Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I give the Estrellita Accelerated Reading Program a Gold Star!

Throughout my first seven years of teaching in second and third grade, I continuously returned to my Estrellita materials every time I received a student who had not yet cracked the code of reading in Spanish.  I found its unique method to be the most efficient and effective in moving those students from learning letter sounds to blending syllables to decoding and writing polysyllabic words.  

When I began writing curriculum for my school district six years ago, I met with other experienced bilingual primary teachers to discuss the best resources and methods that should be included.  Many of these teachers were native Spanish-speakers that had received their initial literacy education in Peru, Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia.  As we looked at different methods about teaching Spanish reading, we had many arguments discussions about the best way.  We kept coming back to the question about which was better:  ma-me-mi-mo-mu or ma-pa-sa-la?  

We decided to email Estrellita with our question and, shortly after, my phone rang.  Karen Meyer, the author of Estrellita, was on the phone.  I felt like I was talking with a celebrity!  As Karen explained the rationale of her program, we all began to understand why Estrellita was so uniquely effective with our bilingual students in the US.  

Unlike a primary student in a native Spanish-speaking country, most of the students that enroll in PK and Kindergarten bilingual programs in the US are simultaneous bilinguals.  While Spanish is their primary and dominant language, they have been exposed to English phonics through television, educational toys, etc.  So, when you ask a bilingual four-year old about the sound of the letter “A”, who knows what sound he may provide?  

Traditional Spanish reading programs move quickly through the vowels and focus on blending with one consonant at a time.  Estrellita takes into account the potential vowel confusion that can occur with simultaneous bilinguals and focuses initially on mastery of the vowels and blending one vowel with a variety of consonants.  Since there is transfer between the majority the consonants, I have seen my struggling students struggle less with this method than with the ma-me-mi-mo-mu method.  

I can honestly say that I have yet to work with a student who has not been able to learn letter sounds and blend syllables when I consistently used the Estrellita method.  It is systematic and it works and provides the perfect springboard for moving your students along in their journey of reading!

This week, we are featuring a giveaway of one of Estrellita's resources for allowing students to practice the program at home.  The giveaway closes on Friday afternoon.  Find out more information here!

1 comment:

  1. My school is launching our dual language program in in kindergarten and trying to make a decision on a Spanish phonics/phonemic awareness program. Have you compared Estrellitas with other programs, such Aprendamos a Leer and Esperanze?


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