English as a 2nd language at a young age

April 14, 2010 3:31:02 PM PDT
Learning to read at an early age is important, but it's hard though for students when English is not their first language. But there is a new program helping first graders, getting them to speak the language out loud, and fostering a love of reading.

It seems that one way to interest young children in reading, is to make them part of the story.

First graders at Manhattan's PS 111 are part of a literacy program, which is geared toward English language learners.

"We're not trying to teach children or their parents how to read, but we are trying to bring them all the other aspects that go with living a literary life to help spread that love of reading," said Erin Jackman

Jackman, a former teacher at this school, founded the Brooke Jackman Literacy Program. It was named for her sister, Brooke, who was killed on 9-11 at the World Trade Center, in her office at a financial firm.

"She wanted to become a social worker and work with children and she loved to read," said Jackman.

The kids take the next step of staging a play, using puppet masks that they have made.

You take a group of first graders and give them masks and parts to play and they're going to have fun. Teachers say that this approach to literacy is also helpful in improving the reading skills of these students.

And parents who came to the show can see a difference in their children.

"I see him that he's getting, like, more books to read and he's, like, all the time asking me to read books for him, and he's usually looking for books to read," said Epifania Ceballos.