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