The many benefits of learning in a child’s native language

Once a child can read in their first language, this ability transfers rapidly to the second language.

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A University of Chicago study found that by the time “English learners” were in the eighth grade, nearly 80 percent were proficient in English. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Thanks to the Sun-Times for publicizing one of the most important but least-known findings in education, just confirmed by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research, in the recent editorial “When Chicago schools meet immigrant families halfway, kids learn”.

As reported, the Chicago research showed that development of the child’s first language means better English and better school performance in general.

Here is why:

When children get quality education in their first language, they learn more subject matter. This knowledge helps make the English the children hear more comprehensible, which results in more acquisition of English.

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Also, it is much faster to learn to read in a language the child understands. Once the child can read in the first language, this ability transfers rapidly to the second language.

Good bilingual programs teach subject matter and develop literacy in the first language. They start English-as-a-second-language classes immediately, and teach subject matter in English as soon as it can be made comprehensible.

Research consistently shows that students in quality bilingual programs outperform students in all-English “immersion” programs on tests of English reading.

We all recognize the importance of acquiring English.

“Meeting immigrant families halfway” by providing some instruction in the first language, is the best way to make sure this happens.

Stephen Krashen, Albany Park

Eddie Johnson must be held accountable

As usual, columnist Mary Mitchell clearly addresses the issues and concerns surrounding former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Bernard Kersh.

Bad choices were made by Johnson and those who were involved in an alleged cover-up. They are not necessarily bad people, but there has to be accountability for those choices.

The situation with Bernard Kersh may be complex, but he assaulted a police officer. That officer now has to worry about the possible exposure to disease. Though the body- slamming of Kersh is difficult to see, I believe the officer showed considerable restraint.

If Kersh had spit on someone else, he might now be dead.

Barbara Marion, Orland Park

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