“What Works” Study for Adult ESL Literacy Students - Final Report

Heide Spruck Wrigley
Kwang Yoon
Mary Seburn

Most research and practice in second language learning supports the theory that literacy in one language assists literacy development in another language. The reverse hypothesis also is believed to be true—a lack of literacy skills in the native language hinders literacy development in the second language. The “What Works” Study for Adult ESL Literacy Students focuses on adult English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students who lack literacy skills in their native language, as well as English communication skills. These ESL literacy students face the challenge of developing the knowledge, skills, and strategies associated with decoding, comprehending, and producing print, while they still struggle with English.

Researchers found that three instructional strategies—connection to the outside world, use of the student’s native language for clarification in instruction and varied practice and interaction—were related to student learning growth.

Image of Larry Condelli
Institute Fellow and Managing Researcher
Image of Stephanie Cronen
Managing Researcher