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Supporting Emergent Bilinguals: Social Communication as a Foundation for Learning

by Kelly Twibell Sanchez, Helen Fann, and Sharon Pala
September/October 2022
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/supporting-emergent-bilinguals-social-communication-as-a-foundation-for-learning/5026782/

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Lucas and Cole sat alongside one another at small-group time. Cole noticed Lucas stacking pieces of playdough during a roll-a-dough letter activity.

“What are you doing, Lucas?

Lucas, an emergent bilingual, did not respond, and continued working on flattening his pieces of playdough and piling them one on top of the other. Cole shrugged his shoulders and returned to his work. 

The number of children who are learning English upon entering child care and/or school has tripled in the last several decades and accounts for 25 percent of all children in the United States (Espinosa, 2015). While there are a number of terms to describe students who speak a language other than English at home, in this article we have chosen to use the term Emergent Bilinguals. This designation acknowledges children’s linguistic skills and recognizes that children are gaining English, while maintaining or continuing to develop home language(s) (New America, 2020). Research has determined that there are benefits associated with being multilingual, including enhanced executive control and advanced language, cognitive, and social-emotional skills during preschool years (Bialystok, 2011; Espinosa, 2015; Guiberson & Ferris, 2019). However, there are challenges that come along with learning ...

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