Frequently Asked Questions about Dual-Language Learning
positive feedback. Even though Tomás did not say the full sentence, he
learns more English in this example than in examples 1, 2, and 3.
The teacher in example 4 challenges Tomás more than the teacher
in example 3. The decision to use one approach rather than the other
depends on the context, the teacher’s relationship with Tomás, and his
mood on that day. If it is a smooth day and Tomás is in a positive mood,
she can ask more of him.
What Are the Best Ways to Teach Dual-Language
Learners? Research shows clearly that the best ways to teach early literacy skills are
using a thematic curriculum and repeating meaningful activities in large
groups, small groups, and one-on-one (Hart and Risley 1995; Dickinson
and Tabors 2001). Teachers must provide explicit, developmentally appro-
priate instruction with many opportunities to practice. These methods
benefit all children—both monolingual and multilingual.
In addition, teachers of dual-language learners must tune in to the
challenges their students face in a world that’s not fully understandable.
Teachers should imagine themselves as visitors finding their way in Gua-
dalajara, Mexico, or Bangkok, Thailand, and consider what they’d need
to understand and be understood. They must integrate that awareness
into all their instructional practices (Jameson 1998). The following tech-
niques have been shown to be most effective:
• using simple but complete sentences
• making gestures
• demonstrating with toys and other objects
• repeating • following a theme- or project-based approach that offers children
multiple opportunities to hear, experiment with, and produce
English If you think about the nursery rhyme “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” from the
perspective of a child learning English, you no doubt realize that the
child needs scaffolding to understand the rhyme. For example, you may
show the child a plastic spider, a picture of a waterspout, or the sun.
Visual aids, gestures, and demonstrations support teaching and enhance
learning (Tabors 2008).