BILINGUAL MUSIC PROGRAMMING AND PRELITERACY
Exposure to and eventual fluency in the English language is necessary for academic success in U.S. schools. Conservative estimates suggest there are over 5.5 million students attending U.S. public schools whose first language is not English; of this group, 80% are fluent in Spanish (McCardle et al. 2005). When ELL (English Language Learner) children attend school they have to face the daily challenge of learning to communicate and read in a language that is different from the one that is spoken in their home (Lindsey et al. 2003; Páez et al. 2007). Unfortunately, statistics have consistently shown that ELL children are at risk for poor reading outcomes, and even proficient bilingual children begin kindergarten with language and preliteracy skills that are below expectation (Hammer et al. 2007; Páez et al. 2007).
Where can ELL children go to improve their preliteracy skills prior to entering kindergarten? The most obvious choices are preschools, early starts, and head-start centers. However, the local public library and elementary school library can also play an integral role in developing and fostering language and preliteracy skills. In the U.S., the ability to offer bilingual programming has become an essential part of being a children’s librarian as the Latino community is the largest and fastest-growing minority group, exceeding 3.94 million people (U.S. Census Bureau 2008). Outside of a classroom, music might be the only major source of English that an ELL child will hear; thus the integration of music into a preliteracy learning setting, such as a school or library, can assist a child’s language development and academic learning while simultaneously allowing them to develop musically (Bolduc 2009; Wiggins 2007).
This chapter will discuss how music can help ELL children with language and preliteracy development, the musical tale, and ways children’s librarians can use the musical tale in bilingual musical literacy-based programming. In addition, suggestions for bilingual music-oriented programming, websites, musical tale titles, and CDs are also provided to assist children’s librarians and other educators in creating valuable learning experiences for children. (more…)