Parenting 101: Reading Spanish Can Help You Read in English

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – More than 12 million kids in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. But can learning to read first in their parents’ native language affect how they learn to read in English?

Reading is a fundamental skill that can help your child succeed in school, but with 22 percent of the U.S. population speaking a language other than English at home, can those parents still help their child become proficient English readers? Researchers at the University of Delaware and North Carolina State University studied 312 kindergarteners and examined their early Spanish reading ability and their ability to understand English vocabulary words and follow English spoken directions at the start of kindergarten. They then measured their English reading ability every year until the fourth grade.

The social scientists found that children who had strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language when they entered kindergarten experienced greater growth in their ability to read English from kindergarten to fourth grade. This suggests that early Spanish literacy skills are strong predictors of later English reading skills, and a reminder that reading to your child is important in any language.

Latino children from Spanish-speaking homes are the most rapidly expanding segment of school-age population in the United States, making up nearly 78 percent of English learners enrolled in U.S. schools.

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