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Primary Language is the language a person has been exposed to from birth. Being bilingual or multilingual has cognitive advantages. However, when measured with assessments normed for monolinguals, students learning multiple languages can appear to experience slower acquisition of Vocabulary and Syntax knowledge in each language since these are spread across two or more languages. Students who attend schools that teach in a language other than their Primary Language can also have unique challenges developing their reading and writing skills due to entering school with fewer literacy skills in the school language.
There are many terms for students in the United States whose native language is not English (e.g., Dual Language Learners, English Language Learners). For our work, we use the terms bilingual and multilingual.
The number of students who are learning more than one language is growing rapidly every year. Bilingual and multilingual students can experience different language acquisition patterns:
Since they are mastering more than one complex language system, bilingual/multilingual students often learn each language more slowly than monolingual peers. It should be noted too that other factors, such as SES, can lead to different trajectories that are sustained over time. For example, a disproportionate number of bilingual students in the United States come from lower-SES homes, which is also associated with weaker reading and writing outcomes. Nonetheless, students' Primary Language, and accompanying cultural knowledge, can be considered Background Knowledge that can support their academic learning. Providing bilingual and multilingual students with educational support and motivation to learn to read and write in the school-based language helps them achieve.
Teachers can support language development by using and providing Syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g., short, simple structure for young students).
Teachers support language development by using and providing Vocabulary that is appropriately leveled (e.g., using word wall words).
Physically acting out a text enhances reading comprehension.
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and to experience books above their reading skills.
Students practice making and finding meaning in their reading through a book club model.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise their compositions, their writing quality improves.
Easy access to common words promotes sight word recognition as students see the words repeatedly.
Expressing ideas through visuals and audio, and understanding others' ideas in these forms, is as critical in today's world as traditional reading and writing.
Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.
Daily review strengthens previous learning and can lead to fluent recall.
Dictation can allow students with transcription difficulties to still participate in the writing process and generate ideas.
Dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.
When teachers provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and model when to use them, students learn how to flexibly apply them to make meaning of texts.
Teaching students how to create and use strong keywords for Internet searching is critical for helping them know how to find accurate, relevant information.
Formal spelling instruction improves not only students' spelling skills but also their reading skills.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
Increasing how much students write improves both their writing and their reading.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Spending time with new content helps move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as by making time for free reading.
Practicing until achieving several error-free attempts is critical for retention.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Rhyming, alliteration, and other sound devices reinforce language development by activating the mental processes that promote memory.
Full sentence manipulatives allow students to practice producing more complex Syntax and writing.
Providing physical representations of parts of a sentence activates learners' mental processes.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their literacy work.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
Visuals help students recognize relationships within words and sentences to develop literacy skills.
Playful activities can support the development of learners' Metacognition and also inspire their narratives and writing.
Helping students think about what they know about the topic of upcoming work helps activate their Background Knowledge or reveals gaps.
When students read models of the type of writing they are doing, they can identify effective elements to incorporate in their writing.
Reading aloud regularly exposes students to new and familiar Vocabulary and texts.
Reading aloud books about skills children are learning provides another model for their development.
Through one-on-one conferences, teachers can provide individual support to each student to deepen comprehension and interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Students build their confidence, strategy use, and comprehension by reading and rereading books.
Response devices boost engagement by encouraging all students to answer every question.
Books for vision differences support reading development for learners with visual needs.
Reading materials of varying complexity and levels are necessary for all students to experience success.
Multicultural and diverse books are critical for supporting all students.
Providing varied types of resources that align with interests of individual students supports overall literacy development.
With figurative language and creative sentence structure, poetry supports the development of a deeper understanding of the different ways language makes meaning.
Books on social and emotional learning (SEL) topics, such as developing empathy and productive persistence, help teach these skills.
When students monitor their comprehension, performance, and use of strategies when reading and writing, they build their Metacognition.
Sentence frames or stems provide language support for students' writing and participation in academic discussions.
Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and expand their Genre Knowledge.
Bringing students' every day literacy practice of texting into the classroom provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.
Transforming written text into audio supports learning by activating different parts of a learner's brain for comprehension.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Students develop literacy skills by listening to and speaking with others in informal ways.
Having students verbally repeat information such as instructions ensures they have heard the information and supports remembering.
Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
Web-based dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as visual and audio resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.
Research has shown that students write longer pieces with stronger quality when they use word processing software.
Word sorts are multisensory activities that help learners identify patterns and group words based on different categories.
A word wall helps build Vocabulary for reading fluidity.
Writing conferences allow students to share, reflect on, and receive feedback about their writing, which promotes Motivation for revising.
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