For English learners, reading isn't always

April 11, 2011

( -- An influential model for teaching reading and comprehension to English learners doesn’t work well for Cantonese-speaking children, according to new research from the University of California, Davis, School of Education.

Yuuko Uchikoshi, an assistant professor of education at UC Davis, will present her findings on Monday, April 11, at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association in New Orleans.

Uchikoshi studied the “Simple View of Reading” model, which posits that reading comprehension depends on an understanding of the meaning of spoken words and, more importantly, an ability to “decode,” or sound out, written words.

The model is used successfully to teach Spanish speakers to read English, probably because Spanish and English share a common writing system and many similar words.

But the system fell short for who speak Cantonese as their first language.

“For Cantonese speakers, we also need to focus on vocabulary – and the earlier, the better,” she said.

This vocabulary-building should begin as early as preschool, so that English learners have similar vocabularies to native English speakers by the time they begin to learn to read, according to Uchikoshi.

The findings have important implications for practice and policy, according to Uchikoshi. “In multicultural societies such as the U.S., having a research-based model of second-language reading comprehension is vital to developing curricula that can address the needs of children from different backgrounds,” she said.

“We need more research on English learners. The bulk of what we have is on Spanish-speaking kids, but we need to focus on some of the others as well.”

Explore further: Reading to kids a crucial tool in English language development

Related Stories

Second language learners recall native language when reading

June 1, 2010

( -- Adults fluent in English whose first language is Chinese retrieve their native language when reading in English, according to new research in the June 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. This study suggests ...

Bilinguals get the blues

March 15, 2011

( -- Learning a foreign language literally changes the way we see the world, according to new research.

Schools lose records; English learners pay

April 11, 2011

( -- Poor recordkeeping keeps California schools from getting all of the funding that they have coming, a failing that especially hurts English learners, according to research from the University of California, ...

Recommended for you

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

The hand and foot of Homo naledi

October 6, 2015

The second set of papers related to the remarkable discovery of Homo naledi, a new species of human relative, have been published in scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Tuesday, 6 October 2015.

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.