A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

Support for Dual-Language Learners

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Spanish remains the most commonly spoken language in the United States after English. Research finds that children benefit from growing up bilingual, but how can schools and parents help kids become fluent in both languages?

The friends at the Puerto Rican Action Board’s Raritan Gardens Preschool greet each other in English and Spanish—two of the many languages spoken by children at the preschool in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Milagros Nores, PhD, is the co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. She said this preschool program effectively supports dual-language learners. In a Rutgers study, three- and four-year-olds were randomly assigned to either an English-Spanish program or an English-only program. Researchers found that the two-way immersion program strengthened learning and development in both languages. Most importantly, children from English-speaking homes did lose any English . In fact, other research has shown that bilingual children have better memories and are able to recall things more quickly. It’s a lesson Nores takes to heart with her four children.

“If they’re in school five or six hours, I need to make sure I balance that with five to six hours with Spanish,” Nores told Ivanhoe.

Nores recommends that parents ask schools what they’re doing to support the home language and what families can do to help.

Rita Koromi, senior director of early childhood and youth services at PRAB, said, “Bringing books in; helping us with signs—things the children are already familiar with.”

This can help kids reach their potential in any language.

The National Institute for Early Education Research has said that high-quality preschools can reduce early disadvantages. However, only 12 percent of state-funded programs have policies regarding training for teachers of dual-language learners, and only about 35 percent assess children in the language they speak at home.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Article 1: http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Policy-facts-DLLs_July2018.pdf

Article 2: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ782965 

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