Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt


Supplementary American History Reading Materials in Chinese

Why was this developed? Why is this important?

The translations in this packet were developed to assist Chinese speaking English Language Learners (ELLs) to be successful in accessing information from complex English texts and to enhance their comprehension.  Reading English language textbooks, such as history for example, is one of the many challenges faced by English language learners’ (ELLs). The dense vocabulary and structure of the text presented is usually difficult for ELLs to read and comprehend.  Even when accompanied by videos of the same materials, its fast paced speech presents serious challenges to the student’s aural comprehension.

Since the home language is the ELLs most valuable resource, it is also one of their most valuable scaffolds. Evidence from research has shown that students using translations as a scaffold will transfer many skills and knowledge from their first language to facilitate acquisition of a second language. Home language translations foster opportunities for ELLs to bridge their prior knowledge, life experiences and culture to understand complex English text, to clarify a concept, or to extend comprehension.  Allowing ELLs access to the content in the native language provides them with a useful scaffold to construct meaning in English.

Who is it developed for and how they can be used

These Chinese translations were developed for teachers to use as scaffolds for American History readings of different English levels.  Teachers can frontload and chunk English text to scaffold reading assignments to assist the ELLs comprehension and understanding of English text.  These translations can be applied in the American History (by dually certified teachers or co-teachers), English as a New Language (ENL), or foreign language classes for both ELLs and English speaking students. They can also be used to familiarize students with the topic and create scenarios for students prior to them reading the actual text in English.

Teachers are encouraged to adapt/tailor these translated materials based on their students’ needs.      For example, teachers can also add visuals along with the topics and foster conversations in English to further develop the language fluency and content knowledge of students in the subject area   .

What are these materials?

This packet contains five sample American History excerpts translated into Chinese, These excerpts are sourced from and Commonlit, Inc.. (See list of excerpts below.)  They are of different English complexity levels as noted on the text. The Chinese version were translated at the 6th grade level and can be used with Chinese speaking ELLs who read at and above the 6th level in Chinese.