Using Language to Promote Literacy in Young English Language Learners


  • Dr. Lama K. Farran University of West Georgia
  • Dr. Mona W. Matthews Georgia State University



oral language, ELLs, literacy development


All children walk into our schools using ways they have learned to communicate and problem solve within their homes and communities. These "ways of knowing" are important, familiar, and valued because children have learned them at the knee and by the sides of those they care about the most. As educators, we need to value the "ways of knowing" or "funds of knowledge” (Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) that accompany all students to school. However, for English language learners (ELLs) or children who first language is not English, if we don't know about their communities and homes, we are teaching blind, so to speak. In this paper, we focus on one foundational area for early literacy development -- oral language as a window into ELL's cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and outline ways teachers can become familiar with their ELLs' "ways of knowing." First, we discuss language as a phenomenon that evolves naturally and serves as the basis upon which literacy develops. Then we offer a number of suggestions for ways teachers can enhance language to benefit young children's literacy development in the preschool through 2nd grade period.



Author Biographies

  • Dr. Lama K. Farran, University of West Georgia

    Dr. Lama K. Farran ([email protected]) CCC-SLP is an Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of West Georgia. Her teaching and research interests center on the development of language as a basis for literacy in young monolingual and bilingual children, with and without developmental disorders.


  • Dr. Mona W. Matthews, Georgia State University

    Dr. Mona W. Matthews ([email protected]) is a Professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University. She teaches graduate courses in literacy development and literacy methods. Her research focuses on early literacy with an emphasis on reading acquisition and language development.


Using Language to Promote Literacy in Young English Language Learners






Research and Practitioner Articles

How to Cite

Farran, L. K., & Matthews, M. W. (2016). Using Language to Promote Literacy in Young English Language Learners. Georgia Journal of Literacy, 39(2), 18-23.

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