Often times, teachers of Spanish-speaking students are left believing that some of those students know very little or nothing about the English alphabet. This is not true. These false beliefs arise from the lack of proper testing materials. How are teachers supposed to know what Latino Spanish-speaking students really know if they have no way to properly test their knowledge of the alphabet? If the student is tested on the image of a bear, they might respond with the word “oso” leading the teacher to believe they don’t comprehend the letter B and pushing the idea that ESL is necessary. It is not.
To properly comprehend what Latino students from Spanish-speaking homes know, new tools are needed. We can no longer rely on outdated methods. You cannot expect a carpenter to build a stable house without proper tools. Likewise, you can’t children to become literate if they don’t have the proper foundation. Educators must stop believing that Spanish-speaking students do not understand the alphabet when they are not being tested correctly. Our program, which uses cognates, is not only the correct tool to test this knowledge, it is also the best method to help foster literacy in Latino students from Spanish-speaking homes.