In rural central California, newcomer teacher Efraín Tovar connects language learning with computer science through an app-development project where his multilingual middle school students learn how to code—in tandem with learning English. This practice of encouraging recent immigrant students with limited English proficiency to engage with technology gives them a chance to demonstrate their fluency in creative ways.
The students use a range of tools in their classroom, such as Lightbot.com for entry-level programming puzzles, Code.org for free CS curriculum resources, and MIT App Inventor for student-friendly app-development projects.
To dig into the research on coding and language learning, check out these resources:
- Shahira Popat and Louise Starkey’s systematic review of articles about educational outcomes for children learning how to code at school (2019)
- Scott R. Portnoff’s article making the case that introductory computer programming courses are actually language courses (2018)
- Chantel S. Prat, Tara M. Madhyastha, Malayka J. Mottarella, and Chu-Hsuan Kuo’s experiment with relating natural language aptitude to individual differences in learning programming languages (2020)