Children from economically disadvantaged families are at great risk for falling behind in reading and language skills during the summer break from school.
A recent report, "Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap," by The Johns Hopkins University professor Karl Alexander, PhD, indicates that for those ELL students from economically disadvantaged families, this summer may prove to be an even greater challenge.
This research shows that without continuous practice academic performance can regress quickly, further challenging bilingual children's ability to flourish in school. Therefore, it is important that parents provide language-rich activities for their children over the summer.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) provides the following tips to keep your bilingual child's language skills on track:
- Talk to your child; start a conversation about what he or she did throughout the day. Play board games together; work on a home project together. Talk to your child in the language you are most comfortable using, even if it is not the same language used at school.
- Read with your child. Set aside time every day to enjoy a good book together. Whether you are reading in English or in your native language, this activity will help develop strong language skills.
- Enroll your child in summer camps and activities. Engaging your child in structured activities during the summer will help his or her language skills continue to grow.
- Direct your child toward language-rich computer games. If your child enjoys playing on the computer, there are a number of websites that have language-based games (Spanish and English) that are fun and interactive. Look for ones that build vocabulary and reinforce topics learned at school.
To determine if your child is struggling because of learning a new language or because of a communication disorder, consult a certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist who works with bilingual children.
For more information about speech, language, and hearing disorders and prevention or for tips to help a child learn two languages, visit www.asha.org/public/speech/development/BilingualChildren.htm. To find a speech-language pathologist or audiologist in your local area, go to ProSearch at www.asha.org/findpro/.
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 140,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.