Improving the Comprehension and Vocabulary Skills of English Language Learners With Content Integrated Language Instruction for Adults
Posted by Laura McLoughlin on March 03, 2021 in categoryFacts & Research

The authors of today’s featured research article developed a program called Content Integrated Language Instruction for Adults (CILIA). This curriculum builds both comprehension and vocabulary by introducing words that are critical to understanding the content.  

The article "Improving the Comprehension and Vocabulary Skills of English Language Learners With Content Integrated Language Instruction for Adults,” published in Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracylooks at the characteristics of CILIA and the approach and success of implementing it at a program in Philadelphia. 

Read an excerpt here: 

Language comprehension, especially reading comprehension, is a key proficiency that forms the foundation for all aspects of adult education, including preparation for post-secondary education, lifelong learning, workforce training, as well as EL development. Decades of research in cognitive and educational psychology suggest that to comprehend complex content, all learners (whether reading in their L1 or L2) need both a strong vocabulary and some background knowledge about the topic (Graves, 2006; Kintsch, 1998; McNamara et al., 2007; Perfetti & Hart, 2002; Van den Broek et al., 2005). 


When examining the literacy skills of native and nonnative speakers in adult education classes, it has been found that compared to their native-speaking peers, nonnative speakers performed well on decoding tasks. However, they struggled with vocabulary and reading comprehension (MacArthur et al., 2010; Nanda et al., 2010; Strucker et al., 2007). 

Vocabulary is an essential component of oral and written language comprehension. Research shows that if the number of unknown words is increased in a text (by replacing the low frequency words with nonwords and making the rest of the words very high frequency), comprehension suffers (Hsueh-Chao & Nation, 2000). According to Grabe and Stoller’s (2002) estimates, one needs at least 3,000 words to read independently in L2. For academic texts, this number is considerably higher. 


Download the Article


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