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The Literacy Gaps

Bridge-Building Strategies for English Language Learners and Standard English Learners

The authors provide strategies, examples, and tools to address the gap between ELLs and texts, socio-cultural differences between teachers and ELLs, and language differences between ELLs and peers.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412975216
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2009
  • Page Count: 272
  • Publication date: June 11, 2012

Price: $43.95

Price: $43.95
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"The book makes a contribution to the education of English language learners. It provides practical instructional suggestions for teachers of both ELLs and SELs that are informed by a deep understanding of theories of second language and second dialect acquisition and the development of reading and writing proficiencies."
—Guadalupe Valdés, Professor of Education
Stanford University

"The concepts of gaps and bridges are clearly articulated up front and provide a well-structured theme that unites the various parts of the text. The use of this structure provides a logical and coherent mechanism for providing a complete picture of the problem—the literacy gap between ELs and native speakers—and a means for addressing this problem."
—Kristina Anstrom, Senior Research Scientist
The George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education

Build bridges of support so English language learners can learn alongside their peers!

English language learners (ELLs) and standard English learners (SELs) face multiple gaps as they strive to achieve, so educators need to take a holistic, comprehensive approach to bridge those gaps and meet the needs of ELLs and SELs in the classroom.

Based on an original, well-researched framework, this much-needed resource provides practical strategies for supporting learning and success for ELLs. The authors provide strategies, examples, and classroom tools to address:

  • The gap between students and texts: covering word recognition, background knowledge, comprehension, and academic language development
  • The gap between students and teachers: including socio-cultural differences between teachers and students, and teacher perceptions and expectations
  • The gap between students and their peers: discussing language proficiency differences, grouping strategies, and grade-level and schoolwide programs

The Literacy Gaps helps educators give ELLs the skills they need to close the most important gap of all: the achievement gap.

Key features

  • The book is designed around an original conceptual framework that describes three gaps facing English language learners (ELLs)—gaps between the learner and the text, between the learner and the teacher, and between the learner and his/her peers
  • The authors provide an array of practical strategies for bridging the three gaps and meeting the needs of ELLs in the classroom
  • Each strategy is accompanied by a classroom example and a thorough explanation of effective classrom implementation
  • Templates of conversational guides enable the reader to "hear" supportive, scaffolded language between instructor and students


Ivannia Soto photo

Ivannia Soto

Ivannia Soto, PhD , is a professor of education and the director of graduate programs at Whittier College, where she specializes in language acquisition, systemic reform for English language learners (ELLs), and urban education. She began her career in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), where she taught English and English language development to a population of 99.9% Latinos, who either were or had been multilingual learners. Before becoming a professor, Soto also served LAUSD as a literacy coach as well as district office and county office administrator. She has presented on literacy and language topics at various conferences, including the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), the California Association for Bilingual Association (CABE), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the National Council of Urban Education Associations. As a consultant, Soto has worked with Stanford University’s School Redesign Network (SRN), WestEd, and CABE, as well as a variety of districts and county offices in California, providing technical assistance for systemic reform for ELLs and Title III. Recently, Soto also directed a CABE bilingual teacher and administrator program across California.
Soto has authored and coauthored 12 books, including The Literacy Gaps: Bridge-Building Strategies for English Language Learners and Standard English Learners; ELL Shadowing as a Catalyst for Change, a best seller that was recognized by Education Trust–West as a promising practice for ELLs in 2018; Moving From Spoken to Written Language With ELLs; the Academic English Mastery four-book series; the Common Core Companion four-book series for English language development; Breaking Down the Wall; and Responsive Schooling for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Together, the books tell a story of how to equitably engage and include multilingual learners by ensuring that they gain voice and an academic identity in the classroom setting. Soto is executive director of the Institute for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (ICLRT) at Whittier College, whose mission it is to promote relevant research and develop academic resources for ELLs and Standard English learners (SELs) via linguistically and culturally responsive teaching practices/
June Hetzel photo

June Hetzel

June Hetzel, professor and dean of the School of Education at Biola University, grew up in the culturally and linguistically rich basin of the San Francisco Bay Area in the Franklin McKinley School District in south San Jose. Her childhood background shaped her passion for access for all learners. Her teaching experiences in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Africa, and Thailand have provided her with insight into working with elementary and secondary students and adults in multilingual, multicultural settings. Additionally, she has enjoyed travel throughout Europe and on a trip to Oxford University, presented “The Three Literacy Gaps and Title III of NCLB,” co-authored with Ivannia Soto-Hinman, at the Oxford Round Table at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University, upon which the book The Literacy Gaps is based. In partnership with Ivannia Soto-Hinman, the model has been refined for ELLs and SELs, developing into its current form.

With 30 years in education, Hetzel remains passionate about literacy. She facilitates local volunteer tutoring partnerships and she and her husband, Geoff, enjoy leading teams of literacy teachers overseas to work with English language learners. A long-time member of the International Reading Association and the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Hetzel has authored many literacy resource books and currently freelances for Purposeful Design Publications, serving as a content editor for two textbook series, including the English as a Foreign Language series. She earned her MS in reading education from Cal State Fullerton and her PhD from Claremont Graduate University.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents


About the Authors

1. Introduction to the Achievement Gap and the “Literacy Gaps Model”

Demographic Patterns

Language Spoken and Socioeconomic Factors

ELL Achievement

Standard English Learners

The National Literacy Panel

The Literacy Gaps Model

Overview of Book Chapters


2. Decoding: Word Recognition Strategies and Fluency


The Gap Between the Student and the Text

Decoding and Readability of Text


English Language Development

Background Knowledge


3. Background Knowledge and Experiences

Schema Fit: Becoming a Text Participant

Context: Becoming a Text User (Active Participant)

Linkages: Becoming a Text Analyst (Reading Critically)


4. Comprehension

Comprehension Gap

Academic Language

Passage Comprehension


5. English Language Development and Academic English

Specialized Language Needs of ELLs

Needs of Standard English Learners

Academic Language Development Lesson Plan


6. Perceptions and Expectations

Were Called on Less Frequently and Were Provided Less Time to Respond

Were Given the Answer Rather Than Helped to Solve the Problem Themselves

Were Criticized More Often, and Praised Less

Were Paid Less Positive Attention, but Disciplined More Strictly

7. Cultural Differences

Connecting the Literacy Domains in Second Language Acquisition

Parental Involvement and the Literacy Domains

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Comprehensive Education

Multidimensional Approaches


Transformative Learning

Emancipatory Education


8. Socioeconomic Differences

Implicit and Explicit Codes

Discourse Patterns

Interactional Styles

Written Language Codes

Resource Access


9. Language Variables

Academic Language Competence


10. Grouping Strategies

Micro Structures That Bridge Language Proficiency Gaps

Macro Structures That Bridge Language Proficiency Gaps


11. Beyond the Gap/Envisioning the Future

The Literacy Gaps Model






Price: $43.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.