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RMLE Online

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Recent data indicate that many adolescent English language learners (ELLs) comprehend English texts at only a limited literal level. The purpose of this research synthesis was to systematically identify and describe the research related to the English reading comprehension of middle grades ELLs while also making practical connections to instruction. Parameters were established to determine whether the collected research studies met the purpose of the synthesis and the standards for quality research, using the guiding principles for scientific research set forth in the National Research Council’s Scientific Research in Education. Three themes emerged across the 11 identified studies: (a) the essential role of vocabulary knowledge in ELLs’ English reading comprehension, (b) the role of first language and transfer in ELLs’ reading comprehension, and (c) the role of effective instruction in enhancing ELLs’ English reading comprehension. In this paper, we discuss the findings and their implications for classroom instruction and note substantive and methodological concerns that should be addressed in future research.


Published online by Taylor & Francis under a Creative Commons Attribution License in RMLE Online, on 25 Aug 2015. DOI: 10.1080/19404476.2012.11462097.