Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides funding to school districts that can be used towards creating programs that encourage family literacy among English Language Learners (ELLs). The initiatives funded by Title III help to improve the language and literacy skills of ELLs, in turn, lead to English language proficiency. Family literacy activities build and enhance literacy skills through books, storytelling, songs, picture books, and poetry. With that being said, it is of utmost importance that we focus on reaching out to families for literacy efforts. Here are some strategies that you can use to encourage family literacy among ELLs.
Bilingual books are one of the easiest ways to get ELL parents involved in family literacy. ELL parents are able to read bilingual books and learn a new language alongside their children. Assign books that your students and their families can relate to. Lectura Books offers an array of books for all age levels that focus on the experiences of Latinos and Hispanics of varying origins. Instruct parents to create a home library of books that everyone in their family can enjoy.
Writing is a very important aspect of reading. That is why parents should practice emerging writing skills with their ELL children. There are a few ways to encourage practicing writing skills: 1) After reading a bilingual book, parents can have their children write a paragraph about the story they just read; 2) Have families write short notes to each other on a regular basis, and 3) Children and parents can create a family journal in which they can write about their day, feelings, or desires.
Storytelling is a powerful way to strengthen literacy skills. Storytelling not only improves literacy skills, but it is also a great tool for sharing family history. Parents can start by sharing a story about a major family event such as a birthday, wedding, or holiday tradition. Then they can ask their children to retell the story in their own words. Instruct parents to help their children by filling any gaps in their retold stories.
For more information on Title III, family literacy, and working with ELL families visit the Latino Family Literacy Project. The Project offers seminars, webinars, and resources that better prepare teachers and school administrators for working with ELL students and immigrant communities.