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Language is a social and engaging process (Bloom & Lahey, 1978), which is not fully formed until a child is six or seven (Roseberry-McKibben, 2007). Language is developed…
Language is a social and engaging process (Bloom & Lahey, 1978), which is not fully formed until a child is six or seven (Roseberry-McKibben, 2007). Language is developed through social experiences, modeling, observing, and experimenting. Yet our educational system operates on the premise that typically developing children enter kindergarten, at age five with a firm foundation in speaking and listening, and equivalent exposures to pre-literacy skills (Roseberry-McKibben, 2007). For many children who speak a first language other than English, this is not the case. Typically, their first language is not supported in school, and the expectation is that they will learn to speak, communicate, and use English in order to understand grade level core content. Thus, they begin their education at a disadvantage. For many children this expectation creates an initial learning knowledge gap that appears to widen annually. This chapter will examine the literature related to language development and second language learning and the laws and mandates that drive our classroom practice.