Language and literacy interventions for children with English as an additional language: A systematic review of the evidence.

5th November 2019 : 13:00 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Emily Oxley, University of Leeds

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room G/H

Convener: Hamish Chalmers

Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar Series


Worldwide, billions of children begin to learn a second language in early childhood (Bhatia & Ritchie, 2013). In the UK as of January 2018, 21.2% of pupils in primary schools speak ‘English as an additional language’ (EAL). This talk presents a synthesis of evidence regarding the effectiveness of language and literacy interventions targeting children with EAL. It updates the systematic review by Murphy and Unthiah (2015), using the same methodology. Four databases were searched resulting in 2217 records identified. After screening 25 interventions, found in 26 studies, were eligible for inclusion. The results provide collective evidence that explicit vocabulary instruction and targeted oral language practice yield language gains for EAL learners, with a tendency for larger intervention gains in learners with the lowest initial pre-test scores. Shared reading interventions show positive effects when combined with the pre-teaching of vocabulary, embedded definitions into the text, or post-reading reinforcement activities. The review also highlights the paucity of interventions in the UK and in particular, a lack of interventions for adolescents, especially those in upper secondary school (ages 14-18). Suggestions are made as to how the most beneficial interventions could be replicated in the UK.


Emily is a developmental psychologist studying the factors that contribute to language and literacy development in children for whom English is an additional language. Emily completed her BA and MA at Newcastle University (2015) and her PhD at the University of Leeds (2019), as part of the White Rose DTC ESRC Network “understanding and enhancing reading and language skills in children for whom English is an additional language”. She currently works at the University of Leeds on the DART (Dynamic Assessment of Reading Test) Project, investigating whether dynamic assessments may be more accurate screeners of underlying language disorders for children from a range of home backgrounds. Within the School of Psychology, Emily is an active member of the Language and Memory Lab, Language@Leeds and the Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Childhood and Youth Research


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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