Essential Concepts in Reading for Bilingual Students by Maria De Lourdes Serpa

This is a definition of reading I can live with as a bilingual myself and as a teacher and teacher trainer of reading. Dr. Serpa in 1982 developed the following definition of reading.

Reading is a language-based process that uses written symbols as a means of communication (Serpa, 1982).

The SIX elements of Reading for bilingual English Language Learners (ELLs) from the National Reading Panel and the National Literacy Panel (2006)

1. Phonemic Awareness – understanding that spoken words are made up of particular sounds

2. Phonics and biphonics -The interaction of the phonics system from two interacting languages in reading or spelling (

3. oral reading fluency– Reading text accurately and with a natural verbal speed (that resembles spoken language)

4. vocabulary (written and oral)- knowing and understanding the meaning of written/oral words and related concepts

5. Text comprehension- understanding of text at word, sentence, paragraph, passage, chapter and book levels

6. Oral language proficiency– understanding and speaking the language used in reading at a level of native speaker


Claudia Rinaldi View All →

Professor Claudia Rinaldi is the Chair of the Education Program at Lasell University. Her areas of research are the implementation of the Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) framework in urban settings with English learners, teacher education in bilingual special education, and diversifying the teacher pipeline. Claudia has authored peer-reviewed publications and a book for educators called Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Readers. She lead and developed a graduate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual Students with Disabilities for general, ESL and special education teachers geared towards applying research-informed practices to the questions and processes of identifying whether it is a language difference or a learning disability. Claudia developed a college mentoring program called Pathways to Teacher Diversity for districts and teacher education programs to partner in identifying and supporting underrepresented high school students interested in teaching careers to successfully access and persist in college. She serves in various boards including the National Center for Learning Disabilities and serves as an expert for and the National Center for Intensive Interventions.

Professor Claudia Rinaldi believes that it is critical to prepare teacher leaders who may serve as advocates and allies and who will respond to the belief that all students can learn and succeed beyond barriers like culture, language, disability poverty, and marginalization in our country and globally.

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