English language learners who struggle with reading: Language acquisition or LD?

Janette K. Klingner, Alfredo Artiles, Laura Méndez Barletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


We review empirical research on English language learners (ELLs) who struggle with reading and who may have learning disabilities (LD). We sought to determine research indicators that can help us better differentiate between ELLs who struggle to acquire literacy because of their limited proficiency in English and ELLs who have actual LD. We conclude that more research is warranted to further elucidate the strengths and learning needs of subgroups of underachieving ELLs, to help us determine who should qualify for special education, and to clarify why some ELLs who do not have LD still struggle with language and literacy acquisition. Future research should account for the complexities involved in becoming literate in another language and focus more on cultural and contextual factors that affect student achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-128
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Education


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