74. Do I need to modify from cursive to print?

I am going to assume that this question refers exclusively to English Learners who speak and write an alphabetical language as their native language, using the Roman alphabet, just like English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, etc. This question would NOT refer to English Learners who speak and write using other writing systems.

Generally speaking, American students learn to read and write using print-letters, that is, letters similar to the ones used in this answer. Capital letters, "A," "B," "C," "D," "E," "F," etc., or lower case letters, "a," "b," "c," "d," "e," "f," etc., are used during the initial stages of learning to read and to write in English. In third or fourth grade, students learn "cursive" writing: This is cursive writing.

The question refers to young English Learners, that is, students who enter American public schools in Kinder or at first, second or third grade. In most Spanish-speaking countries, students learn to read and write using "cursive" writing. Cursive writing, NOT print, is what young Spanish-speaking first, second or third graders have learned in their countries. When confronted with English reading books all written in "print," English Learners may need to learn a new system of reading and writing: "print." American teachers do NOT introduce or ever use "cursive" writing in the lower elementary grades.

My recommendation to American teachers of English Learners is to continue to teach cursive writing to younger students who already know how to use cursive writing. There is no point in making these students forget what they have learned, and then re-teach the same skills at a later grade. Concurrently, teachers can SHOW students, in PRINT, what they read and write in cursive. It should be very easy to transfer cursive writing to print, especially if the teacher constantly pairs both writing systems every time (s)he displays words.

Eventually, ALL students need to master BOTH, print and cursive writing. Teaching both systems, side by side, to English Learners (and to ALL students) in the early grades should prove a very easy thing to do. Similarities need to be emphasized. Thus, teachers should begin introducing BOTH systems using the letters that look very much alike in both systems. Practice at the computer, changing FONTS, should prove to be a very interesting activity for younger learners.

Research on this topic is lacking and I encourage teachers to explore this topic in their own classrooms.


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
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Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

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