Ongoing Assessment Question 3

3. How can students' literacy activities in their first language be assessed? Research has found that first-language literacy skills can facilitate students' acquisition of literacy skills in their second or foreign language. Research has also proven that family literacy can greatly enhance students' chances for academic success. It is very common for schools to encourage and in some cases require that children participate in family literacy experiences with their parents or other family members. Although it may be difficult to find books in children's primary languages, many public libraries across the nation have made a concentrated effort to develop collections of books in different languages. English language learners should be included in family literacy programs even though it may be difficult for teachers to assess the reading that has taken place in their first language.

There are a number of different strategies that can be used to assess literacy activities in children's primary languages. For example, students can make graphic organizers, including simple story maps, to indicate that they have read and attempted to comprehend books in their primary languages. Students can also keep records indicating how much time they have spent reading books in their primary language. Parents can initial these records.

Students can also produce written products about the books that they have read. These include book reports, reviews, or other summaries of stories. Parents who have literacy skills can be encouraged to rate or rank their student's work using a number system between 0 and 10. (Grades such as A, B, C, D and F are not used in many other countries and could be confusing for non-English speaking parents.)

More information on assessing native language literacy is available under Questions 3 and 4 of the Initial Assessment section of this site.