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Preparing Bicultural, Bilingual Children to Succeed in School

by Hazel Osborn
September/October 2012
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/preparing-bicultural-bilingual-children-to-succeed-in-school/5020770/

Parents lined up at the “Ask the ­Parenting Expert” booth at N. I. H.’s Parenting Fair. A young Chinese researcher sat across from me, struggling with newly-acquired English, ­asking how to be sure her son would get into Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (a highly competitive governor’s school outside Washington, DC). My thoughts lined up: tutoring, entry exam prep class, science fair, computer camp. “Tell me about your son. What grade is he in now?” I asked. “He two years old,” she answered.
Parents who move their families to the United States want their children to have full advantage of the educational opportunities available, and they often worry about language or cultural ­barriers. They need the support of early childhood educators to prepare their children for a good educational experience. And child care providers need to understand the special ­challenges these families confront.

Language Challenges

The first concern for parents is often teaching their children to speak English, especially when they are not fluent themselves. Research indicates children will learn English from peers and teachers at preschool and in elementary school, or even later for older children. As California’s National University Education Professor Margot Kinberg (2001) writes, “The target language is ...

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