“Hispanic children currently make up roughly one in four of all children in the United States, and by 2050 are projected to make up one in three, similar to the number of non-Hispanic, white children.”
–from Preparing Low-Income Latino Children for Kindergarten and Beyond: How Children in Miami’s Publicly-Funded Preschool Programs Fare by Arya Ansari and Michael López September 2015
LATINO POPULATION EXPLOSION
When Hispanic kindergartners arrive in kindergarten how are they received? Are they told they already know many English letter sounds, such as ‘D’, ‘T’, ‘R’, ‘C’, etc.? A welcoming approach is not there yet.
The approach is to use open doors in the classrooms. Schools still use the same English material as ever. “They have to learn English.”
“They got to learn Spanish.” Spanish and English are similar languages. The Hispanic kindergartner are already familiar with many English letter sounds through family names (ie: Ramon, Pedro, Anna, Susanna, etc.). These students are halfway into the ABC system (knowing the sounds) without the teacher realizing it. All students need to learn are the symbols for familiar sounds, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, etc.
When teachers focus on what the student knows and they bring user-friendly examples such as COGNATES into the program. “B is for BICYCLE/bicicleta” and not “B is for BEAR/oso”. These English-only examples automatically place children on the low end of ABC literacy. Cognate Spanish English examples allow Hispanic students to learn phonics very well and quickly.
When user-friendly examples are a usual part of phonics materials presented to them, “T is for TELEPHONE/telefono” (a cognate example), they respond correctly. If teachers have no language background and with non-English speaking students use previous English-only material there may be a three year delay. In addition, students may often lose confidence in their ability to handle future school work.
“Let them (students) learn English” . . . “Let them (teachers) learn Spanish.”