The purpose of this study was to examine how fourth-grade Spanish-English speaking bilingual students in the USA participated differently in English-as-a-second-language (ESL) literature groups when they were invited to use all of their linguistic resources vs. when they were restricted to communicate in English only. The theoretical underpinning was that a student's learning burden is lessened when text comprehension is facilitated by access to all previous knowledge regardless of the language of acquisition. This mixed methods study employed a within group repeated measures design in which each student experienced all treatment conditions and completed a comprehension measurement activity following each literacy event. Data included 21 hours of audio-taped student dialog and analyses of 172 written recalls. Findings include the understanding that the opportunity to teach and learn is stifled when educators insist on strict separation of languages, and there is a strong interaction between language of recall and the topic of the reading.