Reading Instruction and Instructors’ Perceptions of Learners’ Needs in LINC Level 1-3 Classes
Henrie, Kimberley A
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This study investigates instructors’ perceptions of reading instruction and difficulties among Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Level 1-3 learners. Statistics Canada reports that 60% of immigrants possess inadequate literacy skills. Newcomers are placed in classes using the Canadian Language Benchmarks but large, mixed-level classes create little opportunity for individualized instruction, leading some clients to demonstrate little change in their reading benchmarks. Data were collected (via demographic questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, teaching plans, and field study notes) to create a case study of five LINC instructors’ perceptions of why some clients do not progress through the LINC reading levels as expected and how their previous experiences relate to those within the LINC program. Qualitative analyses of the data revealed three primary themes: client/instructor background and classroom needs, reading, strategies, methods and challenges, and assessment expectations and progress, each containing a number of subthemes. A comparison between the themes and literature demonstrated six areas for discussion: (a) some clients, specifically refugees, require more time to progress to higher benchmarks; (b) clients’ level of prior education can be indicative of their literacy skills; (c) clients with literacy needs should be separated and placed into literacy-specific classes; (d) evidence-based approaches to reading instruction were not always evident in participants’ responses, demonstrating a lack of knowledge about these approaches; (e) first language literacy influences second language reading acquisition through a transfer of skills; and (f) collaboration in the classroom supports learning by extending clients’ capabilities. These points form the basis of recommendations about how reading instruction might be improved for such clients.