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Engaging English language learners through interactive read-alouds: a literature review

Mikel Walker Cole (Department of Education and Human Development, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Pamela J. Dunston (Literacy Education, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Tracy Butler (Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to review published research on using interactive read-alouds in the instruction of English language learners (ELLs). In particular, this paper emphasizes the practical application of research findings to help classroom teachers and other educators make instructional decisions that promote both effective and equitable instruction.


For this literature review, the authors conducted a systematic keyword search of multiple electronic databases to identify relevant research studies. Once studies were identified, the authors used a qualitative content analysis method (Guba and Lincoln, 1981; Holsti, 1969; Lincoln and Guba, 1985) to identify themes.


The findings were grouped into three distinct categories: pedagogy, language and culture. While many aspects of effective interactive read-alouds are similar for ELLs and mainstream students, this paper highlights elements of interactive read-alouds that are different or especially important for ELLs.


This review, unlike the 2,000 potentially relevant studies initially identified, considers the interplay of pedagogy, language and culture when using interactive read-alouds with ELLs. The explicit focus on practical classroom application makes this literature review useful for both researchers and practitioners.



Cole, M.W., Dunston, P.J. and Butler, T. (2017), "Engaging English language learners through interactive read-alouds: a literature review", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 97-109.



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