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Manipulatives are ideal for use with English language learners.

Second language literacy instruction
In the United States, English language learners (ELLs) are the most rapidly expanding student population, doubling in the past decade. In 2001-2002, one in ten K-12 students spoke a primary language other than English, and the number of ELLs is expected to climb to 40 percent of the total school population by 2050. While ELLs exhibit a wide range of both English and subject matter proficiency, research indicates that students with a primary language other than English are twice as likely to read below grade level and to drop out of school. Certainly, this is partially because many of these students live in poverty and have parents with low levels of education. In addition, they often attend poorly funded schools in urban or rural areas.

Widespread differences of opinion exist as to how we address the needs of ELLs. Some believe that linguistic diversity enriches us, yet others think nothing but English should be spoken in schools and government. Funding also comes into play. Bilingual education is more costly to implement than English-only programs, such as Structured English Immersion (SEI), so this undoubted influences program implementation. In reality, advocates seem to support varied program types and objectives with their research.

Reading Manipulatives products complement bilingual programs and can be core program components in SEI programs. The following are among the many reasons that manipulatives are effective for teaching literacy skills to ELLs.

  • Manipulatives can be easily adapted to suit learner skills or abilities.
  • The intuitive, natural approaches need less explanation, removing language barriers.
  • Manipulatives are less threatening and far more engaging.
  • Sets can be done at any pace and repeated until mastery is attained.
  • Explicit phonemic awareness and blending materials allow ELLs to read English words before they can speak English proficiently.
  • Auditory discrimination and phonics manipulatives incorporate text with vibrant graphics and are useful for teaching English vocabulary.
  • Decoding manipulatives offer abundant practice applying rules as students learn English words and structure.
  • Scrambled sentences teach English syntax as they foster reading comprehension and fluency.