To the Editor:
Your article “Literacy Instruction Expected to Cross the Curriculum” (“Rethinking Literacy: Reading in the Common-Core Era,” Special Report, Nov. 14, 2012) brought up clear examples of the development of reading and writing skills in disciplines beyond English/language arts. Perhaps no other discipline exemplifies this strong connection more than the learning of other languages.
All four strands of the Common Core State Standards for English/language arts are developed and practiced as language-learners make meaning from what they hear, read, or view; engage in conversations; and present ideas and information.
When students engage in learning a second language, whether it is English in the case of our English-language learners or a second language for our English-speaking students, the literacy development is enhanced as the learner benefits from the cognitive gain as well as the cross-language connections. The content of a language class is often the concept of another discipline (e.g., science, social studies, math), which is particularly true in a dual-language immersion program in which the content of math, science, and other subjects is taught in the second language.
Achievement data show that students not only master the content areas learned through the second language, but that they often outscore their monolingual counterparts.
As we look at the critical skills our students will need to live and work in the global environment and the need to provide common subject matter in English/language arts and math, offering all students the opportunity to learn a second language in school becomes a no-brainer.
Martha G. Abbott
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2012 edition of Education Week as Multiple-Language Instruction Benefits the Common Core