The Hispanic population is not only the largest immigrant group but accounts for 56% of the United States population growth in the past two decades. As a result, linguistic diversity is an increasing characteristic in today’s classrooms. Educators need to design instruction to match the demographics of today’s students.
As the Hispanic population continues to grow so will the number of students experiencing difficulties. With this knowledge educators are eager to determine how to bolster English language literacy among the Hispanic population.
If we take seriously the way in which literacy skills drive academic success, focusing on community involved programs makes good sense to help develop students’ literacy skills, but moreover to develop their advanced literacy skills.
Recent research has shifted our thinking: It’s not reading per se that impedes Hispanic students’ advanced literacy skill development; it’s actually the language of print—in the newspaper, the textbook, the magazine article—that proves difficult and demands instructional emphasis.
Our task, then, is to redesign our model for teaching literacy. We’ve gone about much literacy reform guided by the assumption that if we focus on the act of reading—putting the letters and sounds together to read words—then students will engage in deep comprehension. The flaws in this approach have proven particularly problematic for academically vulnerable populations, including many of our Hispanic students.
We must focus on involving ourselves in more community based programs that emphasize advanced literacy development as comprehension is the key to academic success.