(Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 12 million kids in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. But can learn 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.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. census, the total Hispanic population in Connecticut is 16.5 percent of the state’s 3,572,665 residents — or 589,490 Hispanic residents. Puerto Ricans make up the largest group of Hispanics at 194,443 or 5.7 percent. Mexicans accounted for 23,484 individuals or 0.7 percent of the state’s population.
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 the school-age population in the United States, making up nearly 78 percent of English learners enrolled in U.S. schools.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.