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Title and Abstract of Keynote Presenters

Title and Abstract of Keynote Presenters


Dr. Esther Geva
Department of Human Development and Applied Psycholgy, OISE, University of Toronto, Canada

Title: The development of reading comprehension in ESL children: A longitudinal perspective

Abstract: In recent years there has been growing attention to reading development in second language (L2) children. Much of this research has focused on word level reading processes. Less is known about reading comprehension (RC). An overarching question is whether reading models based on monolinguals are adequate for understanding RC development concurrently and longitudinally in ESL children. The objectives of the presentation are to (a) describe the longitudinal developmental trajectories associated with the development of reading comprehension in elementary school ESL children; (b) compare these trajectories in ESL and monolingual, English as L1 children; (c) examine the role of language skills, reading fluency, and cognitive processes in understanding development in reading comprehension over time. Implications of this work for future research, classroom practices, assessment, and policy will be addressed.

Dr. Linda Siegel
Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education, University of British Columbia, Canada

Title: The Development of Reading Comprehension Skills in Children Learning English as a Second Language

Abstract: This paper will present the results of a longitudinal study of the reading comprehension skills of children learning English as a Second Language (ESL). The role of relevant processes, including phonological, morphological, and syntactic awareness, as pseudoword and word reading fluency were assessed. The performance of the ESL group was compared to that of children whose first language was English (L1). Morphological awareness was found to be the most significant predictor or reading comprehension although syntactic awareness and phonological awareness were also important. In general, the scores of the ESL were similar to those of the L1 group.

Dr. Ludo Verhoeven
Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Presentation to be announced


Dr. David Francis
Department of Psychology, University of Houston, US.

Title: Factors Affecting Students' Comprehension of Text: Implications for Instruction of Immigrant Children

Abstract: This paper will examine factors related to students, schools, and texts that affect students' understanding of what they read, and consider implications for instruction for immigrant children.


Dr. James Cummins
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE, University of Toronto, Canada

Title: The intersection of cognitive and sociocultural factors in the development of reading comprehension among immigrant students

Abstract: The presentation will integrate the findings of international research on the academic development of immigrant students drawing from sources such as the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) (Stanat & Christensen, 2006) and the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth (August & Shanahan, 2006). These data sets will be complemented with the findings of numerous empirical studies from the anthropological and sociological research literature, which point to the influence of sociocultural and sociopolitical influences on the achievement of immigrant and minority group students. A theoretical framework will be presented that integrates the findings and draws out implications for instruction.

Dr. Francoise Armand

departement de didactique, Universite de Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Title: Prise en compte de la diversite linguistique en milieux scolaires plurilingues : l'Eveil aux langues et la comprehension de texte

Abstract: Dans la majorite des grandes villes canadiennes, un grand nombre d'eleves d'origine immigrante sont scolarises dans une langue autre que leur langue maternelle et frequentent des ecoles pluriethiques marquees par la diversite religieuse, culturelle et linguistique. Pourtant au sein de ces ecoles, c'est le plus souvent une norme monolingue qui prevaut dans l'enseignement et lors des activites de comprehension de textes. Dans le cadre de cette presentation, nous nous questionnerons sur les enjeux et les defis de la prise en compte des langues maternelles des eleves immigrants. Nous presenterons egalement des approches, telles que l'Eveil aux langues, susceptibles de preparer ces eleves a un savoir-vivre ensemble dans des societes culturellement et linguistiquement diverses, et ce, a travers le contact avec des textes de langue et de culture differentes. Nous observerons ainsi comment, dans le cadre de ces activites d'Eveil aux langues, les eleves de diverses origines sont amenes a puiser dans toutes les langues de la collectivite et collaborent afin de mettre en commun leurs ressources linguistiques lorsqu'ils doivent donner un sens a un texte.


Dr. Elana Shohamy

School of Education, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Title: Adopting construct valid assessment of reading comprehension for immigrant students: Implementing assessment policy based on research
Elana Shohamy, Tel Aviv University

Abstract: Most research that examines reading comprehension of immigrant students in schools uses subtractive models whereby reading is compared to native speakers; thus the focus of the assessment is mostly on the gaps found between the two groups. Yet, in the past few years it has become clear that immigrant students arrive in the new country (or region) equipped with multiple competencies that had been acquired in the previous areas of residence; still, these wealth of competencies are being overlooked thus raising questions as to the construct validity of these assessment. Even the notion of accommodations builds on the idea of 'temporary assistance' rather than as a fixed knowledge. The result is that in situations when immigrants possess high levels of content literacy in areas such as math, history, science, they often fail on tests due to invalid measurement tools. In this paper I will argue for the creation of a revised construct of reading comprehension that is applicable to immigrant students as it incorporates their specific and unique competencies and demonstrate the advantages that immigrant students have in a number of areas. The proposed construct is partially based on some research findings obtained in a large scale study conducted in Israel on academic achievement of immigrants and which provides convincing evidence of the existence of special competencies. These competencies refer to bilingual competencies, academic and cognitive literacy, multi-modalities as well as evidence how some test items point to bias, once they are analyzed via Differential Item Functioning. The findings will lead to a proposal for revised assessment (and instructional) policies for immigrant students.

Dr. Petra Stanat

Department of Educational Science and Psychology, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany

Title: Promoting reading comprehension in a second language: Policy implications of research evidence.

Abstract: The paper will provide an overview of research findings on specific challenges associated with reading comprehension in a second language. Based on this summary, different approaches to promoting reading comprehension in a second language will be described. Furthermore, the paper will summarize the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these approaches and outline the need for further research. Throughout the presentation, the implications of the findings for policy and practice will be discussed.


Dr. Charles Ungerleider
Canadian Council on Learning

Title: Immigrant Reading Comprehension: Research and Policy

Abstract: The call for evidence-informed decisions makes strange bedfellows of researchers and politicians. In this paper, I will identify the differences between the worlds in which researchers and decision makers live, the different norms to which they adhere, and the different languages they speak to illustrate how these differences impede the relationships between researchers and decision-makers. I will suggest what decision makers and researchers might do to improve their relationship and encourage the use of evidence to inform policies and practices.