Bilingual Books Boost Literacy at Local School

February 9, 2017
Ohio State Spanish student Rachel Cannata reads a story to a group of first-graders at Salem Elementary School. Courtesy: Jill Welch

When Ohio State professor Jill Welch learned six years ago that some of the students at a local elementary school couldn’t read at home with their parents due to a language barrier, she knew just the solution.

Since then, Welch, a professor with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has ended every semester of her Honors Spanish Composition class by having her students write short stories in both Spanish and English for bilingual first-graders at Salem Elementary School. This way the first-graders can read the stories at home with their parents, who sometimes only speak Spanish.

The project started when Welch’s daughter, who was student-teaching at Salem Elementary School at the time, told her mom that some of her Spanish-speaking students were not able to read at home with their parents because many of their parents could not read English.

“It was at a time when I was getting ready to start a story-writing chapter in my honors composition class and I said ‘Oh my gosh, I could have my students write stories in Spanish, and then we could translate them, and then it went from there,’” Welch said.

Welch pitched her idea to Celeste Guglielmi, the English as a Second Language teacher at Salem Elementary School, and the two women collaborated to create the Bilingual Storybook Project. This, Welch said, helps college students improve their Spanish composition skills and have the opportunity to connect with a child in the community...Read more