“My immigrant grandparents were thrown into school with kids who spoke English and they survived. Why can’t kids do that today?” Some broadly held beliefs about language learning persist and strongly influence policy and pedagogy, despite what many language researchers agree are the best ways for students to learn English and other academic subjects. Myths and Realities, organized entirely around such misconceptions, reports conclusions from recent research about language learning clearly and accessibly while arguing for the need to give minority language students the opportunity to become literate in their first language so that they can use that strength to master academics in English. Though brief, the book is dense with research and covers a far-reaching terrain, debunking misconceptions about demographics, enrollment, native language learning, second language acquisition, placement, assessment, programming, staffing, and involving parents and community members. Interspersed scenarios that describe teaching situations with ESL students provide breathing room and time for reflection. Myths and Realities concisely guides educators to the best ways to help language minority students succeed.
Reviewed by Jill Davidson