Challenges for ELLs in Reading
English language learners face many obstacles when reading literature in English. Most literature is culture bound. We expect students to have prior knowledge of literary genres such as fairy tales, myths, legends, and tall tales. If the teacher has not activated prior knowledge or built background information, knowing the vocabulary will not solve the problem. ELLs may be able to read the words but it doesn't mean they will understand the text. They are not aware of information that the author left unsaid; the information that "everyone knows."
Here are some specific challenges that ELLs face when learning to read material in English:
o an abundance of idioms and figurative language in English texts
o density of unfamiliar vocabulary
o use of homonyms and synonyms
o grammar usage especially the "exceptions to the rules"
o word order, sentence structure and syntax
o difficult text structure with a topic sentence, supporting details and conclusion
o unfamiliarity with the connotative and denotative meanings of words
o ELLs may not have practice in expressing an opinion about text.
o use of regional U.S. dialects
o fear of participation and interaction with mainstream students
o story themes and endings can be inexplicable
o literary terms for story development are not understood
o unfamiliarity with drawing conclusions, analyzing characters and predicting outcomes
o imagery and symbolism in text are difficult.