7) What can I do to encourage home language development if I don’t speak the home language of all the Multilingual Learners in my classroom?
With the substantial language diversity across California, it is likely that many teachers will have at least one student in their classroom whose language they do not speak, even among bilingual teachers. Teachers who are not proficient in the child’s home language can still take important steps to support it.40 Learning and using key words in the home language and providing opportunities for children to hear their home language in class shows respect and interest in the children’s home languages and makes children feel valued.41 All teachers, regardless of whether they speak the home language, can and should do this. These practices will help create a welcoming classroom environment where each child, culture, and language background is valued and children are excited about language diversity. It can also help English-only speaking children understand that other languages exist and have different characteristics (an aspect of metalinguistic awareness), and foster respect for other languages and cultures.
7E) Invite parents and other speakers of the home language to join classroom activities to speak, tell, and share stories, and to read in the home language (for example, invite parents to read a story in the home language before reading the same story in English).
Individual strategies across the different instructional topics are interconnected and should be implemented together, in a purposeful and connected manner throughout instruction, and not in isolation. Make sure to also consider your classroom or school’s language model when implementing the strategies and adapt accordingly.