Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Dual language helps children intellectually

“The usual way of teaching language to non-English students begins with native Spanish speakers in the class being taught by bi-lingual teachers where learning English is emphasized.

Native English speaking students often have had little contact with native Spanish speakers.

There is another way of teaching that is more deliberate than throwing them all together and hoping they will learn from each other.

On the week the class was observed, it was afternoon.

The students spoke in Spanish. All of them, both native Spanish speakers and native English speakers as well as Moran. That morning they had been all been speaking in English — all of them.

All subjects were taught in the language of the morning or afternoon session. All of the classes usually taught in kindergarten were being taught in the language of that session.

Reading, writing, science and social studies are taught in both languages. All materials are in both languages. There is a sign on the doorway that indicates which language is being spoken in the classroom.

The next week the sessions will be reversed with Spanish in the morning and English in the afternoons.”

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Languages do matter!


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