When English is a Second Language: Maryjane’s Reading Recovery Progress

For Maryjane, Reading Recovery has seen her make excellent progress in reading, letter knowledge, spelling and writing skills - and dramatically improve her comprehension.

Missing a lot of school in Year 1 then dealing with the grief that comes with losing her father caused Year 2 Te Kāpehu Riccarton School (TKRS) student Maryjane Leala - who is Samoan - to particularly struggle with her literacy learning.

The school’s junior team decided that one-to-one support from Reading Recovery teacher Melissa Whitnall would help to lift Maryjane’s literacy in a nurturing and supportive way. 

As a Reading Recovery teacher, Melissa is trained to identify the strengths of each individual student and pinpoint where they are having difficulties. 

After closely observing Maryjane’s reading and writing using a range of literacy assessments, Melissa developed a series of one-on-one lessons designed to address Maryjane’s specific literacy requirements and accelerate her progress. 

Melissa and Maryjane have been working together for 14 weeks. Here’s their story:

English as a second language

As a Samoan-speaking fanau, Maryjane’s mother, Wilma, has attended three of Maryjane’s lessons with Melissa so she too can learn how to best support Maryjane on her literacy journey.

Wilma says the lessons have been surprisingly helpful for her too, giving them both more confidence in their English word pronunciation. 

“Her accent in sounding out English words has been much better than mine!”

The mother and daughter duo are segueing Reading Recovery techniques successfully into home learning too. 

“Maryjane corrects me when I make a mistake with our reading at home”.

Wilma says they like to ask each other questions about the stories they read, sharing “ideas and feelings about the stories and the characters.”

She says there is a great need for more parents and children who use English as a second language to be involved in Reading Recovery.

Transitioning to tiers

As part of the recent Reading Recovery refresh, trained Reading Recovery teachers are transferring their skills to working in class, with teachers, using the full range of literacy resources available in schools. 

The new model operates as a three-tiered approach; Tier 1 being high-quality classroom programmes. Tiers 2 and 3 offer more intensive teaching expertise as a safety net to support children not making progress as expected. 

TKRS has offered Tier 2 small group teaching for two Early Literacy Support groups, for children who were not progressing in their literacy learning after their first two terms at school.

Maryjane is among 10 TKRS tamariki to benefit from Tier 3 Reading Recovery intervention in 2022, which provides one-on-one support for children who are not progressing after a year at school.

Melissa says all children’s reading levels, alphabet, spelling, general writing, skills and confidence improved with Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention.  

Positive changes

For Maryjane, Reading Recovery has seen her make excellent progress in reading, letter knowledge, spelling and writing skills - and dramatically improve her comprehension, says Melissa. 

“And she transfers this [learning] into the classroom.”

Melissa says Maryjane is more confident across all her learning and loves to share her success with her teachers and peers - she is more excited about school in general and her  attendance has also improved.

Wilma says the experience of reading together has deepened the pair’s bond and taught Wilma to have more patience in Maryjane’s learning process. They now visit the local public library weekly to choose books they can enjoy together at home.

Now as a Year 2 student at the tail end of the school year, Maryjane has found her feet in the classroom, and greets her mother with a smile of delight at the end of her school days.

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