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Position Statement

Second-Language Literacy Instruction

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Second-Language Literacy Instruction

Grades K – 12
Type Position Statement
Published January 2001
Publisher International Literacy Association



All children arrive at school with strengths in their home language. The challenge for literacy educators occurs when that language is not the language of schooling.

Research has shown that literacy learning is easiest when initial instruction in the child's home language is provided. Literacy skills in the home language can then be applied to learning to read and write in the language dominant in school. At the same time, however, some parents may prefer initial instruction to be delivered in the school's dominant language. Policies and resources may make home-language instruction impossible.

IRA affirms the right of families to choose the language in which their children receive initial literacy instruction. Where that choice is not feasible, the right of the child to choose to be bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate, or monolingual, monocultural, and monoliterate must be honored and respected.

This position statement offers recommendations on ways that teachers, parents, policymakers, and researchers can work together to support second-language learners, as well as a list of resources for further information.


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Grades   7 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Crossing Boundaries Through Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry

Students explore the idea of "crossing boundaries" through bilingual, spoken-word poetry, culminating in a poetry slam at school or in the community.