232. Subject: Review of "PREPARING FOR SUCCESS" Dear Dr. Sadek, As an educational consultant in an Arizona district fighting to keep our dual language programs, I thank you for your excellent website. If you come through Phoenix, I would like to invite you to visit some of our K-TALK classrooms, where kindergarten children learn both content and sufficient English to go into dual language programs the subsequent year. Since K-TALK only involves students and teachers for 1 hour per day, 4 days per week, we think this is an excellent result. Please let me know if you would like to receive a copy of my book. It is titled, "Preparing for Success: Meeting the language and learning needs of young children from poverty homes." Just let me know where you would like it sent and I will drop it in the mail to you. You can read a description of it on amazon.com. Thank-you again for your great information.
I have found your book, PREPARING FOR SUCCESS, a most refreshing alternative to "A Framework For Understanding Poverty," by Ruby K. Payne. Your analysis and suggested interventions apply to ALL children while recognizing that children of poverty begin their schooling at a disadvantage. You offer hope, and concrete steps to address the language learning needs of ALL children.
Your approach: pragmatics; the concepts of LIS (the child's Language Information Structure) and LIL (the instructional activity's Language Information Load); and your CurricuLanguage Theory (which postulates maximum language growth when LIS match LIL) are based on sound principles recognized in many other conceptualizations of language acquisition. You acknowledge your sources of information and draw upon extensive previous research for FIRST LANGUAGE acquisition and development.
What you term ". . .the disappearing autonomy of the early childhood teacher. . ." can be extrapolated to teachers at all other educational levels. Your analysis of the Politics of Information is indeed very true.
However, the child who does NOT understand or speak the language of the classroom is NOT fully addressed by your presentation. For that child, the non-English-speaking child learning a SECOND language at school, a child who has already mastered ONE language i.e., the child's FIRST or NATIVE language, the teacher needs to remember two very important ideas:
1. For all practical purposes, the second language learner begins schooling in the second language as if s(he) were blind, deaf, and mute. So, the teacher must insure that the child SEES what the teacher is talking about, HEARS what the teacher says in a language with very different sounds, and BEGINS to speak, with the very intensive modeling of the teacher, a language s(he) has never heard before. Thus, teachers of these second language learners must remember at all times that they need to help these young children SEE, HEAR, and SAY something totally NEW to them.
2. These second language learners begin schooling with possibly LIS levels 3, 4, or 5 in their very own FIRST or PRIMARY languages. Thus, the teacher needs to know how to help these young learners TRANSFER as much of what they already know to the learning of a new language.
Thus, for second language learners --not really addressed in your manual-- teachers must recognize that these learners go through specific stages of SECOND language acquisition: (a) Preproduction; (b) Early Production; (c) Speech Emergence; (d) Intermediate Fluency; and (e) Fluency. AND that these learners go through these stages EVERY TIME A NEW TOPIC IS INTRODUCED in the lesson and in the curriculum!!!!
Also, for second language learners of SPANISH in particular --not really addressed in your manual-- teachers must recognize that these learners BRING --as Spanish-speakers-- to the learning situation a HUGE amount of "cognates," that is, words in Spanish --which they know-- and in English --which they do not know-- that are VERY SIMILAR in terms of pronunciation and meaning. For example (and there are literally hundreds of thousands of English-Spanish cognates) "bicycle" / "bicicleta." Thus, for Spanish-speaking second language learners of English, teachers must recognize that these learners already KNOW a lot of "cognates" because they know the Spanish word in the cognate pair. Maximum transfer of learning from Spanish into English will be achieved if the teacher promotes vocabulary development that emphasizes English-Spanish cognates.
One final point I would like to make is that your emphasis on POSITIVE encouragement may be further enhanced by an emphasis on acquiring the incredibly large (over 3,000 words) vocabulary of positive words that promote positive self-image and positive self-esteem. Children need to know this vocabulary and actively use it in class (and at home).
A few points I would like to suggest:
On page 39, I would not totally agree with your statement regarding "avoiding questions" as much as possible.
On page 41, the Sample Written instructions for Visitors and Volunteers would have to be modified for classroom with second language learners. Remember, THESE LEARNERS may NOT be able to talk to the visitors or volunteers. Thus, the visitors / volunteers need to do something different!!!!
On page 53, the correction procedures described do NOT apply to non-English speakers. Other types of correction procedures need to be employed with second language learners.
On page 63, I would suggest re-writing of the "role of the educational system" (last two bullets) because it gives the impression of "watering down" the activity instead of MEETING students' needs. This impression is reinforced in the next paragraph where it is suggested the teacher "increases or DECREASES" the classroom LIL.
On page 64, I would insert the word NEW: "The goal of the CurricuLanguage approach is to maintain a match between the classroom LIL and the child's LIS as NEW curricular content is presented in the classroom setting."
On page 65, your example clearly shows the enormous difficulties that non-English speaking students would have: They DO NOT have the mental pictures (because of their own cultures) of the sentence: "Undaunted, the old sea dog forged into the swirling terror." The implications for teaching these students the perceptions and the IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS required for understanding a simple story are enormous!!!!
Overall, I agree with your suggested activities for language development and I find it refreshing that your come from the perspective of Speech and Language Therapy.
Enjoyed reading your book and will recommend it to many others, always cautioning that SECOND-LANGUAGE learners are NOT fully addressed in this manual.
For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:
1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading
Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)
Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.
For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:
CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.
Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)
3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406
Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605