Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

January 2004


Published by the Education Alliance at Brown University. Copyright ©2004 Brown University. Used by permission.


This paper highlights the substantial overlap in recommended practices from two emerging areas of educational research: research on the academic literacy development of adolescents and research on English language learners (ELLs) in secondary schools. Specifically, this paper examines instructional principles related to the connection between students’ motivation and engagement and their literacy development as supported by both bodies of literature. These principles include making connections to students’ lives, creating responsive classrooms, and having students interact with each other and with text. This paper is the first of two papers based on the same reviews of the adolescent literacy and adolescent ELL literatures. The focus of the second paper is on content-area teaching and learning strategies that support literacy development (Meltzer & Hamann, under development). With increasing numbers of ELLs attending secondary schools across the country, more content-area teachers are responsible for teaching them, whether or not these teachers have been trained in best practices with ELLs. Our survey of the literature concludes that teacher professional development that focuses on promising practices for engaging adolescents with academic literacy tasks will provide some of the training that content-area secondary school teachers need in order to productively support the academic literacy development of their ELL students. Therefore, if secondary school content-area teachers implemented the promising practices suggested by the Adolescent Literacy Support Framework (Meltzer, 2001) with regard to motivation and engagement in ways supported by the literature on effective instructional practices for ELLs, teachers would be more effective in supporting the academic literacy development of all students.