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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Frequently Asked Questions about Dual-Language Learning Some research shows that students make better progress in English if they receive schooling in their home language first (Thomas and Collier 1998). But overall, evidence does not support the idea that young chil- dren must have specific knowledge in one language before learning it in another language (Wasserman 2007). According to Patton Tabors (2008), second-language learning follows a predictable sequence involving the following stages: • home-language use • nonverbal period • telegraphic and formulaic speech • productive language use This sequence is similar to the way a monolingual baby learns lan- guage. The baby listens; points, smiles, and cries; then makes sounds and babbles. As a toddler, the child begins to speak one- or two-word phrases, such as, “Me milk.” As a preschooler, the child says five- or six-word sen- tences instead, such as, “I am thirsty. I want to drink some milk.” Children learning a second language need to know that adults will accept, encourage, support, and expand their experimentations with the new language. Dual-language learners need adults to help them make sense of their new language and improve it, just as when a tod- dler says, “Truck!” and an adult expands by saying, “Yes, you see a red truck!” First- and second-language learning can happen simultaneously when both languages are encouraged. A key strategy for encouraging both languages is coordinating the classroom curriculum with sugges- tions for families. For example, Ms. Molly, a preschool teacher, plans to teach her students about farms and farm animals. Her school’s cur- riculum recommends teaching six new words per week. She chooses the words she wants her students to learn. In her weekly letter to families, she includes the list of words and asks families to talk to the children in their home languages about farms and farm animals. She tells Sara, the school’s interpreter, about this plan so Sara can help families understand it. This coordinated strategy offers the children opportuni- ties to talk about an interesting topic in two languages, both at home and at school. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL u 17