Structured story reading and retell related to listening comprehension and vocabulary acquisition among English language learners



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Texas A&M University


This study compared the oral language development, vocabulary, and comprehension of English language learners (ELLs) in second grade who were participating in a five-year longitudinal study, Project English Language and Literacy Acquisition (Project ELLA) (Lara-Alecio, Irby, & Mathes, 2003), after two years implementation. For this comparison study, 72 students were randomly selected from students participating in an enhanced and a typical transitional bilingual education program. The students in the enhanced transitional bilingual classroom received structured story reading, and practiced retelling and story grammar for two consecutive years. Conversely, comparison group of students continued with a typical instructional program. Retell and comprehension question measurements from two stories were obtained from both groups, and in both English and Spanish. The first and second research questions focused on oral language development in both English and Spanish. Findings were measured by the length of the retell. The first question demonstrated statistically significant results in all measurements: number of Tunits, number of words, and number of sentences in English. Statistically significant results were also found in number of words in Spanish for the second question. However, the number of T-units and the number of sentences in Spanish for the second question demonstrated non-significant results. The third research question focused on the vocabulary growth of the student after he or she was exposed to explicit and direct vocabulary instruction. The treatment group statistically outperformed the control in this respect. The fourth and fifth questions addressed comprehension as measured by story grammar in English and Spanish and leveled questions addressed at the end of the first and last story. Students participating in the treatment group demonstrated greater comprehension of the story. The students participating in the treatment group after having participated in such a program for two years also demonstrated how structured story reading strongly benefits oral language growth, greater vocabulary knowledge and higher comprehension in English literacy acquisition without forcing students to lose their first language.