As a retired LAUSD teacher, familiar with numerous Latino kindergartners from Spanish-speaking homes (SSH), I know that the usual tests (B is for BEAR/oso) of their ABC knowledge can be misleading.
For the most part, teachers are testing for ESL and not ABC relationships. Therefore, current low Latino literacy scores are not an accurate assessment of their ABC knowledge.
Current ABC testing material is not appropriate for Latino students. Visual examples are ambiguous English-only (A is for APPLE/manzana, etc.). Yet SSH Latinos may not always recall the English word for “apple.” SSH Latinos may silently identify the picture as an “manzana” like the manzana they eat at home.
Therefore, instead of testing for ABC associations, ESL knowledge is the object of concern. Frequently, students may not remember the English name of the image. If so, the teacher assumes that repetition of its English name is the only solution. These endless drills may lessen the child’s interest and enthusiasm for the ABCs.
Instead, cognates are an alternative choice. User-friendly images (A is for ASTRONAUT/astronauta) offer another option other than English-only pictures. Object name recall no longer remains an issue. Finding which cognate pictures begin alike is an enjoyable task. Children will joyfully learn the sound of A very rapidly and score highly on ABC tests.
Since Spanish and English share many letter sounds, teachers will soon realize that they can use cognates as ABC image examples. Then SSH Latinos will accurately represent their ABC knowledge on tests and also move onto the next letter to be learned. COGNATES are the Latino’s secret key to accurate assessment of the ABCs.