Should a pronunciation mistake be considered an error in running records of English Language Learners (ELL’s)?
A running record is a very useful tool that not only allows the teacher of ELL’s to assess their reading level but also provides the teacher with information about the ELL’s stage of language development. ELL’s often make pronunciation mistakes when they are reading, especially if the words are new to them. Running records help the teacher to make a written representation of a student’s reading ability and learning progress.
My experience as a Literacy Coach and as an ESL and Bilingual teacher has taught me that it should be up to the teacher’s discretion to mark pronunciation mistakes as errors and that there should be some considerations to take into account such as students’ number of years in the ESL program, and if the student is literate in his/her L1.
Running records of ELL’s provide information as to what reading area (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency) the student is struggling with. In general terms the following should be considered:
- If the word is a new word for the student and the student mispronounces it, it should not be counted as an error. Instead the teacher should make a note in a post-it or on the side of the running record. Also, unknown words may impede comprehension of the text, so teaching of the word later on is very important.
- If the word is a high frequency word that has been taught and the student does not pronounce it correctly, this shows that the student has internalized the word incorrectly and new learning has to occur to correct the mistake. This should be marked as an error.
- If the student is literate in his/her L1, English graphemes may have different sounds in L1, and the student will make errors while reading. Comprehension of the text should be taken into consideration and these mistakes should not be considered as errors if the student can understand what he/she read. Follow-up instruction and a strong development of phonological awareness skills in English are necessary.
It is important to explicitly teach the similarities and differences that may exist between L1 and English, especially in languages that share the same alphabet. This will help the student develop metalinguistic awareness of sounds that do not exist in their native language (e.g., /th/, /sh/) and develop a solid phonological awareness and phonics knowledge.
Moreover, expanding vocabulary, explaining cultural differences, and providing students with background knowledge will help students with the decoding of new words, reading comprehension, and fluency. Running records provide the teacher with a lot of information about ELL’s reading behaviors and stages of language development and help to identify students’ reading weaknesses and strengths.
-Effective Schooling for English Language Learners by P. Smiley and T. Salsberry.
-Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers by D. Strickland, K. Ganske, J. Monroe.