger students have higher growth
  • Years of formal education (proxy for native language literacy), but fades over time
  • Initial English oral proficiency (BEST score)
effect of the use of the connection to the outside strategy on growth in basic reading skills
Effect of the Use of the “Connection to the Outside” Strategy on Growth in Basic Reading Skills
findings reading comprehension
Findings: Reading Comprehension

Growth in reading comprehension skills (WJR-RCC)

  • Use of students’ native language in instruction
  • Rate of attendance (proportion of hours student attends weekly by hours offered weekly)
  • Initial basic reading skills (BRSC score) – effect emerges slowly over time (quadratic effect)
Effects of Attendance Rate, Basic Reading Skills and Use of Native Language on Growth in Reading Comprehension
findings oral english skills
Findings: Oral English Skills

Growth in Oral English Skills (BEST)

  • Use of students’ native language in instruction
  • Oral Communication instructional emphasis
  • Varied practice and interaction strategy
  • Higher rate of attendance
  • Student age (younger students have higher growth)
  • Initial basic reading skills (BRSC score)
Effects of Instructional Emphasis on Oral Communication Skills and Practice Strategy on Growth in Oral Communication Skills
other analyses
Other Analyses
  • Writing Ability
    • No significant growth on writing assessments
  • Reading Demonstration
    • Weak growth,related to emphasis on reading comprehension and bringing in the outside strategy
  • Literacy Practices Interview
    • IRT-developed scales, showed positive change, but not statistically significant
summary instructional findings and implications
Summary: Instructional Findings and Implications
  • Bringing the Outside – growth in basic reading skills
    • Direct connection to students’ lives makes instruction meaningful
  • Use of Native Language – growth in reading comprehension and oral English skills
    • Removes comprehension barriers
    • Safe learning environment
    • Allows critical thinking skills
summary instructional findings
Summary: Instructional Findings
  • Varied Practice and Interaction – growth in oral English skills
    • Learn patterns from others
    • Multi-modal learning
    • Opportunity to practice and test individual language hypotheses
summary student effects 1
Summary: Student Effects (1)
  • Formal Education
    • More educated students had faster growth in basic reading skills development (but faded over time)
  • English Speaking Skills
    • Students with high oral English skills had faster growth in basic reading skills development
  • Basic English Reading Skills
    • Students with higher basic skills had faster growth in reading comprehension and oral English skills (emerged over time)
summary student effects 2
Summary: Student Effects (2)
  • Age
    • Younger students had faster growth in reading basic skills and English speaking skills
  • Attendance
    • Students who attended a higher proportion of scheduled time had faster growth in reading comprehension and English speaking skills
student findings possible implications
Student Findings: Possible Implications
  • Formal Education
    • Possible of L1 transfer
  • English Speaking Skills
    • A basis in oral skills in L2 may help L2 reading development
  • Basic English Reading Skills
    • Basic reading skills in L2 may promote L2 reading comprehension and oral skills development
research question
Research Question

The new study will use random assignment to answer the question:

What difference will explicit instruction make in terms of L2 literacy development and language learning for ESOL adults with limited literacy?”

  • Explicit literacy instruction creates a conceptual framework of English literacy within which students can engage in active learning and apply their growing skills in a variety of contexts to improve their learning.
reading research support
Reading Research Support
  • Reading research for native English speakers who struggle suggests the effectiveness of explicit instruction, within meaningful contexts, of the following components:
    • Alphabetics (phonological awareness, print awareness, phonics)
    • Word analysis and spelling
    • Vocabulary
    • Fluency
    • Comprehension
research on explicit literacy
Research on Explicit Literacy
  • Recent research in learning and literacy development suggests the effectiveness of an explicit instruction for students from diverse backgrounds
  • Some research on effectiveness for ESOL children and adolescents
  • No research for adult ESOL
  • “Learning Trinity” Research
explicit literacy instruction 1
Explicit Literacy Instruction (1)
  • Adds a focus on literacy development and makes the process of learning a language transparent (skills and strategies)
  • Exposes the code system of English
  • Teaches foundational skills (phonological awareness, orthographic awareness, automaticity, fluency, etc.)
explicit literacy instruction 2
Explicit Literacy Instruction (2)
  • Teaches learning strategies deliberately
  • Uses multiple modes of learning and teaching (visual, text-based, auditory)
  • Relies heavily on modeling and guided practice that draw students’ attention to key patterns or strategies and provides immediate constructive feedback
  • Specially developed curriculum focusing on explicit teaching of language and literacy skills
  • Appropriate for low-literate adult ESOL
  • One hour per day over 15 weeks (or 60 hours total)
  • Replaces part of usual instruction in intervention classes so that both classes have the same amount of instructional hours
curriculum features
Curriculum Features
  • Will includes skills, strategies and knowledge of different kinds of texts
  • Will be contextualized within materials that reflect adults students’ interests and needs
  • Supports various student groupings (homogeneous and heterogeneous; small group; pairs)
explicit literacy impact study1
Explicit Literacy Impact Study
  • Evaluates impact of explicit literacy instruction on low literate adult ESOL students
  • Random assignment design (explicit component vs. “normal” instruction)
  • Total of 1,800 students in 10 adult ESOL programs (90 in each group per program)
  • One year data collection, 2006-07
study design
Study Design
  • Each adult ESOL program to include in study:
    • Two intervention classes and two “normal” classes, meeting at same times and locations
    • To offer about 120 hours of instruction over 15 weeks
    • Intervention class to teach about half time on explicit literacy
    • Each class to be conducted twice over the year
teachers in the study
Teachers in the Study
  • 4 teachers per ESOL program, randomly assigned (2 per condition)
  • Initial week long teacher training on curriculum
  • Site-based ongoing training as needed
  • Frequent classroom observation to monitor curriculum fidelity
student outcome measures
Student Outcome Measures
  • Pre-test on native language literacy
  • Post-intervention assessment of English reading, writing, speaking/listening
  • Student interview on literacy practices
  • Optional one year follow-up assessment
  • Assessments conducted individually in students’ native languages
study products and outcomes
Study Products and Outcomes
  • Fully developed and evaluated curriculum, with materials, assessment, professional development
  • Data on effective instruction
  • Descriptive data on students and programs
  • Raised visibility of adult ESOL issues around instruction, assessment, professional development