Building on the Foundations of Literacy: Engaging ESL Students in Reading Across the Curriculum


This article will discuss how ESL learners may be engaged in reading across the curriculum through utilizing the foundations of literacy. The discussion will be situated in institutional models which promote positive inter-disciplinary approaches to teaching and learning. It will be argued that the value to these approaches is to be found within those models which promote and support shared best practice between content teachers and language teachers. A curriculum framework supporting this argument will be outlined based on the foundations of literacy. Finally,it will offer examples of successful classroom practice which engage ESL learners when they read across the curriculum.

The foundations of literacy are reading, writing, speaking and listening. They are the keys which open the doors for participation in a literate culture. While they may be artificially broken down for the purposes of an academic discussion they are inevitably linked together, and no one domain exists as a separate entity. This view is also shared by Palmer (2004) who cautions us against developing a pecking order within the foundations of literacy, where learning how to listen, speak and write are intrinsic to the necessary scaffolding required to read well.

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