Use these guidelines to help you assess the literacy development of children who are learning English as a second language:

1. Learn as much as you can about the child's home background and culture.

  • Read about the cultural heritage of the child.
  • Make a home visit, with a translator if necessary.
  • Ask experts in the culture to help you better understand the culture.

2. Understand that learning a second language is a complex process that develops over time.

  • Children first use only their home language.
  • Many children stop talking entirely.
  • When they begin to speak English, children often use a couple of words to express whole ideas.

3. Use anecdotal observations to record the variety of ways children are using English, including the ways they:

  • express feelings.
  • convince others of their point of view.
  • use rhyming words as they sing or chant to themselves or each other.
  • ask for the names of things.
  • talk about a past experience.
  • tell a story.

4. Assess children's language in the entire context of children's lives.

  • Ask children to tell you what they've learned that's special to them.
  • Talk with each child's parents and family about what the child is doing and learning at home.
  • Expand family resources, making sure each family has a library card, provide books in children's home language, and invite families to volunteer in the center.