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Building Consensus: Future Directions for Research on English Language Learners at Risk for Learning Difficulties

by Nonie K. Lesaux - 2006

The growing population of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools and the low academic achievement of many of these learners have been the subject of much debate. A significant related issue is determining the sources of ELLs' difficulty, namely, understanding the distinction between learning disabilities (LD) and learning difficulties due primarily to contextual factors and second-language learning. This article addresses the future directions for research in this area, with an emphasis on the need to build consensus through converging lines of evidence. Issues of sample definition, study design, and methods are discussed; also emphasized in the article is that in order to answer questions about the sources of difficulty for ELLs who are struggling, an understanding of the trajectories and experiences of those not experiencing difficulties is needed. Throughout the article, parallels are drawn between this emerging field of research and the LD research conducted with monolingual English speakers. An example of a study for which the design, analyses, and dissemination relates to many of the issues raised in the article is presented.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 11, 2006, p. 2406-2438
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12810, Date Accessed: 9/27/2021 1:02:52 AM

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About the Author
  • Nonie Lesaux
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    NONIE K. LESAUX is Assistant Professor, Human Development & Education, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on the reading development of English Language Learners (ELLs) and the source of difficulties for ELLs who are struggling readers. Lesaux served as Senior Research Associate for the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth, and is a contributing author to the report of the Panel. Her work has also been published in Developmental Psychology, Journal of Learning Disabilities, and Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal.
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