Phonological awareness and adult second language literacy development
The Latino population is the fastest growing linguistic minority in the United States but the educational system in the country is not meeting their needs, as evidenced by the achievement gap, graduation rates, drop out rates, and ultimate educational attainment. Moreover, current administrative policies and trends in educational systems within the individual states are moving from the provision of native language arts instruction and bilingual education to English only programs, and it is within such programs that we must decide how best to meet the needs of this growing population of at risk learners. It is within this social and educational context that this dissertation is carried out.
This dissertation investigates the relationship between phonological awareness (hereafter PA) in a speaker's first and second language and reading success in a second language, namely English. A growing body of work has revealed a strong relationship between phonological awareness and early literacy skills, and PA has been shown to be predictive of future reading success. Moreover, recent work (Geva et al, 2000) has shown that the relationship between PA and decoding is even stronger for decoding in a second language than it is in the native language. Most current research involving adult second language reading has focused on schema, reading strategies, language use, metalinguistic knowledge, the ways in which the L1 influences L2, and Biliteracy. Moreover, most research focuses on learners literate in their native language. This work addresses the important question of how literacy develops in adult second language learners who have low or no literacy skills in their L1 and who are learning to read for the first time in English.
A population of adult learners of ESL enrolled for the first time in English Literacy classes in community based educational settings were followed during a school year and assessed four times on Phonological Awareness and decoding ability, in Spanish and English. This study documents the relationship between PA and learning to read for the first time as adults in a second language.
0279: Language arts
0282: Bilingual education
0282: Multicultural education