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Why Reading Helps Language Development

A new study from the University of Iowa suggests that paying attention and responding to baby babble is the key to language development. Book reading has been linked to quicker language development in young children, but not just as a result of words being read from a page. The study found that when mothers spent time with 1-year-old children during reading, puppet play, and toy play, they were much more likely to respond to speech-like sounds while reading than during other activities. Reading creates an environment for interaction and speech development that, if paid attention to, can be extended to all types of play. “A lot of research shows that book reading even to infants as young as six months of age is important to language outcomes, but I’m trying to explain why by looking at the specifics, which could be responding to speech-like sounds,” said Julie Gros-Louis, assistant professor of psychology at the UI and corresponding author on the study.

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January 8th, 2016 | Leave your comments

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English Learners May Need More Time

Schools that add significantly more time to their schedules may be able to offer English language learners the extra support necessary for their success, according to a study of three successful schools released last month by the National Center on Time & Learning.

Giving English Language Learners the Time They Need to Succeed” profiles three expanded-time elementary schools (two of which offer dual-language immersion), identifying four effective practices that have led to student and teacher success:

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December 29th, 2015 | Leave your comments

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Dual-language Programs Improve Reading Skills

According to a recent study, the first of its kind and scale, students enrolled in dual-language immersions programs, in which students are taught in both English and a second language, outperform their single-language peers by almost a full grade-level in terms of English reading skills. The study followed almost 30,000 students in Portland Public Schools, including those in dual-language immersion programs in Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Chinese, and Russian and was sponsored by the research firm RAND, the American Councils for International Education, and Portland public schools. “Part of the way Portland sees the issue, really is about ensuring schools and classrooms are diverse and people really benefit in a tangible way from that diversity,” said Jennifer Steele, RAND’s primary investigator for the study. “It is about kids learning from each other; the language you bring to that class is treated as an asset and the languages you get from your peers is also an asset, because more languages are better than fewer,” she continued.

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November 23rd, 2015 | 3 Comments

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Early Literacy Especially Important for ELLs

ThinkstockPhotos-490931604A new study from Oregon State University (OSU) shows that English learners are more likely to become proficient English speakers if they enter kindergarten with a strong initial grasp of academic language literacy, either in their primary language or in English. The study, published recently in the journal Educational Policy, is part of an emerging body of research examining the role that language acquisition plays in a student’s education. “This study shows that building literacy skills, in English or the child’s native language, prior to kindergarten can be helpful,” said Karen Thompson, an assistant professor of cultural and linguistic diversity in OSU’s College of Education and lead author of the study. “Having those academic language skills – the kind of language used in school to retell a story or explain a math problem – is likely going to set them on a path to success.”

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October 22nd, 2015 | Leave your comments

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World Teachers’ Day Empowers Educators

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.24.16 PMUNESCO is celebrating World Teachers’ Day (WTD) on October 5 by highlighting the importance of empowering teachers to achieve inclusive and sustainable global development.

This year World Teachers’ Day highlights the need to empower all teachers through the provision of decent, safe, and healthy working conditions, trust, professional autonomy, and academic freedom.

Worldwide there is a growing shortage of quality teachers and inadequate professional training. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates that to achieve universal primary education by 2020 countries will need to recruit a total of 10.9 million primary teachers.

All these factors result in equity gaps in access and learning which mostly affect the poorest regions and schools and the earliest grades. This is particularly damaging, as there is clear evidence that the earliest years of a child’s development are the most critical.

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October 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment

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Digital Media Can Boost Literacy

ThinkstockPhotos-468178463Technology and the amount of information it provides us is deepening the divide between the haves and the have-nots in terms of education. As we become more dependent on digital tools to live our lives and navigate the world, parents and teachers also find themselves at a crossroads, sometimes banning seemingly mind-numbing tech like TV and video games while embracing the education trend of technology in the classroom. “We argue for a modern, “third way” approach to technology that gives young children of all backgrounds more opportunities to learn to read and succeed in the 21st century. We need to get past the tired nagging of “no screen time” and the overheated enthusiasm over apps as the holy grail of early education. Instead, let’s take a more mindful approach and combine the power of parents, educators and high-quality media (print and digital) to make literacy opportunities available to all kids and families, regardless of income,” Lisa Guernsey, co-author of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens and director of the Early Education Initiative and the Learning Technologies Project at New America, explained to NPR.

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October 2nd, 2015 | Leave your comments

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Is Kindergarten too Early for Literacy?

Group Of Elementary Age Children In Art Class With Teacher

The Common Core State Standards require that kindergarteners have the ability to read emergent texts with purpose and understanding. Kindergarten literacy standards are controversial as educators are split over what will best set up small children for success: play and creativity or academic rigor?

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October 1st, 2015 | Leave your comments

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New Standards for Short-Term TESOL Programs

ThinkstockPhotos-179216490In response to the proliferation of short-term TESOL certificate programs around the world, TESOL International Association has developed a set of standards for entry-level short-term certificate programs. The standards are intended to provide a framework for organizations to use in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs that prepare candidates to teach English as a second or foreign language. The new standards require 120-180 hours of study and are structured around three main areas: organization and program management standards, curriculum and instructor standards, and candidate standards.

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September 30th, 2015 | 1 Comment

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Investing in Teachers instead of Prisons

kid at the back of the iron bar

Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered a stirring speech at the National Press Club that was particularly relevant for minority and English learner students

“I agree with Secretary Duncan. Prison is not a solution to inequitable educational funding. All children deserve an education, not punitive incarceration, which only exacerbates divisions in our society,” commented Language Magazine editor, Daniel Ward.

“Secretary Duncan offers a wise prescription for ending the school-to-prison pipeline and investing in the future of our students and nation. The relationship between America’s failure to provide equal educational opportunities for children of color and the over-representation of people of color in our prisons is clear and tragic. Diverting funding from incarceration to education and tackling bias in school discipline will help break this chain once and for all,” said Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program.

Read on for the full transcript of Duncan’s speech.

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September 30th, 2015 | 2 Comments

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California Supports Leaders in ELL Education

Elementary school pupils running outsideThe 2014 California Language Census found that over 22% of California public school students are English language learners (ELLs) and over 43% speak a language other than English at home. The California Department of Education provides assistance for schools to achieve the following goals: (1) Ensure that English learners acquire full proficiency in English as rapidly and effectively as possible and attain parity with native speakers of English. (2) Ensure that English learners, within a reasonable period of time, achieve the same rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students.

Californians Together, in collaboration with the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) invites mid-career leaders in English Learner education and advocacy to apply for a three-year fellowship. Fellows will be part of an initial cohort of 15, and will be immersed in research, as well as mentorship and skill development to inspire and prepare advocates to work at multiple levels (state, district, community) to establish strategic action agendas, move policy and practice, develop and leverage research, work with media, and build and mobilize coalitions championing the right to quality education for English Learners.

Full details and a link to the online application can be found here.

Applications are due no later than September 25, 2015.



August 18th, 2015 | Leave your comments

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