Learning Difficulties in English Language Learners

By Geva, Esther | Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

Learning Difficulties in English Language Learners


Geva, Esther, Perspectives on Language and Literacy


The domain of assessment and intervention involving minority children, adolescents, and those learning In bilingual programs has been a major concern for some time. Problems in this area include both under-identification of learning difficulties (Limbos & Geva, 2001) and over-identification of learning difficulties (Cummins, 1984, 1991) of English language learners (ELLs). Recently, however, there has been an increase in research on the typical development of various language and literacy skills in these groups on how learning disabilities manifest themselves in ELLs, how to assess them, and on promising approaches for intervention.

This issue of Perspectives on Language and Literacy explores some of this research by bringing together researchers from the United States, Canada, and Elong Kong who carry out research on learning disabilities In language minority ELL contexts (Fraser, Adelson, & Geva; Linan-Thompson; Wiener) and in children who are attending bilingual programs such as French immersion (D'Angelo, Hipfner-Boucher, & Chen) or EnglishChinese programs in Hong Kong (Ho, Fong, & Si). Four of the articles address research that pertains to language and literacy skills in ELL contexts, the challenges in identifying learning disabilities among these learners, and implications for practice (D'Angelo et al.; Fraser et al.; Ho et al.; Linan-Thompson). The fifth article (Wiener) addresses the challenges of communication with families of culturally and linguistically diverse children or adolescents with learning difficulties.

The articles in this issue, are written in plain language, yet provide solid, research-based observations and carefully considered advice and guidelines for working with children and adolescents who in addition to being second language learners may have a learning disability.

[Sidebar]

ELL Terminology

As noted by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), "the terms used to describe English language learners blur, overlap, and change with time, as well as with shifting socio-political dynamics. …

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