ALERT! FALSE ABC ASSUMPTIONS

Some well-intentioned combinations can back-fire. Merging ABCs with English learning appears to be a good idea, but is it? No studies have been done to prove it can be done within a short period of time. Can they be joined? One task frequently attains prominence over the other.

Sometimes combining different ingredients works out successfully, like with an ice cream sundae, but it is always a gamble. Sometimes things get better, but sometimes they get worse. For Latinos, combining literacy (the ABCs) with learning English has a bad outcome. The students do not learn letter sounds within the usual time space (grade level) but instead get discouraged over the long period of learning the ABCs. Confusion is caused by too many misses of too many English names.

With all the combinations of items together one item inevitably takes over. In this case what happens is that English comprehension takes over and leaves ABC literacy on the sidelines. This causes an additional loss of self-confidence for the ELL Latinos students who were not up to the task of learning English names soon enough. English-only examples are assumed to work automatically, but they do not work quickly for Latino students from Spanish speaking homes!

Children are in over their heads with too many visuals to identify and remember later on. Latino kindergartners learn one English word one day (A is for APPLE), but the next day it is gone. In that case, they default to recognizing the image in their home language (A is for APPLE/manzana). There is no research on how long it takes to remember nor that it is necessary to use only English examples. There are nineteen such common letter sounds between the two languages which Latino are already familiar with, such as “T”, “F”, “B”, etc. A joint English-Spanish example such as A is for AIRPLANE/avion is very efficient in this manner.

Trying to combine literacy skills (the ABCs) with learning to speak English is the universal practice. Most likely, early literacy moves over to second place to make room for students to learn English image names. Enthusiasm for real literacy learning is compromised in favor of physical English tongue movements. This is the general outcome and obstacle for Latino kindergartners who need to quickly learn their ABCs.

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