Starting a Heritage Language Book Club

A book club can help students who mainly use English but speak another language at home gain valuable literacy skills in the home language. Our school’s book club for heritage Spanish speakers—students who learned that language at home....

but whose dominant language is English—was born out of necessity: We faced the magnificent problem of having students who knew too much. The student rosters for our middle school Spanish classes made this very clear. Although the majority of the students were monolingual English speakers, there were also students whose mother tongue was Spanish. Because the latter group possessed vocabulary and linguistic skills exceeding those of both their peers and indeed their teachers, it was evident that they deserved far more than what they would learn in an introductory class.

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