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Teacher Says Transfer from First Language to English Isn't Automatic

Education Week

A bilingual educator writing a guest blog post at Voice of San Diego says that students can benefit from instruction that lets them know what does and doesn't transfer from their first language to English. Ramon Espinal, who has worked in San Diego as a bilingual classroom teacher since 1995, writes that studies have found correlations between English and Spanish in word reading, phonological awareness, and spelling. But he added, "Teachers cannot assume that transfer is automatic." How to teach students explicitly what is similar and different between English and his or her home language is not something that I've seen pop up much in discussions about educating English-language learners. How I've heard it talked about is when researchers suggest that speakers of Spanish who are learning English can increase their vocabulary quickly with an understanding of cognates, words that are similar in Spanish and English.

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