Reading research identifies 5 essential elements in reading instruction; Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension. So the question was how do these elements relate to reading instruction for ELL’s? Basically, all these elements need to be taught but will need to be adjusted to meet the needs of the ELL’s. We will discuss Phonemic Awareness and Phonics in this post.
Phonemic awareness might be difficult for an ELL, especially if they don’t have enough experience with English to differentiate the sounds that differ from those of their native language. Things that will need to be included into your lessons are instruction of English sounds and continual practice with sounds that might be confusing (i.e., /b/ and /v/ for speakers of Spanish or /r/ and /l/ for speakers of Japanese). Also, if a student is already literate in their native language then phonemic awareness should transfer over. It will not need to be relearned. Instead the ELL will need to become familiar with English sounds and distinguish sounds that are different from their native language.
A teacher of ELL students may need to become aware of phonemes present in their students native language. Phonemes that do not exist or are different may be more difficult for the students to master and will require continual support. Also, the use of songs or poems like “Miss Mary Mack” can be used to help teach phonemic awareness because of their brevity and repetition.
Phonics can also pose problems because often ELL’s have a hard time discriminating between similar sounds. The most effective instruction will combine systematic phonics instruction with a print rich environment. Websites like English-4Kids offers free printable phonics worksheets to help support the teacher in phonics instruction.