At a glance

Lead researcher:

Marjorie Faulstich Orellana,

Northwestern University

Key findings:

Children of immigrant parents often perform translating tasks for their families that are more complex than educators realize. They also may build a range of literacy skills that can boost their test scores.

Who was studied:

Researchers surveyed 280 children at a predominantly Latino elementary school on the Northwest Side, and observed 18 of them at home and school.


Teachers need professional development to understand the link between family translating and literacy skills. They also need to view children’s primary language as a resource rather than an obstacle.

For more information:

The study, “In other words: Translating or ‘para-phrasing’ as a family literacy practice in immigrant households,” can be found in Reading Research Quarterly, Jan./Feb./Mar. 2003, published by the International Reading Association.