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Early identification and intervention for children at-risk for reading failure from both English-speaking and English as a second-language (ESL) speaking backgrounds Lesaux, Nonie Kathleen

Abstract

This study examined the early reading development of native English speaking (L1) and children who speak English as a second language (ESL) who are receiving instruction in English. The study addressed whether there are original differences in pre-reading and language skills between L1 and ESL-speaking children, and whether similar patterns of reading development in English from kindergarten to grade 2 exist across language groups. As well, the study examined which skills in kindergarten identify those children at-risk for reading failure from all language backgrounds. The participants of the study were 978 grade 2 children who were seen as part of a longitudinal study that began in their kindergarten year. Within the sample, there were 790 children who are L1 speakers and 188 children who have a first language other than English and who spoke little or no English upon entry to kindergarten (ESL). In kindergarten, participants were administered standardized tasks of reading and memory as well as experimental tasks of language, phonological awareness, letter identification, rapid naming, and phonological memory. At the end of grade 2, children were administered various tasks of reading, spelling, language, arithmetic, and memory. All children received phonological awareness instruction in kindergarten and systematic phonics instruction in grade 1 in the context of a balanced early literacy program. In kindergarten, 23.8% of L1 speakers were identified as at-risk for reading failure and 37.2% of ESL speakers were identified as at-risk for reading failure. In grade 2, 4.2% of L1 speakers were identified as reading disabled and 3.72% of ESL speakers were identified as reading disabled. By the end of grade 2, the majority of the ESL speakers had attained reading skills that were similar to the L1 group. Although there were differences on each of the measures of reading, reading comprehension, spelling, phonological processing and arithmetic between average and disabled readers in grade 2, the ESL and L1 speakers had similar scores on all these tasks.

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