Friday, May 16, 2008

Learning English outside

One thing that strikes me with regards to the issues teachers are having with immigrant children is that children start school too young here. If children didn't go to school until they were 6 (rather than 4) that would give the children of immigrants 2 years of being out 'on the road' learning to communicate in English. As it is, kids being raised by parents who can't speak English are too young to have made friends before they head off to school. And in Ireland there's a real emphasis on learning even when the kids are only 4 (unlike what I remember of nursery school & kindergarten in New York). Rightly or wrongly school for 4-year-olds is a lot more than finger-painting, etc.

When I started first grade in New York many of my classmates came from homes where their parents didn't speak much English. But, they were 6 years old and had absorbed enough English from playing outside or whatever to get by in school. That's not the case here.