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Trend Watch: More Attention to Preschool


Money from California tobacco tax revenues is paying for literacy coaches to make home visits in Orange County and encourage Spanish-speaking parents to get their toddlers interested in books. That's one of a couple of efforts I've come across recently that show public officials may be paying more attention to the preparation for school of children who are English-language learners. See "HABLA program builds on idea: More words make better readers," published July 2 in The Orange County Register. (Hat tip to TESOL in the News.) The HABLA program will nearly double this year as part of a research study conducted by the Brookings Institution on whether increasing toddlers' communication skills in their first language gives them a boost in learning English, the article says.

Preschool ELLs received some attention at the federal level last school year as well. In April, the U.S. Department of Education and several other federal agencies focused on how research can inform policies for this group of children in a two-day meeting (description is under second sub-heading). Members of the press weren't invited, but researchers who gave presentations there posted handouts and PowerPoint presentations on a Web site intended to connect people interested in early childhood education. I see that the researchers say not much is actually known about ELLs before they get to school and what kind of educational programs are effective with them.

I'll keep an eye out for developments in this area.


I'd be interested to see some longitudinal results of the HABLA program, as it affects children making the transition to Kindergarten and elementary school where classes are taught in ENGLISH. It's true that more words make better readers, but the readers should be reading in the language of the country they will be educated in. Non-English speaking parents, of another country of origin, should realize that their children will have to learn, earn and compete in the country of their residence - not necessarily the country of their parents' (or their) origin. I feel that to promote early reading in a language other than English, will place an undue handicap on those children entering English-taught Kindergarten and elementary schools.

I hope they are Spanish language books. In the pre-school years, it is important to develop the native language, not English. The students often have trouble in both languages if the native language isn't developed during this time. It also makes sense to make sure the parents can read in any language and how well they can read. It doesn't mention anything about that in this article.

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