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Semilingualism Applied to the Literacy Behaviors of Spanish-Speaking Emerging Bilinguals: Bi-illiteracy or Emerging Biliteracy?


by Kathy Escamilla — 2006

Language differences in the United States are largely viewed as problems that schools must remedy. This paradigm has created the pervasive belief that Spanish is a root cause of underachievement for Spanish-speaking English language learners (ELLs). This article examines teacher beliefs systems with regard to the above paradigm. It also examines informal writing assessments as tools to evaluate children’s bilingual writing development. Fourth- and fifth-grade students were given writing prompts in English and Spanish. Teachers at the school read and rated the samples. Findings indicated that children had strengths in writing, particularly in the area of complex ideas. In contrast, teachers’ discussions focused on perceived weaknesses. Findings raise questions about using writing-sample data and teacher judgment to identify ELLs for special education. Study findings raise some questions in terms of using writing-sample data and teacher judgment to identify ELL students for special education.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 11, 2006, p. 2329-2353
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12807, Date Accessed: 12/16/2017 7:30:59 PM

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About the Author
  • Kathy Escamilla
    University of Colorado, Boulder
    E-mail Author
    KATHY ESCAMILLA is a professor in the Division of Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She teaches graduate courses in the areas of bilingual and multicultural education and is involved in teacher preparation throughout the Southwest. Her research focuses on studying the acquisition of literacy and biliteracy of Spanish-speaking Latinos in U.S. schools. She is a past president of the National Association for Bilingual Education.
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