My name is Robert Jimenez and I’m at the University of Illinois, Atterbanachampagne.
What is second language reading? Um, I guess I would answer that by saying that second language reading is literacy for students, for children who uh—for whom uh English is a second language would be probably the easiest answer.
For—for myself, second language readers are students um primarily the one’s I’ve worked with have been Latino and they’ve mostly been students who are immigrants or children of immigrants in the United States.
Um, hmm. I guess I could answer that by saying that the learner’s task for second language readers—and again, I’m speaking from my own frame of reference, I’m talking about kids who are primarily Latino, uh kids who are immigrants, the children of immigrants. What they have to do is they—they have to learn to read in a language that um has been learned in context outside of the home and—pri—in many cases primarily in the school—in a school setting. And so the—I think there are a number of issues that confront these kids, that students from mainstream monocultural backgrounds simply don’t have to worry about. Kids from mainstream monocultural backgrounds come to school with a—with a—I would say with a—uh many built in advantages and teachers recognize the kinds of experiences that they’ve had at home and reward those experiences, publicly recognize those experiences whereas they don’t do the same things for students—um, for Latino kids because often times educators aren’t aware of the cultural and linguistic foundations that these kids bring into the schools and into the classroom.
Um, I guess one of the ways I could answer the question of, you know, what are the needs that—that Latino kids have in terms of literacy development and learning are that they have very—often times students have very well defined um desires and needs with respect to literacy learning. But the uses that the students put literacy to may not be the kinds of uses that teachers are familiar with if they’re not from the same community or from the—if they haven’t gone through the immigrant experience, they may not recognize um the very sophisticated and complex forms of literacy that Latino students um both desire and need to function adequately in their community.
Uh, one—one—I guess, one really easy example would be um to think about the roles that—that these kids play in their families. Often times they’re—they’re very key players in their family and—and the adults in their family which may not simply be their parents, might also include aunts and uncles and extended family or even uh unrelated adults, but the—a very key um kind of behavior that they engage in has been described as language brokering. In other words, they often engage in a great deal of translation of both oral and written language for their parents and—and for other adults um that—that they’re familiar with. And that—like I said, I think those are very complex and sophisticated forms of literacy, difficult kinds of behaviors that they engage in and that they’re called to engage in often times on a frequent basis. And um they—they—they don’t get recognized in the classroom. Uh, one of—one of the examples I like to give to my own students at the University of Illinois is that when my daughter started school, because we had read to her a great deal before she started school, um she was publicly recognized as gifted and this—this was a um—a label that she, herself internalized and brought home from school because she had—they had administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test to her and she can—and she scored very highly on that. And—and, of course, one of the reasons she scored highly on it is because of all the language and storybook reading that she’d engaged in at—at home. And I—I would like to see those same kinds of acknowledgements made for students that aren’t coming from a—from a middle class kind of background.
Um, I think one thing that—that mainstream monolingual teachers—and we know that the majority of teachers in our schools are from middle class backgrounds, are often uh young females and they want to teach in schools like the ones that they themselves attended when they were students. They want to work with students that are very much like them and—and what’s problematic is that when they go into their first job they very rarely find those kinds of students or—or if they have those kinds of students they also have students from uh culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. But what they—what they need to know is that the literacy that we teach kids in schools is what I would call—what other researchers have called, “School-based literacy.” And there are—there are—there’s kind of—I guess I would describe it as there are a series of rules and um recognized procedures that members of that particular culture assign to school-based literacy. And if you’re not a part of that group, you have to learn what those rules are. And this can often be a difficult task, I guess, for kids from—from diverse backgrounds. But one—one literacy that—that I haven’t talked about and—and I think it’s probably very obvious, but would be um efforts to maintain communication with friends and relatives from the families original point of origin wherever that might happen to be. So letter writing is extremely important. And um kids see that. I mean I—I saw that in my own uh experience growing up. My father was from Mexico City; my mother was uh of a Swedish background and my parents met in Chicago. But my father engaged throughout my entire life growing up at home in letter writing activities. And that is a literacy. There—there are a number of rules and procedures that you have to follow when you write letters to people who live say in—in the country of Mexico or—or your—your viewed as uh, uh—yeah—your—your writing won’t be accepted if—if you deviate from those rules and procedures. But they’re not the same conventions I think that are taught in—in school.
The practical and immediate dilemmas that face teachers in the schools? Um… (Interruption) Well, there’s the issue of time. Uh, students—especially students who are arriving in the United States during the middle grades and—and at the high school level have a very um—really short period of time in US schools and—and they—and we know from research by people like Virginia Collier and I guess Jim Cummins as well that it takes 5 to 7 years—uh, Virginia Collier has pointed out it takes 6 to 8 years for students who arrive in the United States between the ages of 12 and 15 to attain uh expected grade levels of performance in their academic achievement and they just don’t have that much time. So the dilemma is, you know, what do you do to accelerate their academic achievement in the short amount of time that you have with the students? Um, the research seems to suggest that as long as the students have a well-designed program of instruction that provides linguistically sensitive teaching, that the students will make progress in their English language learning and in their content area achievement. But we don’t have a whole lot of programs like that. One of those programs is a—is dual language immersion. And the nice thing about dual language immersion programs is that they’re designed to go through grade 12 whereas I—I think it’s unique in that respect. So it’s one of the few programs that we know—if a student begins in kindergarten—uh, Virginia Collier and her colleague, Wayne Thomas, have demonstrated that they on average will be performing I think it’s between the 60th and 70th percentile, which is quite an amazing accomplishment for students from working class immigrant back—backgrounds.
Um, it’s different—or the—or the—yeah, the early learning experiences of children who are English language learners is different often with respect to the amount of schooling that they may have had in their country of origin or in their parents country of origin. Kids who begin school in the United States for obvious reasons haven’t attended school in their parents’ country of origin and that seems to be a factor affecting their academic achievement. And it—it—it often seems to be a negative factor. In fact, I—I think that yeah again it’s Virginia Collier’s work where she’s demonstrated that those—kids who begin school between the ages of 5 and 7 take longer to attain uh, you know, grade level performance then students who arrive between the ages of 8 and 11. And the—the diff—the—I guess the distinguishing feature between those two groups of kids is that the latter group has had an opportunity to go to school um in their country of origin, receive instruction through their native language.
Well, I—I suppose that you’ve probably had uh many other interviewees talk about this very topic. Uh, oral language proficiency has a bad correlation with um academic proficiency or academic success. There’s—there’s a—there’s a very loose fit between the two so a student who seems to be very—highly proficient orally isn’t going to necessarily be successful at school-based kinds of tasks.
OK. Yeah, that—that was actually my very first research study where I uh looked at the differences between what we finally ended up calling, I think, competent and less competent bilingual Latino readers. Trying to determine, you know, what was it—in what ways did they think differently about literacy in both English and in Spanish. And I had students um at the middle school levels, uh grades 6 and 7, read a variety of texts in both English and in Spanish and think out loud while they were reading. And the think aloud procedure is actually very simple but it can—it can take a little bit of time to help student engage in that process. In essence what they do is they—you—you have to select text very carefully that you ask students to read. They have to be very high interest. They—you need short text and somehow you’ve got to—you’ve got to find material that will get students’ attention, that they’ll be willing and motivating to read. And then what you do is you ask them to read that text one line at a time. And after they—once they get to the end of the line, then you want them to stop and describe everything that they’ve been thinking about as they read that line of text silently. You want them to read it silently. That’s very important. Um, and I had—for that study I asked um students who had been identified by their teachers as successful bilingual readers. Um, and in this case what that meant was that these kids were performing between the 75th and the 92nd percentile, I believe, on the standardized tests of academic achievement in their reading. And—and what I found was that the—the kids who were performing at those high levels and who were identified as successful by their teachers um in essence viewed their reading in Spanish and in English as essentially the same process. And they talked about that as, you know, when I read in Spanish I have to think about it, I have to evaluate it, I have to make sure that it makes sense. Um, and when I read in English I do the same thing. Those are the kinds of answers that my successful bilingual readers gave me. The kinds of answers that my less successful—actually they were average bilingual readers, they were scoring around the 50th percentile on tests, so not—not doing terribly poorly. But what they would say to me uh when I interviewed them was that um, you know, reading in English and reading in Spanish are two different things. They’re not the same. The words don’t mean the same thing. They don’t sound the same and they don’t look the same. In other words, what I—what I inferred from what they were telling me is that they worked hard to keep their two languages separate and they didn’t see connections between or across the two languages. So that the—the more successful the kids were, the more they understood that being a good Spanish reader could have uh pay off when reading in English. And then when they were actually reading and thinking out loud, what I saw the good bilingual readers doing was they were doing things like um integrating a searching for cognate strategy where they would come across a word like brutality and they would say, “I don’t know what this word means but I do know what the word (speaks Spanish) means in Spanish, which looks a whole lot like brutality. So I’ll check and see whether or not the meaning of that word fits in the context in which I read it.” And—and then they—and they often, of course, check the—the meaning for fit and then they would move—move on. And I thought that was quite exciting. And I found out—subsequently I found out from uh many of my uh adult college, university students that they—they also engage in very similar kinds of behavior. And they use it often to their advantage on—on—on tests like um—oh, the college entrance exams on the vocabulary section. So when they come across a word like ‘pequined’ and they don’t know what it means they—they think well the work (speaks Spanish) in Spanish is a very common word and I’ll look and see, it kind of—means ‘spicy’ and they’ll check and see if that fits and often times it does.
You know, how the students became competent, how they became successful in reading in both English and in Spanish, that was an issue I really didn’t investigate in great depth in that study. Um, I—I sort of just had to assume that these were the smarter kids to begin with, that they made the connection on their own. They figured the system out and saw how connections were made. But I don’t really know that for certain. They may have had extraordinarily sensitive and thoughtful teachers who helped them see how the two languages were related. But I—I don’t know.
In a later study I worked with kids at—at the 7th grade level—it was a middle school—um, who had been identified as—as failing for all practical purposes in reading. Uh, I worked with two different classrooms of students. One was a bilingual special education classroom and the other one had been identified by the school district as a bilingual at-risk classroom. And what those two groups of students differed on was the fact that the kids in the bilingual special education classroom had received most of their instruction here in the United States and they were behind in their literacy performance by three to four grade levels. And the kids in the bilingual at-risk classroom, they were behind three to four grade levels, but only in Spanish because they were recent arrivals to the United States within the last six months. And in both groups of kids—I mean, I was working—I asked the teachers to—to—to point out to me or to introduce to me those students who were experiencing the most difficulty with reading and writing, with literacy in general. Um, and what—what I ended up doing in that project was I um first of all engaged in a—in what I would call sort of a modified language experience approach. I had the students create text that we then transcribed, wrote down, and used as the basis for liter—reading instruction. And I worked with them intensively and one-on-one—well, actually groups of two or groups of three. And—and what I found out, which really kind of surprised me was that these kids—and especially the kids who had been in the United States most of their lives or all of their lives ex—great deal of difficulty with reading fluency and word recognition. So they needed help on—on—on just improving their reading fluency. And so what I did was I—I implemented a kind of a modified um technique that was described by Jay Samuels, I believe. Is his first name Jay? I can’t remember. OK. (Interruption) And—and in essence what we did was we worked for a while with the kids on just uh reading a text once, reading it twice, reading it three times perhaps as a group, chorally, um until they were able to get a reasonable level of, you know, speed and rate that—that did seem—that—that was actually a surprising finding for me. I—I hadn’t expected that and we do need to spend some time on it. But once we got past the—the word recognition and the reading fluency, um then we started—I—I started—I had to slow the kids down so they could think about the text. And what I found is that they really got very excited about implementing what I call bilingual strategies. They liked the searching for cognate strategy. “Do I know that word in Spanish when I don’t recognize it in English?” Um, they liked the translating strategy. “This doesn’t make sense to me, perhaps I can translate this part of the text and—and see if it makes a little more sense that way. Um, they like the transferring strategy. Maybe I studied this in my native language, in bilingual education classroom, or in my home country um and now I can think about it in my new language, which is English. They found those all quite appealing and didn’t—I didn’t have to work too hard to get them willing to try those strategies out. I—I should say though that in working with this group, they were very reluctant to work with me at the beginning. Um, when they found out that I was there to help them with their reading, most of them wanted to leave and I had to spend a lot of time convincing them that what we were going to do was not the same kind of thing that they were accustomed to doing in their classrooms. (Interruption) Thankfully, yes. Yeah, by and large. They—they—they gave me uh their time and—and they stayed. And—and, of course, as—as a researcher we have to get consent. We can’t simply impose an instructional intervention on students. They—they do have to agree and they are free to leave at any time so it is important to explain carefully what it is you’re going to be doing. One of the ways that I do that is I—when I first meet kids from bilingual Latino backgrounds I—I use no English in my interactions with them for quite awhile. We—we only use Spanish and that seems to help establish rapore.
Um, yeah I was going to say that, you know, what would help teachers depends on what kinds of a teacher they are. But if they’re monolingual and—and they—and they are from a mainstream middle class background, uh I think there’s a—there really are a wide variety of different kinds of things that they can do with their students. There’s a wonderful article written by um, I think it’s Ann Katz and Tamara Lucas in TESOL Quarterly 1994 that in essence just gives a whole long list of things that—that monolingual teachers can do for bilingual students in their classroom. And some of them probably very obvious but their not always obvious unless someone points it out. But using cooperative learning groups and encouraging the students once they understand what the task is that they’ve been given to use their native language to talk to one another, to interact with one another, to clarify um information that they may not have understood when it was being presented in English, to pair students up with other students who might be more proficient bilingually so that they can ask those clarifying questions. That’s one very easy kind of solution. Making sure that they have materials and books in their classroom in the student’s native language that can serve as a resource. Making sure that kids have bilingual dictionaries ready and available. Um, not punishing them for using their native language. I’ve actually observed in schools um Latino students talking to one another in Spanish in situations where it was very obvious that they were completely on task and doing the kind the of work that they had been assigned by their teachers, get yelled at for using um a language other then English, in this case it was Spanish. A librarian asking them to leave the library because they weren’t speaking English, which I thought was quite um sad and obviously uh very de-motivating to kids who are actually trying to learn something.
Yeah, uh what I would do—for bilingual teachers, I think what they need to understand is that when they think about Cummins theory, “The Interdependence Hypothesis,” that describes or—or it lays out the basic idea of—of language transfer and that is that when students receive instruction through their native language if their receiving I guess adequate input in their second language and they have adequate motivation, that they will transfer what they learned from their first language learning experience to experiences in their second language, I think they need to keep in mind that kids don’t always do that as automatically as—as some people may have led them to believe. They need to really um monitor carefully whether or not students are making transfer. I—I believe very strongly that kids can transfer that information, but sometimes they need a little help and they need a little prompting. In my foundations of bilingual education classroom, one of the assignments I give my students is to go out on campus and find former graduates of bilingual education programs and interview them and find out what their experiences have been. And a lot of times—sometimes those experiences have been very negative; sometimes they’ve been very positive. But one of the students um that was interviewed by a—a student I have right now was a—a young woman who had grown up in the United States, received all of her instruction in English, but when she was 11 years old in the 5th grade her family decided to move to Guatemala. Now this was a young lady who was orally proficient in Spanish but had no academic training in Spanish. So she couldn’t read and write in Spanish. She could read and write in English, but when she got to Guatemala—now here’s a classic case where you’d expect transfer to occur. It should have occurred, you know, automatically. It should have just happened. But she experienced an incredible amount of difficulty, struggled tremendously. Um, what saved her was that her parents hired a private tutor to help her with her Spanish literacy and she finally was able to make the connection. But it was—it was a real struggle for her and it took about a year for her to see how the two systems were interrelated and interconnected. And this is a very intelligent woman. She—now she’s a—a university student at Illinois. She has a pile of academic awards. So she’s not—she’s not a slow learner by any means, but transfer didn’t happen for her the way that the theory has been laid out. So I think kids need to be monitored. They need to be—they need to be—things need to be explained to them, how you make the connections across the two languages.
Yeah, uh one of—going back to my first study, one of the students in 7th grade, she was reading a text uh—I believe she was reading the text in Spanish and the—the topic of the text were—was a—was “Blackholes in Outer Space.” And she said (speaks Spanish). I know that word in Spanish. That means ‘holes’ and (speaks Spanish) means ‘black’. And that was interesting. I got to hear the translation process going on. Oh, that sounds a whole lot like ‘blackholes. Um, and we read about that in English and our science class so I bet this is about the same topic. So you can see that—and this is a very intelligent student, one of my better performers and yet she still had to go through this kind of step-by-step process before she made the connection between what she was reading in Spanish and what she had already learned in English. And, of course, this operates in both directions. It doesn’t always operate uh, you know, from native language to second language. Sometimes it operates from second language to—to native language. But it is interesting to see that when you interview and talk to kids how they do that. Uh, my sense is that the students who struggle, the—the more average performing kids have a more difficult time with this process and I think that’s where good instruction can help them make the connection.
Hmm. Probably one of the more important things that I would add to—yeah—my discussion of bilingual strategies is that you don’t want to forget uh other strategies that would be common to all proficient and successful readers. The strategy that all—all of my students—and I—I interviewed—I—yeah, I worked with highly successful Anglo monolingual readers as well as successful bilingual Latino readers was that the—the primary strategy they were using was that of making inferences and making—and the inference—the primary kind of inference that they were making was connecting information and experiences that they had had either in school or out of school to information they were finding in a text. I think that—that may be one of the most important st—I mean that’s actually—you actually get to see comprehension in action when kids describe how they connect what they already know or—or have experience with information they’re finding in a text. What I often see teachers doing when they’re working with kids in their reading groups is they work real hard to keep the kids on task and teachers often feel like staying on task means we don’t talk about anything except the information in the text. And I think if you’re doing that, you may actually be doing the students a—an incredible disservice because you may actually be removing them from the source or one of the major raw materials of comprehension which is their own background and experience.
Um, I guess the—yeah why. That—that is a very hot topic in the field of—of second language literacy right now. Just exactly how is second language reading and writing different from first language reading and writing? Um, probably the primary evidence for the fact that they’re very different is—are the extremely low levels of academic achievement that we see for students who are English language learners. I mean it’s—it’s a situation that’s been described by Richard Valencia who’s at the University of Texas as a problem that has persistent, pervasive, and disproportionate. It’s persistent because it’s uh—it’s maintained itself over a long, long period of time, ever since—uh, over one-third of Mexico’s territory was acquired from—by the United States, ever since Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States in 1898. It’s pervasive because wherever you find Latino students, you find problems with academic achievement and it’s disproportionate because you see much higher rates of academic failure among kids from Latino backgrounds. So I think that’s one of the primary indicators that we have a problem. And some—something that’s being done currently is not very effective for kids who are learning English as a second language. Um, secondly I would say that the reason teachers need to concern themselves with this problem or with this situation is that I think there’s a lot more that we could be doing to help kids succeed. And most teachers like it when their students succeed. It makes them feel better in terms of what it is that they’re doing. I think most teachers generally have their students best interest at heart and want to do a good job. And if you have Latino kids in your classroom or you have recent immigrant students in your classroom, I think there are a number of things that can be done to enhance their—their—their learning. What was the second part of your question? I think I left that off. (Interruption) OK.
I grew up hearing Spanish on an occasional basis. So I had a—I think I had some background knowledge. I didn’t study—I studied it formally throughout high school and into college and then as a—as a teenager I went and lived with my family—my—my father’s brother, my uncle in Mexico for a couple of years.
Yeah, I guess everybody’s personal experiences can be different from that of—from others. But you’re right. It was a very, very long process to become what I would consider literate in Spanish. Um, four years of high school Spanish. I don’t know that I was the world’s best student in high school. Um, I spent a great deal of time in—living in Spain. I spent time living in Mexico. I—I attended a university in Mexico and received my undergraduate degree there and that—I probably wasn’t fully literate in Spanish until I was finished with my degree in Mexico. Um, and I struggled a great deal in some of my classes that—that had um heavy amounts of reading in Spanish. Uh, some of the—some of the things that I did to—to succeed in my, you know, as—as a college undergraduate was I guess I was fortunate and that a lot of the textbooks that are used in Mexico are translations from English. So I was able to go and find the English language version of the text and use that. Um, I leaned very extensively on my Mexican uh peers to help me out and—especially algebra. I remember spending huge amounts of time with my uh Mexican classmates uh working, I guess, in cooperative learning kinds of situations. So those—it—it was that kind of support and help and—and driving my professors crazy. Spending a lot of time in their office asking lots of questions after class that I think got me through some of my classes. So, yeah, there was nothing easy about it. It—it required a great deal of sustained effort over a long period of time. And, I guess, um as a—I would view Spanish as my second language and I would say that I was probably more motivated then most because I viewed learning Spanish as my birthright and something that uh the—the schools in the United States didn’t—didn’t provide for me.
I guess the question is “What are some factors that might account for success and others that account for failure for kids?” Um, hmm. Probably lots and lots of factors. Uh, I—I think I like a lot of the statements that my colleague Louise Mole at the University of Arizona has made about uh Latino student literacy learning um statements such as, “Students are as smart as the—the—as the curriculum allows them to be.” Uh, “Students um transfer when it occurs is always socially arranged meaning that when it doesn’t occur it’s because somebody has impeded it along the way or hasn’t provided the necessary support and scaffolding to make it happen.” Uh, what would be some of the other factors involved in success? U (Interruption) I think kids from—from Latino backgrounds so very seldom have access to materials that are in any way meaningful to them, that reflect their own experience, that show kids like them or people like them from their own communities, I think—and again, this is something that the kids from mainstream backgrounds simply take for granted. Nobody ever thinks about it, that they receive a steady diet of these kinds of materials. But students from language minority backgrounds, if they do see any kind of culturally relevant or familiar materials, it’s—it’s a—it’s on a very sporadic and hit and miss basis. That would be another extremely important variable.
What I’d like teachers to think about a great deal then what I’ve actually seen when I go out and do classroom observation studies is that kids need the very best instruction possible. They need—teachers need to use everything that we know about first language literacy learning and instruction and they need to modify and adapt those methods and techniques so that they’re successful with kids who are not from mainstream backgrounds. And I think that uh what I’d like teachers to do is I want them to spend time working with the kids. What I often see—and this is—it’s not that teachers are doing bad instruction, it’s that they’re doing no instruction at all. That students—the students who are in most need of good instruction, what I see them doing when I go into classrooms—this was in this bilingual special ed classroom—their sitting in front of a computer with a drawing program for hours at a time. Um, I see students uh sort of isolated in the back corner of the classroom and their asked to listen to records rather then being uh taught in—in sort of careful—carefully thought out, planned uh ways that are designed to help them actually improve their—their literacy behaviors. I want to see a lot more instruction. If there was nothing else that happened, I—I guess I would like to see teachers—even if they’re making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and finding ways to improve the le—the learning of their students. And what I have found for Latino students—boy, this to me was the most exciting finding from one of my recent studies was that the kids—kids who you might think are the least likely to want to become literate often get the very most excited about reading when somebody actually demonstrates over a sustained period of time that they really care about their literacy learning and not only do they care about it, but they have a plan for helping them accomplish that success. And so I—I—I remember kids who I would say—you know, most people might—or a lot of people might look at them and say, “Boy, this is—this is a student from a very, very rough background.” I mean working with kids in pre-want-to-be gang behaviors. Um, very willing to work hard and focus their attention on—on—on reading behaviors, just that learning how to recognize words and improve their reading fluency if somebody is willing and capable of—of helping them through that process.
Well, yeah. In terms of the knowledge base, I mean one of the presentations I did this morning here at the national reading conference was—was talk about what we know um in terms of what’s already available in the literature, and—and—and research that is readily available. And I likened the situation particularly with respect to literacy instruction to a graph with an x- and a y-axis. And you could literally place—we have a couple of studies in the upper right hand quadrant. We have a study or two over here in the upper left hand quadrant. One or two down at the—the bottom right hand and so on and so forth. In other words, the—the—the state of the art right now is much sketchier then those of us in the field would like. And it’s not due to any failings on the part of researchers, it’s that very little funding has been available, that to focus on this topic. Um, I’d like people to pay more attention to the research that’s already there. There is an extensive body of research, but it’s just simply not enough of it that addresses all the issues and questions that we have about student’s literacy development. Um, particularly for kids from immigrant working class backgrounds.
What do we know? We know very little about early literacy instruction. We have a few studies in that area. Um, there is work that’s been done by uh Jennifer Battle and uh—and um Jill Fitzgerald on teaching kids to read in English in the early grades. There are a few case studies out there. Um, we know a little bit about teaching kids to read in Spanish in the early grades. Uh, I think of the work of uh Claude Goldenberg there and some of his colleagues. Um, we have some excellent reviews of the literature. I think people—this—that would be a good place to start if you’re new to the field. Um, for—for example, Professor Georgia Garcia has written uh a review of the literature that uh was recently published in the third addition of the handbook on reading research. We have a review that was written in the second addition by Rosemary Weber. Um, let’s see. Joe Fitzgerald has written a review of the research. I think those are—those would be really good places to start.
Yeah, one of the issues that I haven’t talked about at all was really the political dimension and aspect of literacy learning for students who are from—from working class uh immigrant backgrounds. I—I think right now we’re in a period of really sustained reactionary, conservative backlash against a lot of the games that have been made in the field and we’re—we’re running the risk right now of losing an incredible amount of work that’s been built up over the past 30 years because of uh cooptation of things like citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives that are used by I think uh manipulative politicians who advance their own political agendas. (Interruption) Um, it’s a situation that’s very troubling and—and frightening. To tell you the truth, um I—I look at—right now recently in the news in the New York Times, a great deal has been made of the fact that kids in the early grades are—have made some minuscule games in school districts that have banned bilingual education. Um, these kinds of games are not at all un—unexpected. We know from—from uh reviews of the research on—on bilingual program effectiveness that students placed in all English submersion situations will make some games up until about the 3rd grade at which point then they make um precipitous declines in their levels of academic achievement. But the mainstream media seems a oblivious to that fact and we’ve known that since 1981 and maybe even earlier. Um, but I think we’re going to see as time goes by that—that we’re going to lose a generation of students. Their academic achievement is going to fall far short of where I think most of us would like it to be. (Interruption) That’s a hard one to predict. That’s uh—hopefully we will. I mean the (speaks Spanish) decision, I believe was made in the 1980’s um says that when bilingual programs are evaluated by the Office for Civil Rights, that they have to be adequately staffed, they have to be based on a sound theory of instruction, and that the—the progress of the students has to be monitored to see if they actually are making progress. Um, hopefully the uh, um those who are doing program evaluations will see that—that this—this regime that has now been put into place is—is failing the students.