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. 

Sample Lesson Plan & Resource Walk

Access additional resources developed to introduce teachers to the work of supporting MLs’ home language development. These activities, a sample lesson plan and a resource walk, are designed to support learning about this instructional topic area through structured exploration of resources on the website. Click the buttons below to access these resources.

Strategies in action

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Evidence-Based Strategies and Resources


7A) Learn key words and phrases in the home language of children. Ask parents or community volunteers for help.


7B) Introduce key vocabulary words in the home language that are related to the content being taught, prior to teaching in English.


7C) Use cognates (e.g., art/arte, computer/computadora in Spanish) to emphasize connections between English and the home language (if applicable to the home language).


7D) Invite children to be experts and share their home language.


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).

Great Tips

Strategies are interrelated

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.

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Home Language Development

Alignment with Existing California Educator Guidance Documents & Resources

The Multilingual Learning strategies are closely aligned with existing guidance documents and resources for educators in California. Learn how Home Language Development strategies align with these existing resources, or to see how the standards align across all strategies, visit the alignment reference guide page.

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