The academic repertoire of words that immigrant English learners might already

The academic repertoire of words that immigrant

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The academic repertoire of words that immigrant English learners might already know and be able to recognize is an important source for expanding their content knowledge and learning English. Research demonstrates the importance of helping students make cross-language connections (Soltero-González, Sparrow, Butvilofsky, Escamilla, & Hopewell, 2016; Sparrow, Butvilofsky, Escamilla, Hopewell & Tolento, 2014). Wong-Fillmore & Valadez (2000) believe that bilingual education “offers children a chance to become bilingual without giving up their cultural identities … and to enjoy the social and cognitive benefits that bilingualism offers to individuals” (p. 258 , para. 2). Cummins (2001) concurs on the advantages of bilingualism stating: “Bilingualism has positive effects on children’s linguistic and educational development” (p. 17, para 4). Bilingualism is an asset and should be valued by teachers and schools. Proficiency in the primary language is a key factor that supports the development of literacy skills in a new language. English learners should be encouraged to build upon the skills they have in their primary language. If these English learners keep increasing their primary language literacy as they develop academic language proficiency in English, they have the possibility of becoming bilingual and bi-literate (Dworin, 2003; G. Garcia & Beltran, 2005; Hopewell & Escamilla, 2014). When a child enjoys reading and is engaged in voluntary and self-selected free reading, the child has a valuable resource for academic achievement. Immigrant children who are avid readers have in their books a link to their roots, culture, family and friends left behind. Literature in the primary language should be encouraged and facilitated for these children. According to Krashen (1997), reading in one language will support learning to read in the second language “Children who arrive with a good education in their primary language have already gained two 89
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