Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scaffolding the language

During the last ISA seminar celebrated in Calgary in 2011 several important issues about bilingual education came out. During her presentation, Dr. Myriam Mett mentioned her experience with bilingual schools in the USA. Students were very strong in the lower grades of their education and were able to engage in conversations but the same students in junior high school seemed to have forgotten all their Spanish. She mentioned at this point the importance of reading for building up the students linguistic capacity. I must say that I agree a 100% with this statement and in this blog I have been suggesting different novels and short stories that can be very useful in a Spanish bilingual program.

In the same seminar, another keynote speaker, María Jesús Frigols, introduced two important concepts which are related to the problem I am talking about: Scaffolding and Cognitive input versus Language input. Professor Frigols stated the importance of scaffolding the language input students acquire in the subjects areas taught in Spanish. For this reason, it is essential the collaboration between the subject areas in Spanish and Spanish language arts, so students get the necessary input to face in the target language the more and more demanding cognitive input.

Extracted from this link

In my opinion, one of the reasons why a significant number of students drop from the program in junior high school has to be with what we are talking about: without building up the linguistic capacity, students cannot face the more cognitively demanding subject areas. Schools need, in my opinion, a reading plan from the lowest grades up to high school and introduce the concepts of scaffolding the linguistic input, which implies the collaboration and coordination between teachers. I know that we are too often overwhelmed by work but this is a key factor to a successful Spanish bilingual program.