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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Frequently Asked Questions about Dual-Language Learning loving way. The exchange also includes an instructional component: The mother is ready to teach. She makes the new word blue meaning- ful by pointing out the child’s shirt. She repeats the word, emphasizing the pronunciation, so the child can hear the sounds clearly. She gently but directly asks the child to repeat the word. Finally, the interaction includes a learning component: The child points to what he already knows, the car. He gets confirmation of his knowledge plus new informa- tion about the color blue. He incorporates this information by looking at his blue shirt. When he says “blue” incorrectly, his mother models the correct pronunciation and asks him to try again. He practices. His mom’s encouragement ignites his inborn desire to learn. Then he says “blue” correctly and shows that he understands the word’s meaning by pointing to the blanket. You might note that this dialogue is the common way we all learn our first language at home. That’s why it makes sense to use the same basic strategies, with the same positive affect, when you teach English to the young dual-language learners in your classrooms and family child care homes (Gillanders 2007). What Is Code Switching? Code switching, or language mixing, is using two languages at the same time. Bilingual people may code-switch as a method of common com- munication (Genesee 2007). For example, a bilingual Hispanic preschool teacher might say to her class of dual-language learners, “Let’s go, niños [children]! We’re going to the park a jugar [to play] with las [the] balls.” She is speaking Spanglish, a mixture of Spanish and English. She is trying to meet the children halfway linguistically. She says some words in their home language to show support and to bridge comprehension. Code switching shows creativity and depth of ideas. Many bilingual people code-switch in informal conversations with others who are bilin- gual in the same languages (Pearson Zurer 2008). We do it a lot in our family—any conversation among us might include English, French, and Spanish. Some concepts just have better words in one language than in another. If we know the listener will understand, we code-switch. It’s useful and fun. Code switching is appropriate in family and community conversa- tions. But it’s risky in the classroom. Students may get in the habit of COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL u 19