IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episodes about Early Childhood and Bilingual Education
Bilingual education and English as a second language programs have been in place in U.S. schools for several decades, but for some there is still a bit of a mystery about their purpose. And while the Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Lau vs. Nichols case require schools to appropriately serve English language learners, educators and parents are sometimes unclear about their role and the rights of students. IDRA education associate, Kristin Grayson, Ph.D., talks about why we need bilingual education and English as a second language programs, what these programs do and how parents can work with educators to make sure their children learn English while also learning their other subjects.
The demographic profile of students have always been in a state of change. But today, that change is much quicker and more dramatic. Schools must be equipped to adapt to be able to serve their student population while it is changing. This means equipping school leadership at all levels, from central office staff to principals, from administrators to classroom teachers. And where the population change includes English language learners with varied first languages, leaders need a special skill set. Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., an IDRA education associate, describes technical assistance in leadership development that she has been providing to two school districts in Oklahoma, one of which has more than 60 languages represented. She points out, “English language learners are becoming the mainstream learner,” and educators need the background knowledge to ensure ELLs are successful.
Children’s literature can capture children’s hearts, making their encounters with reading fun and instructive. In addition to building literacy, teachers can use children’s literature to inspire both critical thought and creative thought in their students. Dr. Juanita García, an education associate at IDRA, describes how she uses children’s literature to encourage students to read deeply, analyze, question and make associations with the stories.
Many schools across the country are facing the task of educating English language learners for the first time. For others this is not a new task, but one that needs dramatic improvement given the significant gaps in achievement between ELLs and non-ELLs. Decades of research and experience have demonstrated that the most effective way to teach English to children who speak another language is through an adequate bilingual program. Yet there is still confusion about what the term “bilingual education” means and what makes a program good. IDRA senior education associate, Adela Solís Ph.D., provides an overview of bilingual education and dual language programs and discusses what we need to be doing in the future to effectively serve English language learners.
Teachers have been teaching children to read throughout history. But 10 years ago, the National Reading Panel outlined the essential components of reading instruction: alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, oral language and vocabulary development, and print awareness. José L. Rodríguez, M.A., an early childhood expert at IDRA, describes these components and how they relate to young English language learners.
Research shows that bilingual education, when well implemented, is the most effective way to teach English to speakers of other languages while also teaching core subjects like math, reading and social studies. Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate, outlines an IDRA study of 10 bilingual education programs across the country with high academic success of their students. Researching these programs, IDRA identified the common characteristics and criteria that are contributing to the success of students served by bilingual education programs. This research study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and the corresponding publication, Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English, highlight some of the practices in schools that enable students to grow academically and socially in their native language as well as English.
A Classroom of Excellence is a place where all young children thrive and are ready for school. IDRA has developed this model for creating early childhood classrooms of excellence and has been implementing it in several centers in San Antonio. Research is showing dramatic results among participating children. José L. Rodríguez, M.A., an IDRA education associate, and Josie Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate, share highlights of the model and transformations that have occurred in classrooms for children, teachers and families.
Hear other Classnotes Podcasts on these and other related topics.