A Dozen Myths about Meeting the Language Needs of Young Children

A Dozen Myths about Meeting the Language Needs of Young Children

By Karen Nemeth, Ed.M.

Today I asked the audience how many of these myths about meeting the language needs of young children they have encountered.  The discussion actually led them to assess their own knowledge and beliefs about planning language supports for early childhood education.  Have you seen these myths in action?  Can you suggest some resources that would help to debunk these myths?

  1. A bilingual ed teacher’s job description does not include doing any teaching in English.
  2. A child with special needs should only be taught in one language to avoid confusing him.
  3. Growing up with two languages causes young children to show delays in some aspects of speech development.
  4. Young children need language support 2 or 3 times a week to progress.
  5. For preschool children, if some exposure to English is good, more is always better – and will help children succeed quicker.
  6. If a 3 – 6 year old child can hold a conversation in English, he no longer needs support of his home language.
  7. If you can’t provide bilingual ed for all languages then you shouldn’t do it at all – it’s not fair to provide services to some children and not others.
  8. Parents of preschool children often tell us they want their child to learn only in English – and we must respect their wishes.
  9. Not all teachers can be expected to learn new languages for their students.
  10. Low quality language input – meaning lots of slang and poor grammar – is worse than no language input at all.
  11. ESL services can only succeed if the child has time alone with a certified ESL teacher.
  12. Even though most ESL teacher education programs provide no coursework on the learning needs of 3- and 4- year olds, the strategies you learn to support ESL in high school are just as effective for preschool children.

I’ll share some antidotes to these misconceptions in my webinar on April 27:  Building a Multicultural Multilingual Community in your Early Childhood Program.  Register here:  http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.org/

 

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  • Sarita Li says:

    Oh my. These are so sad. I can’t wait for the webinar!

  • Erin says:

    “Low quality language input – meaning lots of slang and poor grammar – is worse than no language input at all.”

    While learning standard English is important for success in many ways, learning colloquialisms is too! How many of us say things like “Ya gonna go?” or “Jeet yet?” (Did you eat yet) Knowing this kind of language is also important for survival.

    I know that had a very hard time interpreting Puerto Rican Spanish before I learned these kinds of words and “street language”!

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