Bilingual & Biliteracy Development: Language Policy & English Language Learners in Texas

Norma A. Guzman

Abstract


Current language policies in the U.S. and Texas play a role in restricting
the number of years students considered English Language Learners (ELL) are
provided with native language support. This study examined the oral, reading and
writing skills in Spanish and English of 44 ELLs in one inner-city school district.
Based on the theory of transference and interdependence, it is hypothesized that
students who acquire literacy development in their native language are able to
transfer those skills when developing literacy in a second language (Cummins,
1979, 1984, 1991; Durgunoglu, 1998). Comprehensive Individual evaluation results
were used to investigate the interdependence hypothesis, and to predict
English literacy skills. Regression analysis results indicate the Spanish reading
and writing skills were good predictors of English language development in these
areas. Oral language skills in Spanish did not appear to be good predictors of
oral language skills development in English. The ELL students in this sample did
not appear to have developed sufficient skills in their native language to support a
successful transfer into an English only curriculum.

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