Becoming Biliterate

This semester, students in READ 6329.10 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Rogelio Rios

I am pleased to learn that biliteracy is gaining an increased amount of attention in recent years due to the diverse communities across America. By being biliterate a child is able to speak, read and write in at least two languages. I believe that schools adapting a biliteracy curriculum would only enhance and with no doubt make the students more successful. In the Rio Grande Valley children are brought up bilingual and are coming to the schools in many cases being biliterate already. I believe that it’s a mistake on the school’s part not to use this to further the learning experience of the students. As an educator in this community I believe that the job of the schools should be to furnish biliteracy, especially if they have a large population of bilingual students like here in The Valley.

In most situations our school districts try to assimilate our ELLs into a path where children are leaving their first language behind and receiving mainly English instruction. I believe that a child’s first language shouldn’t be left behind, rather it should be reinforced while the child is acquiring a second language. By doing so no instruction time is lost in the process of transitioning from one language to another. By providing instruction on both languages the child will learn how to transfer reading skills and strategies back and forth from one language to the other.

In a biliterate classroom an assessment tool that the educator can use with their particular students in determining the students’ gains on both languages can be by having the child fill out a self-assessment form.  The child would individually rate their language skills in each language in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The child would then add the total number of points for each language. Finally they will come up with the overall total combining both columns to see what the over-all score is in his/her biliteracy abilities. This self-assessment tool would help the child by highlighting the areas of greater need also the areas the child feels confident on. In addition, the results can serve as a guide for the teacher in planning future lessons.

I’ve see a rise of schools that are starting to adopt a dual language curriculum. I believe that this is the start in the right direction. I hope that more districts begin to take notice and that soon more of our neighboring schools adopt a dual language program.  



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