Concept development for the Spanish-speaking child in the Southwest
Cairncross, Elba B.
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The purpose of this study was the recommendation of ways for the improvement of concept development for the Spanish-speaking child. Previous studies indicated that many Spanish-speaking children were scholastically retarded because of (1) inadequate language facility, and (2) cultural deprivations, such as lack of encouragement to get an education, poor health conditions, itinerancy, and inability to interact in the learning environment. Both the survey method and the statistical method were used in analyzing and synthesizing information relevant to concept development. Surveys of primary and secondary sources of information were made of psychological studies relating to (1) steps in concept formation, (2) sequential levels of concept development, and (3) utilization of concepts in learning. Likewise, surveys were made of linguistics pertinent to (1) a theory of language learning a method, (2) English as a second language--a tool, and (3) reading as an extension of language--a medium; and of the educational status of the Spanish-speaking learner in the following areas: Life adjustment Interaction with chronological age group Teacher evaluation of general achievement Sequential concept development General health conditions Personal reading activities Intelligence quotient Standardized test scores Based upon the analysis of data in the study the following interpretations were made: (1) Acceptable progress in life adjustment patterns occurred among children, as reflected in an average grade of B in citizenship, (2) Pupils had varied reading patterns, the greatest evidence of personal reading activity being in Ambient II, 1-59 per cent Spanish-speaking enrollment in a school, regardless of orientation. (3) The mean age of 12 7,9 months was normal--ten years for fourth grade pupils, as contrasted to ages of from ten to twenty years in some earlier studies. (4) An evaluation of a mean score of C in general achievement, and an Otis intelligence mean score of 92.3 were consistent with a standardized test score rating of almost on grade level in social studies, science, language arts, and reading. Pupils were on grade level in arithmetic. Earlier studies indicated mild to severe scholastic retardation and lower than normal intelligence quotients for many pupils. (5) The mean score, 17 0.6 days present, reflected a 95,4 percentage, an increase over percentages of 68 and 81 per cent in other studies. (6) Pupils' mean score in health indicated no impediments to learning. Based upon the analysis of research studies and a statistical comparison of two groups of Spanish-speaking children, the following findings were identified: (1) Language facility is a necessary component of concept development (2) Much inquiry remains on how one builds concepts and attains a second language facility (3) Several factors contribute to scholastic retardation: namely, a) conflicts between English and Spanish culture b) ambivalence among community members toward minority groups c) itinerancy d) inadequate teaching techniques for learning concepts in a second language e) a scarcity of materials suitable for the language-handicapped learner. The conclusions are limited to this study and may not be generalized to a total population. They are: (1) Many Spanish-speaking children are not attaining full benefits from education. (2) Linguistic science offers a possible means for improving concept development. (3) Suitable texts and techniques need to be developed. The following recommendations are made for improving concept development for the Spanish-speaking child: (1) A continuous rather than a sporadic pre-school emphasis should be placed on structure in English throughout the elementary grades. (2) The aural-oral method of teaching English as a second language should be scientifically used in conjunction with regular content lesson presentations. (3) Members of separate disciplines should be encouraged to cooperate and to research methods, media, and material for use with the Spanish-speaking child. (4) Teachers of Spanish-speaking children should be especially trained in a second language technique. (5) Community agencies should enlarge their roles in promoting education for every child.