The present paper synthesizes the international research literature on the educational achievement of immigrant and minority language students by articulating three propositions for which there is strong empirical evidence: (a) print access and literacy engagement play a key role in promoting reading comprehension; (b) the development of bilingual students’ L1 proficiency plays a positive role in L2 academic development; and (c) societal power relations play a direct causal role in promoting school failure among students from subordinated communities. This interpretation of the empirical evidence is contrasted with the conclusions of recent North American and European reviews. For example, the comprehensive review of literacy development among minority students conducted in the United States by the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth acknowledged the legitimacy of bilingual education as a policy option but said very little about the role of literacy engagement in promoting reading comprehension. By contrast, various reports of the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) highlighted the importance of reading engagement for reading achievement but discounted bilingual education as a feasible or realistic policy option. The instructional implications of the present review include the need for educators to promote print access and literacy engagement, teach for cross-lingual transfer, and affirm students’ identities in classroom interactions.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 15, 2011
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