Effective Teaching Practices for Academic Literacy Development of Young Immigrant Learners

Effective Teaching Practices for Academic Literacy Development of Young Immigrant Learners

Cate Crosby (University of Cincinnati, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6042-7.ch063
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Abstract

Immigrant children are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2008), young immigrant learners represent 5 percent of all school-aged youth in the United States, and nearly one in four speaks English with difficulty. Furthermore, young immigrant learners are a diverse group. Some are born in the United States, while some come from other countries. Some are at grade level and educated in their native language, while others are not. Consequently, they offer complicated educational challenges because of their differing linguistic and cultural proficiency levels in their native languages as well as in English. With these considerations in mind, how do we effectively educate this growing group of learners in our schools? In particular, how do we effectively develop their academic literacy? The purpose of the study is threefold: 1) to identify the academic literacy needs of young immigrant learners, 2) to identify and categorize the pedagogical strategies the teachers used for meeting these needs and the underlying second language acquisition, literacy, educational theories, and 3) to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of these strategies.
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Background

Characteristics of Academic Literacy

For young immigrant learners, developing academic literacy can be a difficult task because they do not necessarily understand what it is. Traditionally, academic literacy has been defined as “the ability to read and write and compute in the form taught and expected in formal education” (Ogbu, 1990). For many years, this particular definition of literacy has been upheld in school curricula. With the influence the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation has on the PK-12 curriculum, academic literacy is still predominantly defined within this context as nothing more than the ability to read and write. Many researchers of academic literacy have recognized this definition as being too narrow, and recent research has extended the definition by examining other characteristics of it.

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