Highlighting Touro TESOL Masters Candidate Michelle Mannino’s Discussion Contributions in EDDN 634 – Teaching Reading and Writing to ELL’s


GSE LogoWhat is the best teacher education, and how can we make sure that programs cater to teacher candidates needs, are vital issues that facilitators, professors, lecturers, colleges and universities around the world are struggling with.  One area that I focus on is highlighting teacher candidates contributions to classroom discussions to encourage continued research, publication and motivation to submit exemplary coursework.  Michelle Mannino is one of my teacher candidates in EDDN 634, and her contribution in our discussion board shows not only depth of text analysis but also connects the reading to personal and professional experiences. These personalized connections form a bridge between the academic knowledge and internalization of the readings.

Here Michelle, Mannino, a Masters Candidate in the TESOL/Bilingual Department at the Graduate School of Education, Touro College.

My name is Michelle Mannino, and I am an educator who has always loved working with children both in and outside of the classroom, which is where my dedication for teaching comes from.  Years later, I now enjoy and live my passion as a Special Education Teacher in Manhattan.  This is my second year teaching in an ABA 6:1:1 classroom, in which my students are diagnosed with Multiple Disabilities or Autism. I am currently certified in New York State in both General and Special Education (1-6).

I am looking forward to having my third certification in ESOL, as I am in my second semester at Touro College for my Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

The Guiding Questions are in bold and refer to text reading (see references) of week 4 in the online course.

  1. Many studies conclude that there are five essential elements of reading instruction.  Discuss these elements.

The five essential elements of reading instruction are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. According to the article by Suzanne Irujo, “ELLs cannot develop phonological awareness in English until they are familiar with the sounds of English. This means that before explicit instruction in phonological awareness begins, children should have extensive experiences with fun and appealing songs, poems, chants, and read- alouds that will allow them to hear and reproduce the sound patterns of English.” (Irujo, 2007). Irujo also states in the text, “What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners?” that “…Phonics can be problematic because ELLs often have difficulty discriminating between similar sounds, and because the English language does not does not have a regular system of correspondence between letters and sounds.” (Irujo, 2007).  He also writes;  “Most ELLs will need additional time to master phonics.” Fluency is another element that is “…difficult for ELLs because their lack of proficiency in English slows down their ability to decode words and hinders their ability to understand the meanings of the words and how the words combine to produce meaningful sentences and discourse.” (Irujo, 2007). Next is vocabulary. The text states “Vocabulary is difficult for ELLs; even for quite proficient learners, the extent of their knowledge of vocabulary is only a fraction of what it is for native speakers of English, and the failure to understand even a few words of a text can have negative effects on comprehension.” (Irujo, 2007).  What the text says about comprehension is “Reading comprehension is more difficult for ELLs than for native speakers for various reasons.” (Irujo, 2007).  

Comprehension, in general, can be challenging for English speaking students.  For example, when in school myself, I had to go to the resource room for reading comprehension.  I read fluently, but had a hard time comprehending what I was reading. Still, to this day, I need to re-read texts more than once to fully comprehend them.  During this session, I was having difficulty understanding what the questions were asking.  So, I had to re-read slowly a few more times to fully understand what the questions were asking. 

2. What components make up an effective reading program for ELLs?

One important component that makes up an effective reading program for ELLs is picking an appropriate text.  According to the article “Integrating Strategic Reading in L2 Instruction”, it states “From the standpoint of teaching strategic reading, while interest is crucial, an equally important factor is the students’ proficiency levels in their L2 and the consequent choice of a text that is at an appropriate level of difficulty.” (Janzen & Stoller, 1998).  Finding a text that is not too easy and not too difficult for the learner, will allow them the opportunity to utilize more strategies in the daily routines.  (Janzen & Stoller, 1998).  Once a text has been chosen, the teacher needs to implement different strategies into the instruction. Some examples that are given of different strategies are predicting, asking questions, checking predictions or finding an answer to a question, summarizing, and rereading.  A lot of these strategies can be linked together as well, and incorporated into small group activities.  (Janzen & Stoller, 1998).  Janzen & Stoller state in their text that the most important part for a teacher is that they “…must be able to enable students to monitor their comprehension and to become more self-aware readers.” (Janzen & Stoller, 1998).  Comprehension is very important, because if a student cannot comprehend a text, then they are not understanding what they are reading and are unable to answer the questions incorrectly.  All teachers should differentiate and plan their lessons according to the strategies and their students as well.  (Janzen & Stoller, 1998).  

3. There are many theorists who have researched the question of how to teach reading to ELLs. Choose one from our readings and discuss his/her theory.  

When reading all of the texts, the one passage that stuck out to me the most was “Interacting and talking about text in particular ways is essential (Casanave 1988). Heath (1984),Vygotsky (1962), and others found that students develop literacy skills when teachers encourage them to talk about written language, when teachers model comprehension strategies for them, and when students have opportunities to talk to each other about how they make sense of a text (Hoffman and Heath, 1986).” (Mikulecky, 2008).  

I believe these theorists make a lot of sense.  I believe a student should talk about their written language as long as the teacher makes the students feel comfortable by supporting and modeling comprehension strategies for their students.  Then the students will have the opportunity to talk to their peers and help make sense of the text.  An important difference is “encouraging” and not “pressuring” the students to talk about their written language.  Maybe, a student can explain something more thoroughly when they express it.  With the guidance given to these students, it will allow them to become more independent readers.  Working in small groups and talking to one another about what they made out from the text, will help guide them through this reading process.  As teachers, we need to implement many strategies for our learners and put into consideration that their prior knowledge is very important especially in their native language.  


Irujo, S. (2007, January). What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners? Retrieved from http://cmmr.usc.edu//543/543IrujoResearchReadingELLs.pdf

Janzen, J., & Stoller, F. L. (1998). Integrating Strategic Reading in L2 Instruction. Retrieved from http://nflrc.hawaii.edu/rfl/PastIssues/rfl121janzen.pdf

Mikulecky, B. S. (2008). Teaching Reading in a Second Language. Retrieved from https://longmanhomeusa.com/content/FINAL-LO RES-Mikulecky-Reading Monograph .pdf


Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar, SIT Graduate, completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

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