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Reading List: Second Language Issues in Literacy Instruction

**August, D. & T. Shanahan. (2006). Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth (Executive Summary). Manwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Available at


This executive summary outlines the major findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. The panel identified five broad topics to investigate: development of literacy, cross-linguistic relationships, sociocultural contexts and literacy development, instruction and professional development, and student assessment. The panel notes that research on acquiring literacy in a second language is still quite limited.


Freeman, D. & Y. Freeman. (2003). Teaching English Learners to Read: Learning or Acquisitions? In G. Garcia (Ed.) English Learners: Reaching the Highest Level of English Literacy. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Available for purchase at


This chapter contrasts two views of second-language development (learning and acquisition), two views of reading (word recognition view and sociopsycholinguistic view), and two views of reading proficiency. The authors assert that attempts to teach ELs to read using programs that emphasize phonics and decoding skills will not succeed with the majority of ELs


National Research Council. (1998). Cognitive Aspects of School Learning: Literacy Development and Content Learning in August, D. & K. Hakuta (Eds). Educating Language-Minority Children. National Academy Press. Available for purchase at:


This chapter summarizes research on the cognitive aspects of how children acquire literacy and content area knowledge in school, with a particular focus on reading, writing and subject matter knowledge.


Shanahan, T. & I. Beck. (2006). Effective Literacy Teaching for English-Language Learners in D. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners. Manwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Available for purchase at:


This chapter focuses on studies of two approaches to literacy improvement: enhanced instruction in particular elements of literacy (e.g., phonemic awareness, phonics, sight vocabulary) and all other interventions aimed at improving literacy among ELs. This reading is included for the more research inclined.


**This document is considered a priority reading.