With over thirty years of experience as a bilingual speech-language pathologist, observing, assessing, and teaching children with speech and language delays I have come to the following conclusions:
• There is a troubling lag in pre-academic skills in the fastest growing and yet most educationally challenged group, Hispanic children.
• A solid language foundation is the essential skill upon which success in all academic areas is based.
• Many Hispanic children entering our schools do not have access to the type of early stimulation that will allow them to develop adequate language, cognitive, and social skills.
• Children are pre-wired for language.
• Multisensory learning experiences create the pathways for our brain to store and remember information.
• Music, movement, and American Sign Language build connections, and when used repeatedly become the foundation for brain organization and function throughout a child’s life.
• Research indicates that stimulation in the first years of life is critical for linguistic and cognitive development.
• 80% of language is learned by the age of 3.
• Parental support and reinforcement are key to the child’s success.
• Young dual language learners are not only faced with the challenge of developing language and literacy skills in their native language but also need to transfer these skills to a second language.
• Strong language skills facilitate the acquisition of English.
• It is essential to design “parallel interventions” in Spanish and English that specifically include oral language and emergent literacy skills.
Economically or educationally disadvantaged persons are those persons placed at special risk by socioeconomic and educational background.Economically disadvantaged persons include those persons who struggle to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families or communities. Therefore, the use of financial incentives for research participation is a special issue with economically disadvantaged persons. Medical care, remedial education, and financial remuneration are common incentives in research. To a person who is economically disadvantaged, seemingly nominal inducements may be powerfully coercive. Incentives cannot be so strong that they take away a person's voluntary choice to participate in research. Educationally disadvantaged persons may have educational deficits, learning disabilities, or cultural backgrounds that limit communication with a researcher. It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that a subject is fully informed. This includes presenting material at an appropriate level, in an appropriate language, and via an appropriate medium (e.g., verbal or visual).