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.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.