PALS Reading Across the Globe

Across the years, researchers at Vanderbilt University, and elsewhere, have conducted experimental and quasi-experimental studies on the effectiveness of PALS reading for grades 2-6. In a large majority of these studies, PALS students have outperformed non-PALS (control) students. Furthermore, second through sixth grade PALS student participants, functioning at high-achieving, average-achieving, and low-achieving performance levels, as well as students with disabilities and  ELL children, experienced improved performance in reading fluency and comprehension in comparison to their respective counterparts in non-PALS classes.

The success of PALS in the United States as a cost-effective and successful research-based Tier 1 reading intervention has led to international interest in and implementation of PALS reading in several countries. That outcomes with PALS Grades 2 – 6 is generalizable to non-Western populations has been borne out by research that has confirmed that the effects of PALS can extend to culturally and linguistically diverse students.

 Read four papers exploring the implementation of PALS internationally in Taiwan, Iceland, The UK and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Using qualitative and quantitative methods, these papers show that amendments had to be made when using PALS outside of the USA but the approach to paired reading is still of benefit. Qualitatively pupils and teachers responded positively to PALS, and these positive thoughts are supported by the quantitative data with improvements in reading accuracy, decoding and comprehension being reported by the papers.

Educators using the English version of PALS Reading Grades 2 – 6 represent many countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Ecuador, England, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Mauritius, Portugal, Saipan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and Zambia. Additionally, some PALS reading manuals have been translated into foreign languages, including Spanish, Icelandic, and French.



Our Spanish language version of PALS Reading Grades 2-6, PALS Aprendiendo en Parejas (AP) is available in the United States for both domestic and international elementary students who speak Spanish as their first language.

PALS Icelandic

In 2013, the SISL program (an acronym which in English translates as “specialist team in a society that learns”) was granted the exclusive rights to translate PALS Grades 2 – 6 into Icelandic.

Under the SISL program, teachers who participated in training in best practices in the area of second language learning and teaching receive the manual at cost. The program is innovative in that it assumes that all teachers are second-language teachers, and that language learning is something that goes on in all areas of school life, not just in special classes. Furthermore, the program trains participants from all levels of Iceland’s local education, from preschool to secondary schools, giving educators who might never have worked together a chance to share their experiences, insights and networks with one another.

The initial introduction of PALS was well received, and teachers representing 62 primary schools attended training.  Because the method enjoyed strong popularity, K-PALS Reading and K-PALS Math were translated, and the translation of PALS 1st Grade Reading, First Grade Math, and Grades 2 – 6 Math are being considered.

In collaboration with Drs. Lynn and Doug Fuchs, Dr. Dion adapted the PALS  Reading Programs to help 1st grade students learn to read more easily and to assist  2nd grade students to better understand the meaning of text.

Eric Dion, Ph.D, is a professor in the Department of Specialized Education and Training at the University of Quebec in Montreal, and the Director of the Laboratory on Research-Supported Teaching Practices. The Laboratory supports schools in Montreal by developing or adapting teaching and intervention strategies and evaluating their effectiveness using a rigorous methodology.

The Rafiki Foundation has used the PALS Reading Program for phonics and reading instruction at several of its ten training villages within the African countries of Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.

The Foundation is a non-government organization (NGO) headquartered in Eustis, Florida. The Foundation operates five programs to which it sends out qualified professionals to work with African nationals in some of Africa’s most impoverished nations to promote the physical, spiritual, educational, and social well-being of orphans, vulnerable children, and widows.

Each Rafiki Village includes a Rafiki school which provides free education to orphaned and vulnerable children and low-cost education to children in the surrounding communities. Class sizes are about 18 and trained teachers teach an accredited liberal arts curriculum. PALS Kindergarten and 1st Grade Reading programs are translated into the local language and then incorporated into the liberal arts education program.

These two videos are from the Rafiki School in Zambia which is in a rural area approximately 31 miles from the capital of Lusaka. The students love reading in choral fashion with a friend or individually. These first-grade students have had three terms of instruction in blending and segmenting sounds and in reading sight words and sentences. The teachers use typical PALS methods of instruction however, the stories are written to be contextually appropriate for the communities in which the children live.