Bilingual Program at Cougar Elem.

Helping your Child Since Day 1

Dear Parents,

We are excited because our new Literacy Program is up and running! We need your help, so that our program extends to the homes of every child of our school. Parental involvement is crucial to help our bilingual children be more prepared in our classrooms. We would like your cooperation, so that together, our students' performance grow immeasurably. Please read the rest of the newsletter for tips and more important information about the bilingual program and how you can improve your child's literacy at home. Thank you!


Reading Websites

Developing literacy in the child's native language is very important to develop English proficiency. The websites above provide extra resources in Spanish to use at home. You will find exciting cuentos, leyendas and stories about prominent figures in the world such as Gabriel García Márquez or Julio Cortazar. You will also find resources that you can use at home to engage your child in reading.

The Texas English Language Learners Portal

The Texas English Language Learners Portal provides important information regarding the bilingual programs in the state of Texas. The website can be read in English or Spanish. In it, you can find the different kinds of bilingual education and ESL services available for your child. You can also find a list of parent resources to help you prepare and support your child at school and home.

Texas English Language Learners Portal Link

Video about Bilingual Education

The bilingual teachers at our school have prepared a video about bilingual education. They talk about how important it is to develop literacy in the child's native language to achieve English proficiency. They also interviewed two students as examples of growth in the program. The teachers also emphasize how your support as parents at home is crucial for our students success in the classroom. We hope you enjoy it watching it.

Link to Video

A Note about Bilingual Education

Jim Cummins, a leader linguist on second language acquisition, has impacted education since the late 1970s. Cummins has helped educators to differentiate student’s language ability by developing the BICS and CALPS. The BICS, Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, refer to student’s listening and speaking abilities that are gained through social interaction with English-native speakers. The CALPS, Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency, refers to the academic language acquired through schooling. Cummins argues that second language learners take about one to two years of exposure to the second language to develop the BICS. He also contends that to develop the CALPS, students will take at least five years of exposure to academic English to reach the English-native speakers’ level (Freeman, 2007).

Furthermore, Cummins developed the Common Underlying Proficiency principle (CUP) to explain the “transfer of cognitive/academic or literacy-related skills across languages” (Cummins, 1983). It is the underlying knowledge of skills in learning a language and transferring those skills to other languages. Once people know how to do the former, speaking other languages will come easily because the base for developing a language is already established in their brains. Teachers need to reinforce and encourage the use of the native language at home so that it becomes richer and stronger. It would also serve as a platform so that students would pass techniques and abilities they learned when they acquired their first language to the second.

Cummins research explains why educational programs such as the Bilingual Program we have in our school require the students to participate in them for several years. Children need to have continuous exposure to both their native and the second language to develop the appropriate proficiency. According to Cummins, additive bilingualism will provide the platform for second language acquisition; additive bilinguals “would enjoy cognitive and academic advantages” (Ardasheva, 2012) than subtractive bilinguals. Cummins also believed that supporting the students’ first language was pivotal in learning the second language. Students are able to transfer their background knowledge in the first language to the second which will make second language acquisition a more straightforward process.

Jim Cummins Photo