Helping Language Minority Students Develop a Reading Habit
Sent to the Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), Dec 26
Re: Non-English speakers' failures hit schools (Dec 24):
Bilingual education works. Children in bilingual programs consistently do better than children in all-English programs on tests of English reading. Also, studies have shown that the dismantling of bilingual programs in California after Prop. 227 did not lead to better English language development.
Bilingual education is not enough, however. As noted in the Breeze, language minority children are very often children of poverty. Children from high-poverty areas have little access to books at home, at schools, and in the community. This means less reading, and less reading means less literacy development.
For many children of poverty, libraries are the only source of reading material. California’s school and public libraries consistently rank at or near the bottom of the country. Investing in libraries will give language minority and other children of poverty a chance to develop a reading habit, a necessity for attaining high levels of English language competence.
University of Southern California
Bilingual education works: Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2007. English Learners in American Classrooms. New York: Scholastic.
Access to books, impact of libraries on reading achievement: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann and Westport: Libraries Unlimited.
California’s Libraries: America’s Most Literate Cities: http://www.ccsu.edu/page.cfm?p=8140