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Primary Language is the language a person has been exposed to from birth. Being bi- 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 learning to read due to entering school with fewer oral language and early 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/multilingual students can experience different language acquisition patterns:
Since they are mastering more than one complex language system, bilingual/multilingual children often learn each language more slowly than monolingual peers. However, it should be noted that other factors, such as SES, can lead to different trajectories that are sustained over time. 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 to learn the school-based language helps them achieve the same language and literacy skills as monolingual students.
Teachers can support language development by using and providing syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g.
Teachers support language development by using and providing Vocabulary that is appropriately leveled (e.g., using word wall words).
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.
Easy access to common words promotes sight word recognition as students see the words repeatedly.
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.
With this interactive technique, teachers help students become storytellers by listening and questioning.
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.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.
Free play supports learner interests and allows more complex social interactions to develop.
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 strengthen 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 reading development 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.
Literacy centers with reading games, manipulatives, and activities support learner interests and promote the development of more complex reading skills and social interactions.
Providing physical representations of concepts helps activate mental processes.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Teachers sharing text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections models this schema building.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their reading 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.
A parent evening meeting about how to support literacy at home with one follow-up meeting with each family has shown strong results for students' reading development.
Reading aloud allows students to hear and practice reading and fluency skills.
Students with low early literacy skills benefit from a focus on phonics and Phonological Awareness.
Visuals help students recognize relationships within words and sentences to develop reading skills.
Talking with students about what they know about the topic of upcoming work helps activate their Background Knowledge or reveals gaps.
Pretending allows students to step back from a problem or task and think about it from multiple angles.
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.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Students build their confidence and skills 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.
Books of varying complexity and reading levels are necessary for all students to experience reading success.
Multicultural and diverse books are critical for supporting all students.
With rhyming and creative word use, poetry is a genre that supports the development of early literacy skills in particular.
Students who have had little exposure to the school's language can benefit from having books in their Primary Language in their classroom.
Books with SEL topics, such as developing friendships and identifying emotions, help teach these skills.
Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and practice narrative skills.
Transforming written text into audio activates different parts of the brain to support learning.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Students develop reading skills by listening to and speaking with others in informal ways.
Having students verbally repeat information such as instructions ensures they have heard 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.
Students with strong early literacy skills benefit from a literacy-rich approach.
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.
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