This study investigated the connections between language proficiency and literary skills. Eighty-one native and nonnative English speakers in kindergarten who were at different alphabetic phases of word reading development were taught function and content words on flashcards. The results suggested that language proficiency accounts for some of the variance in reading function words in isolation but for not content words. Additionally, language proficiency predicted function word learning only for the children who were full alphabetic readers. The implications of this study for teaching function words to ELs are discussed.