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We believe …

  1. Listening, speaking, and early literacy skills for reading and writing  (l,s,r,w) can be learned simultaneously, in synchrony, by young English language learners (ELL).
  2. These skills need to be integrated and taught in context. Children need to make the link between their unfolding oral language skills and how spoken sounds and words are represented in print.
  3. There is a role for explicit instruction as well as for discovery and play with words in the quest for meaning. However we plan for learning activity, it is with the idea of purposefulness and pedagogical intent in mind.
  4. Traditional literacy skills must not be ignored. Besides, it is the expectation of many immigrant families that these will have a significant place in the ECS program.
  5. Narrative/stories are an ideal vehicle and provide an interesting context for children to develop vocabulary and early literacy skills and concepts, and to acquire cultural information and thinking skills.
  6. The first language (L1) plays an enormous role in the development of the second (L2).  The more we can think of ways to increase L1 vocabulary, the better. There is considerable transfer potential, even among 5 year olds.
  7. Children need multiple exposures to new vocabulary and concepts and many opportunities in various contexts to manipulate and practice this new information.
  8. Children primarily acquire new vocabulary from adults who interact with them. If we can provide more opportunities for small group interaction with adults, children will be supported in advancing their language development.
  9. Realia, images, objects and hands on experiences provide a concrete starting point and a reference for understanding language.
  10. Children build on what they already know. We want to activate and access this background knowledge, and take our children forward from where they are.
  11. Each child comes with a different overall language profile represented in either/or L1 and L2. We need to get to know each child individually and track their language development, looking for opportunities to exploit their unfolding bilingual capacities.
  12. Rates of acquisition differ for each child. We want to gain insights into what ‘good language learning’ looks like for each child and track this against the trajectory of his unilingual age and grade peers. We believe it will take a long time for ELLs to ‘come up to speed’ and that shifting levels and types of learning support will be necessary over time.

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Sample Letter to Parents

References and Readings

Learning by Design

Teaching English Language Learners- Article

Pre-Primer Dolch List

Primer Dolch List