Basic ABC instruction requires the teacher to know which English sounds Latino kindergartners from Spanish speaking homes already know. ABC instruction is relevant or irrelevant once the curtain is lifted. Only then will Hispanic kindergartners learn to read on time.
Adjusting for more language diversity in our schools today than before is very important for early kindergarten literacy instruction. Only 10% of LA students were reported as white during the recent LA teachers’ strike. Also 70% of Los Angeles students were reported as Latino.
Not all new immigrants’ language experience are equally distant from English. Some groups, such as Hispanics, may even share many actual English letter sounds: M, T, R, S, etc. Therefore, the accepted previous one-size fits all ABC instruction (B is for BEAR/oso) is no longer effective. Currently Latino students are on the low end of literacy even though neither teachers, parents are aware of this important fact.
English letter sound awareness arises through the use of personal names of family members (ie: Ramon, Rachel, Ricardo); not necessarily through visual images. Individual letter sounds are heard repeatedly at home and build sound awareness. Ambiguous letter charts A is for APPLE/manzana will confuse the Latino student’s sound awareness.
Once kindergarten teachers realize how relevant “relative names” are to the ABC system, the reason to spend time teaching English image names loses its importance.