This is a review of the articles, Tweets, Facebook posts and more which went out this week in and around our Multilingual Living universe. Thank you everyone for sharing your tips, tweets, emails and more with me! Were it not for you, this post wouldn’t even be here!
Educators: Support Our Home Languages!
For those of you on the Multilingual Living email list, you recently read my concerns about the lack of home language support in many classrooms around the world. I am not sure if most educators (or parents of monolingual and multilingual children!) are aware of the far-reaching consequences that this has on families who speak a non-community language at home. I am not just talking about recent immigrants! The truth is, we are all in this together.
The good news is that attention is finally being paid to studies that show that support for (and integration of) children’s home languages in school has linguistic, emotional, social and academic benefits. I don’t see why this should come as such a surprise to so many. Imagine we are put into a situation where we feel uncomfortable/eager/nervous/excited about our new school environment, yet (1) we are not only not allowed to use our home language, (2) over time we start to feel embarrassed that we even have another home language because it makes us different at an age when we would like nothing more than to fit in! Why do we as a society do this to our children, and consequently, to ourselves?
This is not just the case for preschoolers and kindergartners. This often happens to older children who are treated as if their home language and culture are unworthy and unimportant. It is no wonder that home languages die so very quickly in such an environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
My opinion of an ideal education for all children would be one where we learn subjects in more than one language: dual language programs. This would give students who speak another language at home the chance to feel that they fit in (regardless of the languages of instruction) and for those who are monolingual, it would give them the chance to become multilingual, global citizens. Note that I use the term “dual language program” broadly here, as I believe that different implementations are needed.
Here are some great links about the need for home-language support throughout our school system:
- Dual-language immersion targets both immigrant and native-born students: “Sofia has jumped a grade level in reading English. In the view of her mother – an Italian immigrant – Sofia’s achievement validates a growing body of research indicating that learning to read in students’ primary languages helps them become more fluent in English.”
- Facts and Tips – Young Dual Language Learners (Birth through 5 years): “Immersing children who are dual language learners in English-only programs at a very young age (i.e., when they are still in the active stages of learning language) may have negative long-term social, emotional, and academic consequences.”
- Meeting the Home Language Mandate – Practical Strategies for All Classrooms: “Preschool children cannot afford to miss out on content learning in their first language during the early years as they work on becoming fluent in English. And these children’s social-emotional development may suffer.”
- Message for Parents of ELLs: Success in English Starts with Supporting the Home Language! “Parents who speak another language often enroll their child in a preschool program with the expectation that total immersion in English will speed their child’s progress in American schools. Research tells us this is the wrong way to go.”
Education at It’s Best
I first saw this video on the Multilingual Mania website and loved it! Make sure to watch it long enough to see and hear students sharing what it means to be able to express themselves in more than one language!
Solid, Sound Reasons to Raise Our Children Bilingually
When I started to watch this video posted by Glottogon on their Facebook page, I was holding my breath waiting for someone in it to exaggerate the benefits of bilingualism. But it didn’t happen! This video is fulled of solid, sound, valid information about the benefits of raising bilingual children. Check it out and share it with someone who could use some support!
I hope you will be inspired by this Week in Review post and my recent email newsletter to talk with school administrators, educators and more in your area about the benefits of supporting home languages. Show them the research! Nothing may happen right now but you sew the seeds of thought and that is the most important!
Do you have any tips, suggestions or information that you would like to share with us at Multilingual Living? Join me on Twitter, get into the conversation on the Multilingual Living Facebook page, and send me an email whenever you’d like to connect. I always enjoy connecting with other bilingual and multilingual families!