Science of Reading: The Podcast

S5-E4: What bilingualism can teach us with Dr. Doris Baker

April 06, 2022 Amplify Education Season 5 Episode 4
Science of Reading: The Podcast
S5-E4: What bilingualism can teach us with Dr. Doris Baker
Show Notes Transcript

Joining host Susan Lambert, Dr. Doris Baker speaks from her background researching the academic outcomes of English language learners to discuss ways educators can better engage and support all of their students. Dr. Baker emphasizes how much there is to learn about our native language by learning another language, and the many advantages of bilingualism. She then dives into a conversation around codeswitching and the importance of cultural awareness. Dr. Baker also gives listeners practical advice on how to include English language learners in core instruction and highlights how critical it is to provide students with opportunities to engage in sophisticated and deep conversations. Lastly, Dr. Baker outlines how educators can include parents in their children’s language learning by teaching them how, when, and what to read to their kids—in their native language!

Show notes:

Learn more about the Science of Reading for English learners from Dr. Baker and other experts at Celebrating Biliteracy: Realizing a Better Future for Our Spanish Speakers. Register here!

Webinar: The Importance of Dual Language Assessment and How to Deliver It in Your Classroom

Research paper: Effects of Spanish vocabulary knowledge on the English word knowledge and listening comprehension of bilingual students

Susan Lambert:  0:01
On today's episode, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Doris Baker, Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas, Austin. Her research includes developing and evaluating instructional tools and assessments in English and in Spanish to improve and monitor the academic performance of English learners in reading science and social studies. As we continue to address topics in biliteracy, I'm confident you'll find this episode useful.Dr. Doris Baker, we are so excited to have you on today's episode. Thank you for joining.

Dr. Doris Baker:  0:43
Thank you. Thank you very much for inviting me.

Susan Lambert:  0:46
Well, um, as I just explained to you, our listeners love to hear a little bit about your journey. How did you become interested in literacy and biliteracy? We love to hear that.

Dr. Doris Baker:  0:57
Yeah, sure. I'll be glad to share. So I was born in Brazil and then I moved to Colombia when I was three years old and then later to Mexico. And I finished my bachelor's degree in Mexico City, at the Universidad de las Américas in psychology. So I basically, I grew up speaking three languages: Spanish, Portuguese, and German. I went to a German immersion school. And then I learned English when I was in fourth grade. So for me being bilingual and multilingual was just something that we all did and everybody in my family spoke all the languages. So I never found it strange or different until <laugh> you start kind of getting older and realizing, you know, the many opportunities that you can have by being multilingual.

Susan Lambert:  1:49
Hmm. That's interesting. And I was just reading something—I can't remember what it was, but here in the United States, it actually is quite uncommon. Or we don't think about it as the normal course and progression to know multiple languages. So I think we're outliers in the entire world in that way. <laugh>

Dr. Doris Baker:  2:06
<laugh> Yeah, it was a bit surprising to me when I found out that that was the case. Yes.

Susan Lambert:  2:12
<laugh>. Yeah. And then your interest in just sort of like learning about literacy or learning about like—did you always know you wanted to do that? Was there a point in time when you're like, oh, this would be interesting to study?

Dr. Doris Baker:  2:25
Yeah. Yeah. So as I say, I studied psychology at the Universidad de las Américas in Mexico City. And then, um, I met my husband and we got married and then we came to the States and I studied a Masters in Latin American Studies because to a certain extent, I, I consider myself a Latin American, given that, you know, I was born in Brazil, lived in Mexico and Colombia and have traveled, um, extensively around Costa Rica and other countries that it really kind of caught my attention to be part of this kind of bigger world. And then from there, we moved to Oregon where I taught Spanish for 14 years at the University of Oregon. So I had an internship where my students would go into schools and medical offices to kind of help people who had, Latino students or families or patients who didn't speak English and who only spoke Spanish. And so my students would come back and tell me stories about, you know, sometimes the students, because the teacher didn't know the language, would sit in the back of the class and not really be interested and focused because they didn't understand the teacher and the teacher didn't understand them. So it really made me aware of the lack of having enough teachers who are bilingual and who could help students, but also, uh, the attitude of the students kind of feeling awkward and frustrated because they could not understand what the teacher was saying. And that was what sparked my interest in continuing my studies and becoming a researcher in bilingual education.

Susan Lambert:  4:13
Hmm that's, that's interesting. And, you know, as we're talking about this and thinking about being bilingual or biliterate and learning two languages, we know like biliteracy is such an advantage in many, many ways. But developing proficiency in one language isn't the same thing as developing proficiency in two languages. So can you talk a little bit about, you know, how biliteracy is different, like becoming biliterate is different from learning just like two languages individually.

Dr. Doris Baker:  4:48
<laugh> Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that, exactly one of the things that we are understanding better more and more now with neuroscience studies is that, you know, when a bilingual person always brings the two languages up whenever we're talking. And the thing is that we learn to suppress one language over the other, depending on who we are talking to. And so it's not necessarily just like you're saying, it's not necessarily learning one language and then I learn the other language, but those two languages are also interacting. And so we can learn as much about our own native language by sometimes learning a second language, as well as of course, supporting second-language learning by our native language. But I also think that language learning goes beyond just, you know, the words and the language. It really kind of fosters cultural understanding and a way of seeing the world that is a bit perhaps broader than if you only know one language. And, uh, and then the studies from neuroscience also indicate that, you know, usually bilinguals have a bit more flexibility of mind. And, and sometimes they are even, uh, it's much easier for them to multitask because we are, you know, constantly kind of like working on this different languages and dimensions, no? And it seems to be like an advantage in this world where trying to do multiple things at the same time. It can also be a challenge, of course, because one of the things that happens is that we tend to code switch quite a bit. And sometimes code switching is good, if you are with others who also code switch and speak the languages, then there is no problem in terms of understanding. But if you are surrounded by people who only speak one language and sometimes you code switch just naturally, I mean, you sometimes don't even realize you're code switching, then it can become a problem because, the people that you're talking to are not really understanding what you're saying, you know. So it has its advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. And we have to consider when multilingual is not a problem, but it is something that we have to be aware of.

Susan Lambert:  7:02
Oh, that's, that's a really good reminder of the interconnectedness between the social aspect and just, you know, the language itself. So language is used for very social purposes. Right?

Dr. Doris Baker:  7:14
Mm-hmm, yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it builds also cultural awareness, no? So I think we really, you know, try to understand different beliefs and different ways, traditions, different ways of seeing the world that sometimes you don't get with just kind of being immersed in one culture, one language only.

Susan Lambert:  7:34
So going back to your example of talking about how your students would go in and help students that couldn't speak the language...students whose home language differs from the language of instruction, schooling can be really challenging depending on the context, in terms of what that schooling looks like. And I know there are so many different ways to organize that instruction. Schools do that differently. What are your thoughts about, you know, how we can help organize schooling to help support the development of biliteracy?

Dr. Doris Baker:  8:08
So, yeah, it made me think a little bit about the multi-tier systems of support, you know. Really being aware that second language learners, it's not that they have a disability or all of them have a language problem, but it's more, being aware that they have certain needs. Like, for example, vocabulary. So, you know, building and every activity that teachers can do, vocabulary, activities and exercises that can help students understand what they are hearing is very helpful. And sometimes it's not just vocabulary, let's say, like the tier-three vocabulary where it's more, let's say, content-specific or even tier two, but it could potentially even be tier-one words, simple words. Like, for example, "each." If a student is in kindergarten and doesn't understand the word "each" within the context of a word problem, a mathematics word problem, they might have a very hard time understanding and solving the problem. And it's not an issue of not understanding the math, but it's a problem with not understanding the language. And so just being very aware of that is important. And providing of course, professional development to teacher so they are aware of some of those expressions and concepts and words that students might have a difficult time understanding, and therefore cannot understand completely what a word problem says or what a science experiment is they are doing, the results of the science experiment.

Susan Lambert:  9:44
And is that where we can actually actually leverage a home language? So if they have that vocabulary in their home language, we can try to help make connections with them then to further acquire that language of instruction or English, if that's what it is.

Dr. Doris Baker:  10:00
Yes. Yes. I think so. I think it's important. And if the teacher, for example, is bilingual too, and can translate it, it's good. My only concern though, and I have seen it many times, is that sometimes, you know, let's say your two words, the academic words, a simple translation is not enough because students might likely not also know the word in their native language. So we have to be careful with just translating and not ensuring that students actually are understanding the concepts. For example, the concept of government, you know, we can easily translate that into Spanish: Gobierno. But that doesn't that they really understand what government is and what it does and for what purpose it exists.

Susan Lambert:  10:44
Yeah. That makes sense. And then how do we think I'm thinking about, a student, Spanish is their home language, and they're coming into school, and the language of schooling is primarily English, um, but at what point do we need to think about is something in their Spanish language development actually impacting their English language development? And that kind of feels all a little complex to me.

Dr. Doris Baker:  11:14
Mm-hmm <affirmative> Yeah, it is complex. But I think it is something that is not impossible to understand, let's say <laugh>. And so for example, we know that, um, you know —and there are many studies that show it—that if we screen students with an assessment, with a formative assessment, to just get a sense of where they are, what they understand, even if it is in English, in the second language, we can get information from there, uh, about how students are doing. And in kindergarten, of course, it's a little bit harder because, you know, students are just adjusting and getting to school. So many, many other factors might affect the results. But, uh, after kindergarten, we, we know that a formative assessment in English is also as useful to assess those children and to determine what they need in terms of reading as monolingual students. If we, of course, ideally if we have, or assessments in Spanish, then we can definitely determine if students also are struggling with Spanish, you know, and if they're struggling with Spanish, then it might be possible that they might have, maybe a learning difficulty or written difficulty that was not captured by the English assessment. But if we know if their Spanish skills are strong enough, then we know that it's more, a matter of transition. And so we can follow the student across the grades and, you know, throughout the year, just to make sure that they are using their skills in Spanish and their knowledge in Spanish to build their English acquisition and their English comprehension. But I think that in the early grades, it's really important for us to recognize that for students, you know, you have to kind of like make the transition between one language, a native language, a second language, overt and explicit. Like they don't naturally associate, for example, a cognate,in English with a word they know in Spanish, you know? So we need to kind of make this more explicit for them so that they can actually use what they know in Spanish to build their English.

Susan Lambert:  13:27
Hmm. And we can do that at the sound level too, right? Like we can learn as they're learning to recognize sounds and map those sounds to print, we can leverage those, those commonalities between languages too, if we know them.

Dr. Doris Baker:  13:40
Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good point. For example, phonemic awareness. Now we know that most of the consonants in Spanish and English are the same. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> Therefore, you know, we don't need need to teach it twice. Let's say we can teach it once in one language, but then always kind of make that connection for the student. Know that the same, for example, the sound of the letter B is "buh" and that can be in Spanish or that can be in English, no? And so then we can leverage what they say. Uh, we also know that, for example, for skills such as phonological awareness, you sometimes don't necessarily need to know the meaning of the word. Of course, it's, it's good, and it's much better to know the meaning of the word than to not know it, but students can do phonological awareness activities in the absence of understanding the word they're hearing. And so that is also another opportunity for us to teach students phonological awareness, even if they are second language learners. So in other words, we don't need to wait until they have acquired enough English to teach, phonological awareness or the alphabetic principle.

Susan Lambert:  14:48
So they can engage in whole-class activities that are sort of leveraging the development of that phonological awareness.

Dr. Doris Baker:  14:56
Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And if the teacher, you know, can bring some pictures to help with the vocabulary, you know, and help kids understand the word and associate the sounds of the word they hear to a picture, that is fantastic. I mean, that would be ideal, but, even in the absence of that, students can do phonological awareness activities, even if they don't speak the language.

Susan Lambert:  15:21
I recently attended the CDL Plain Talk conference in New Orleans and our team asked attendees to share their Science of Reading stories. Take a listen, and we'll be right back.

Isabel Malone:  15:32
Hi, I'm Isabel Malone from San Antonio, Texas. And the way that the Science of Reading has helped me is that I now have a better understanding of how children learn how to read. When I first started teaching 20-some years ago, I didn't have all this knowledge that I have now. And so now that I have gone through lots of training on the Science of Reading, as well as the reading academies in my school district, I now have better content knowledge, and now I have better instructional strategies, skill support that I can provide the teachers that I work with as an instructional leader. And so the Science of Reading has definitely changed the way I think about reading, the way I then have conversations with teachers and principals as well as creating PD for teachers in my district. So that is how the Science of Reading has helped me.

Susan Lambert:  16:30
So on this podcast, we talk a lot of about the simple view of reading, right? So the importance of word recognition and the importance of language comprehension. And this probably sounds like a silly question, but I really wanna explicitly ask this: when we're thinking about the development of languages, no matter what, whether we're reading in Spanish or reading in English, what's your understanding of how that simple view of reading still applies to both languages when we're talking about that development?

Dr. Doris Baker:  17:02
Yeah. Yeah. Very good question. And I'm going to, my experience is mostly with Spanish and English, but other other languages in other studies have also shown that the simple view of reading works even in languages that are not alphabetic such as Chinese. So we know that there is a commonality among languages in terms of what skills are needed to understand what we read, no? So yeah, so the simple view of reading fits well also in Spanish, and there are studies that have done that in Spain, particularly. And the idea is that, you know, both languages, Spanish and English, for example, use the alphabet, no? So therefore, you know, what we need to learn are the letter-sound correspondence to be able to recognize those letter sounds and then blend them in order to read words. And that is in isolation or in context, no? So in terms of decoding, we can learn to read, to read words in any language, as long as we can provide students with the opportunity to learn the alphabetic principle and phonological awareness, no? Now what becomes a bit more tricky is of course the vocabulary and the comprehension <laugh>, and for a second-language learner is, I mean, obviously vocabulary is key, but it's also background knowledge, because one of the issues is that we know that a lot of second language learners maybe come from different contexts or have experienced different contexts. And therefore they don't have the same experiences that for example, a monolingual English-only student might have, and building that background knowledge is really important for them to really understand the context in which a story takes place or in which let's say an experiment is being conducted. No? And I think that's something that we are still not know, we don't deliberately do it on a regular basis, really understand: Okay, what is it that my students know about this experiment? For example, let's say volcanoes, or, you know, how volcanoes erupt or about a water cycle that they have never experienced because they have lived in a place where maybe, you know, it was a desert or there was not that instruction taking place, knowing they have to learn it from the beginning.

Susan Lambert:  19:37
And how can teachers help develop that? So, I mean, like word recognition is one thing and getting kids to decode words, but the understanding part of that, the vocabulary and and the background knowledge, what's the best way to help engage our second language learners or biliterate kids in developing that?

Dr. Doris Baker:  19:57
Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Yeah. I think that nowadays, you know, we have the advantage of technology and of videos and beautiful pictures and the internet, you know, like kind of to really bring that to students in an engaging and interesting way that will attract them. And so trying to use those resources as much as we can is really important. As well as also, you know, asking students and understanding where they're coming from and where, you know, like what their experiences are, and also really get a little bit of the context of where students are growing up or their experiences before coming to school, so that we can center the activities on what they know. And then from there build to something new, no? If that is the case. Or really kind of like enrich their knowledge, by acknowledging what their experiences are, no?

Susan Lambert:  20:54
Mm-hmm <affirmative>, and then that oral language development must be really, really important, particularly for kids that are learning new languages.

Dr. Doris Baker:  21:03
Yes, exactly. Yeah. That's fundamental...and having opportunities for kids to talk is really, really important. And particularly talking about content, not like really engaging in conversations that even if they might not be grammatically correct, or they might not be, you know, long in the beginning while students are acquiring language, but really trying to foster their communication and their expressions is fundamental, no? We shouldn't shy away from even sophisticated and deep conversations. We just have to make sure that we provide them with, you know, enough vocabulary with sentence stems with, with ways of expressing themselves that is at their, let's say, at their language development stage so that they can actually also participate in all the activities. But the thing that we want to avoid is, you know, having them just watch and observe all the time and never talk. So we want to hold them accountable really, and challenge them to answer a question. And maybe in the beginning, it's just going to be yes or no, or multiple choice, or, you know, like one-word sentences. But as they develop it and they know that they have to participate, then we can become more and more sophisticated on how they should express themselves and provide explanations or descriptions or whatever it is that the teacher's working on. Yeah.

Susan Lambert:  22:36
Hmm. And this has me thinking now, you mentioned before sort of that multi-tiered systems of support that we can help these students, talk a little bit about the importance of them being involved in that core instruction, um, along with their peers, and then how do we maybe scaffold and help support? I think you've mentioned a few things, but I guess I don't even know how I'm trying to ask this! But I'm assuming it's really important that they're in core instruction with their peers, right? <laugh>

Dr. Doris Baker:  23:06
Yes, yes. For sure. Yes, exactly. Yeah. And, you know, I mean, many times I go to schools and then students are pulled out right when there's, you know, core reading instruction, for example, and then of course, when the students come back, they don't know what happened because they missed 30 minutes of the class. And so going back to participate is impossible. And then unfortunately sometimes the instruction they are receiving is not connected to what the teacher is doing. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and therefore, you know, it's not like they can use that now to participate more, no? So I think that the key part is really any kind of additional support students are receiving particularly ESL, um, English language development, English as second language, that is connected to the topics and to the core instruction, um, so that students, I mean, in a way, are getting like a boost, ideally pre-teaching what the content will be so that they can participate actually in the whole class instruction.

Susan Lambert:  24:09
Mm. We don't talk enough about the strategy of pre-teaching, um, particularly with EL students. Why is that pre-teaching so powerful? I've seen it being used really powerfully by the way.

Dr. Doris Baker:  24:22
Yeah. Well, I think it's because, you know, then you give the students the opportunity, first of all, to understand things at their level and the teacher can work with them on the language, on the key vocabulary words, the main ideas of the, of the lesson. And then when kids get into the classroom, then the teacher is talking about something that they can recognize, no? And that gets them very excited. I mean, um, you know, I think that sometimes we feel like, oh, the student is receiving twice the lesson, but actually that extra practice really allows them to participate and feel confident, no? I had a study, just as an anecdote, but I had a study with preschoolers where we would ask the parents to read aloud with their children, books that the teacher then was reading in the classroom. And it was amazing how, you know, you could tell if parents had been reading with its kids because of how they participated in the classroom! <Laugh> But in one of the cases, one of the students, you know, a four-year-old, the teacher was going to talk about a book that they had at home and she mispronounced the author's name and the kid kind of clarified and <laugh> corrected her! Which was really exciting to see. Because it really made you realize how powerful that was, and he was participating and he knew the book, he understood it. He could say things and you know, be much more alert and engaged in the whole-group discussion than if he had not read the book before and knew about what the book was about. Yeah.

Susan Lambert:  25:58
Hmm. That's interesting. I'm gonna take a little bit of a turn on that one too, because you mentioned, um, parents. So how can parents be supportive outside of the school or within the school? How can we draw parents into this process to really support kids in the development of new languages?

Dr. Doris Baker:  26:16
Yeah, so I think, and, you know, in my experience has mostly been with, Latino parents, but what I've learned and what I've found is that Latino parents are really always engaged and very interested in helping their children succeed. And I, I assume of course it's for every parent, but for them particularly because they want their kids to be part of the society, they want them to participate, to be successful, to complete their education. And so...but one of the issues that happens sometimes is that, you know, we ask teachers, for example, uh, parents to read with their children, but we don't really, you know, give them the books or tell them how to do it, or what is the best way of engaging students, I mean, their children in an interactive way of reading that, uh, that will support their learning, but also develop their language and, uh, you know, their kind of also relationship with their parents or guardians. And so I think that providing that training to parents, on how to read, how long to read, what kind of books to read, how that interaction should take place, would really help parents, um, become even more, much more engaged with their children if they have these opportunities.

Susan Lambert:  27:34
And then do we encourage parents to read in their home language? I mean, I'm assuming, yeah, I was gonna say, I'm assuming that this is in their home language.

Dr. Doris Baker:  27:41
Yeah. Oh, very good question. That's what I always tell parents, yeah. Please read with your children in your own language, because that's the language that you feel the most comfortable with, and so it's going to become a very rich conversation. But does happen that sometimes, you know, parents want to speak to their children or read to children in English because they want them to learn English. But if the parents are not themselves very fluent in English, what happens is that the conversations become a little bit stilted and there's not a rich kind of vocabulary and exchange, no? Than if they would just kind of speak their native language and, you know, enrich that, and we know that all this language proficiency at the early stage can really help develop...also reading is a good, strong predictor of reading abilities later on in reading comprehension. So it's not going to be detrimental to the child if their parents speak to their children in their native language.

Susan Lambert:  28:40
Yeah. And isn't there also, beyond just not detrimental, that it's actually helpful to kids to develop like the use of language to help them in the transition?

Dr. Doris Baker:  28:51
Yes, for sure. Yes, exactly. That, and also, you know, really maintains the culture, I mean, if we see language also as part of culture and traditions and beliefs and values, then it also kind of maintains, no, those values that sometimes are so important for the families to continue and to feel proud of their past and you know, their history and their background and their traditions. And also of course it helps them communicate with other members of their family, like grandparents or maybe cousins or aunts and uncles that might live far away. And that also helps, you know, knowing the language helps maintain those relationships too.

Susan Lambert:  29:36
Yeah. Yeah. For sure. I wanna go back a little bit to this idea of assessments, right? Because we know just in the development of learning to read in English, assessments are important to understand where kids are in their progress and making sure that we're using them appropriately. Um, I'm assuming when we're developing with second language learners, these assessments are, again, going to be really important. How can teachers best use that assessment information when we're talking about the development of another language?

Dr. Doris Baker:  30:09
Mm-hmm, yes. Yeah. So I think that if, if the school doesn't have resources or doesn't have enough, let's say, bilingual teachers, or can only provide instruction in English, what we have found is that, you know, formative assessments in English can equally identify as well as, you know, even native language assessments, which are the students who might be struggling. So for a school that doesn't have any native language support, following and doing and screening students is really important, particularly in the early stages. And of course in kindergarten, as we're talking about, you know, there may be other factors that affect what students are learning and understanding. But once students are adjusted to school, those screeners and progress monitor assessments work as well for more monolingual children. Now, if the school has the capacity to have bilingual teachers and bilingual instruction, then definitely, we should use, assessments that are bilingual in Spanish and in English. And then, um, be aware, kind of realize, what is the level of knowledge in one language and the other, no? We know that if students have strong native language skills, then they are going to be very likely transitioning into English instruction without a lot of additional support. If a student is struggling in their native language, then they're likely to need more support because their native language is not developed enough. Now, one of the issues that sometimes happens in schools is that for example, the student's in second and third grade and their native language is not strong enough and their English language is not strong enough. And then it becomes a little bit difficult, no? Because if we want to just teach them in Spanish, let's say, in their native language, then they're going to fall behind in English, you know? So the question is like, how long are we going to provide them with a native language instruction when the goal, or when in middle school, they are more likely to have only English instruction? And so there's when the teachers have to really make a decision and realize the world that the student is living in. Because sometimes we think that because a student has a Hispanic name or because their mom or their parents speak Spanish, then that's the only language they hear. And the reality is that many times students also hear English at home and speak English with their siblings. So the difference between Spanish and English is very, kind of, blurry. And trying to keep their Spanish, but without developing their English might end up also delaying them in developing their English skills, no? So there are lots of variations, in other words, in terms of how to best support students. And we have to really be aware of the context, again: where students are living and the language they are using and what the parents' preference is and which way they're going to go...I mean, what's the direction they're going to go in their level of proficiency to determine what will be the best way to assess them, in two languages or in one. Yeah.

Susan Lambert:  33:33

Hmm. And I would imagine that in your work, you've seen lots of different organizations, organizational structures for how schools do that. Um, both with English, Spanish or, or any other language development.

Dr. Doris Baker:  33:47
Yes, yeah,. All kinds of...and we really don't know which configuration or which type of bilingual program is the best. We do know that progress-monitoring and screening students and progress monitoring them in the language of instruction, so if there's a bilingual program, then we should assess them in both languages really to know how much progress they're making and how they're transitioning from one language to the other. And if it's a monolingual program, or let's say a transition program where they're speaking only in Spanish, in the beginning, they're learning to read in Spanish, then yeah: the focus should be on Spanish formative assessments. And if they need support, it should be in Spanish. But once they're starting to transition into English, or there is this process of changing, then they should be also assessed in English to see what the skills they are learning in Spanish are transferring to English. And if not, then kind of be prepared for that additional support for students.

Susan Lambert:  34:49
Hmm. That makes sense.

Dr. Doris Baker:  34:52
So that they can succeed.

Susan Lambert:  34:52
That makes a lot of sense. It's hard work for teachers in the classroom, though, when you're thinking about the variety of linguistic abilities and language abilities for our students. Um, how have you seen teachers successfully navigate that? Obviously the use of assessment data, right? <Laugh>

Dr. Doris Baker:  35:13
Yes, yes. That is important. And particularly early. What I have seen know, I teach pre-service teachers as well as master bilingual teachers who are doing their Masters. And one of the things I've found is sometimes they tell they are teaching fourth and fifth grade, and they tell me that they have students who cannot read and they have been in the system for four years, and yet they cannot read. And the students have never been assessed, have never been screened, to see if there is a problem or not. And so then it's when you worry about it because we do have screeners that are very reliable in the early grades, and so there's no reason for excluding bilingual students from from screening and progress-monitoring them in the language of instruction so that we really know how much progress they're making. Because as you can imagine, trying to figure out what students' difficulties are and at what level in fourth grade is much more complicated and complex than if we had supported them in kindergarten or first grade. Trying to really identify students early is very important to reduce reading difficulties later. Yeah.

Susan Lambert:  36:31
Yeah. Well, I just, lots of really great information here, and as we wrap up, I wonder if you have any advice or any final thoughts that you'd like to share with our listeners.

Dr. Doris Baker:  36:45

Yeah. I think that based on my own personal experience, as well as from working in bilingual research, I really think that we should embrace bilingualism and bilingual education much more than what we do. I think that nowadays we have the research and we know what works and why being bilingual is important and it's an asset that we should keep and <laugh> develop and evolve. And so, yeah, I would like to definitely, you know, have people think about it, like how can we bring bilingualism to all students, where it's English-only students as well as bilingual students, and how can we really build from what they know? I think that bilingualism also helps us understand the world better and become more open to different ways of thinking and behaving. And so I think there are so many advantages that we should not shy away from it as being a big, complicated problem, but more embracing it and seeing how we can really bring it to more people.

Susan Lambert:  37:53
I love that. I love the shift in...we've made a big shift in our conversation here in education about viewing second language learners as having a deficit versus asset-based. And just the advantage that bilingualism brings. And how developing that can be really, really important for the success of our students.

Dr. Doris Baker:  38:16
Yes, I think so, exactly. I think that seeing it as an asset and seeing that there are ways to teach them, and we know what works, we know how teaching should be with students who struggle or students when they don't understand. We know the focus that this instruction should be on. So I think that we have all the pieces there, and of course we have to do much more research to really fine-tune what we know right now, but it's not impossible and it's not an extra task and it's beneficial to everybody, even English-only students.

Susan Lambert:  38:54
Sure. Well, Dr. Doris Baker, thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to continuing the conversation and thank you so much for the work that you do.

Dr. Doris Baker:  39:04
Oh, you're very welcome. Yeah. Thanks for inviting me and good luck with everything else.

Susan Lambert:  39:14
Thank you so for joining and please join us for a free virtual symposium, Celebrating Biliteracy: Realizing a Better Future for Our Spanish Speakers. It's all happening on May 19th, 2022. At this special event, you'll discover how to celebrate and honor the unique skills, strengths, and needs your multilingual learners bring to the classroom, as well as how to accelerate literacy development for your Spanish speakers. Register now at the link in the show notes.