Article Critique: English Language Learners

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¶ … Scaffolding of Emergent Literacy Skills in the Home Environment," Neumann, Neumann and Hood sought to discover the effect that home learning, through a child's parents, could have on emergent literacy skills. The researchers were particularly interested in the effect of the scaffolding strategy, which consists of the teacher (in this case, the parent) modeling the task that they are trying to teach and then gradually transferring the task to the child in the hopes that he or she will follow the model the teacher or parent has demonstrated. Another factor that interested the researchers was the use of "environmental print" as opposed to typical reading materials. Environmental print is described by the researchers as print on everyday items such as "product labels, clothing, road signs and advertisements" (p. 314).

Learning the shapes and sounds of letters from environmental print was the primary educational task. The main reasons that the researchers chose to use environmental print over traditional reading materials was that they are more informal and less expensive. However it has also been known to help a child's conceptual development in terms of associating meaning with certain objects that contain printed material, which are encountered on a routine basis.

The article is based on a single subject case study; namely a six-year-old child named Harry, whose mother had been recording the nature of important verbal exchanges and "literary interactions" that had occurred since he was two years old. Specific efforts were made by Harry's mother to raise his "print awareness" through repetition and scaffolding techniques. For example, the mother would trace and repeat the letters on a food package, encouraging Harry to do the same. He would then respond by imitating his mother's tracing motions until he learned the shape and feel of the letter. He would then repeat the sound of the letter out loud with her until he learned the sound of the letter. This type of technique was used on Harry every day from the age of two.

As he got older, Harry was able to distinguish print from pictures more easily and also began to spontaneously point out environmental print. According to the article, "The mother used a multisensory approach to scaffold the learning of letter shapes. Such an approach can lead a child to process and retain language knowledge more efficiently" (p. 315).

Over time, Harry began to initiate letter tracing all on his own -- he no longer needed his mother to cue him to trace and sound out letters on environmental print, on plastic letter magnets or in books. He became increasingly adept at identifying letters in different contexts, while his mother recorded his progress regularly. He was enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy identifying the letters in environmental print. This is consistent with the researchers' understanding that young children tend to enjoy working with in the context of environmental print.

Similar techniques were used to enhance Harry's writing skills. The article includes visual examples of how Harry's writing and drawing progressed at ages two, three, four, five and six. While it was determined that for the most part his progression was "normal," there were occasions when he reached certain benchmarks prior to the average timeline. This advancement was attributed in great part to the scaffolding techniques employed… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

English Language Learners.  (2010, March 16).  Retrieved December 10, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/english-language-learners/747

MLA Format

"English Language Learners."  16 March 2010.  Web.  10 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/english-language-learners/747>.

Chicago Format

"English Language Learners."  Essaytown.com.  March 16, 2010.  Accessed December 10, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/english-language-learners/747.