DIP: EMBRACEing English Language Learners with Technology

PIs: Arthur Glenberg, Erin Walker, M. Adelaida Restrepo
Arizona State University

In this Cyberlearning: Transforming Education DIP (Development and Implementation) Project, the PIs focus on how to address the English-language learning needs of young English-language learners (ELLs). They are enhancing the Moved by Reading (MbR) computer program that has been used to increase the reading comprehension of native English speakers. In MbR, a child actively simulates a sentence or a set of sentences being read by moving pictures on a computer screen to illustrate what he or she understands. When they become competent at that, learners transition to imagining moving pictures as they are reading so that they become independent and accomplished readers. In this project, the PIs are enhancing MbR in several ways to help ELLs learn English and learn to read in English. The new approach, called EMBRACE (Enhanced Moved by Reading to Accelerate Comprehension in English), includes MbR as well as facilities for vocabulary support in learners’ first language (in this case, Spanish), personalizing choice of next texts to read based on learners’ syntax and vocabulary capabilities and needs, game-like facilities for sustaining engagement, and support for collaboration. Research is addressing the roles and effects of each of these supports for learning so as to identify good practices for promoting English-language literacy in ELLs, how to use technology to support those practices, and trajectories of development of English-language competencies in such learners.

Because reading serves as a gateway to academic success, graduation, and employment, there is a great national need to address the English-language learning and reading needs of those whose first language is something other than English. This project addresses this issue through the development of an approach called EMBRACE — Enhanced Moved by Reading to Accelerate Comprehension in English, an interactive software system to be used in elementary school classrooms, supplementary programs, and at home. Using EMBRACE, children learn English vocabulary, syntax, and reading through manipulating pictures representing the content of what they are reading. Choice of next texts to read is personalized to individual learners. Learners also are supported in working on language issues with peers.

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