Burgoyn, K, Whiteley, H.E. and Hutchinson, Jane Margaret
The development of comprehension and reading-related skills in children learning English as an additional language and their monolingual, English-speaking peers.
British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/000709910X504122
Background. A significant number of pupils in UK schools learn English as an additional language (EAL). Relative differences between the educational attainment of this group and monolingual, English-speaking pupils call for an exploration of the literacy needs of EAL learners.
Aims. This study explores the developmental progression of reading and listening comprehension skills and a range of reading-related skills in EAL learners, whose first language is of South Asian origin, and their monolingual peers.
Sample. Participants were 39 children learning EAL and 39 monolingual, English-speaking children who were all in school Year 3 at the start of the study.
Method. Children completed standardized measures of comprehension, vocabulary, reading accuracy, and reading fluency in school Year 3 and again in Year 4.
Results. The results suggest that, although children learning EAL often demonstrate fast and accurate reading accuracy skills, lower levels of vocabulary knowledge place significant constraints on EAL learners' comprehension of spoken and written texts.
Conclusions. Reciprocal relationships between vocabulary and comprehension may lead to increasing gaps in reading comprehension between monolingual and EAL pupils over time. It is proposed that support for the development of vocabulary skills in children learning EAL is needed in early years' classrooms.
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