Fast 5 Gamechangers: Yes, You CAN Support Any Home Language!
How many languages are spoken in your early childhood program? Most have 3 or more! New U.S. DOE and Head Start policies highlight the importance of supporting home languages and that can leave teachers feeling overwhelmed. How can you support so many different languages? We know you want to do what’s best for each and every child in your care, so here are some ideas that might help:
School and public librarians! Libraries have access to catalogs, interlibrary loans, and funding that teachers don’t see. And, children’s librarians are experts at finding the resources you thought could not be found. It only takes one visit or a phone call.
Family members! The first best resource for any child’s home language – no matter how rare – can be found right in their home. Ask family members to provide songs and chants, to record their voices telling or reading stories, and invite them to create or translate posters and display materials for the classroom.
University and organization volunteers! Look outside your walls for members of your community that speak different languages. University students and faculty might help provide materials in different languages. Email the embassy of a child’s home country to ask for free educational materials. Invite bilingual volunteers from local organizations to serve as conversation partners for DLLs.
Translation apps! Of course they are not perfect, but you can use them to translate a few key words in those unusual languages. Reading a story about bears? Find the word “bear” in each language. Doing an activity about plants? Help your DLLs understand by finding a few key words to introduce DLLs to your topic.
Videochat or Skype! Connect with schools, friends or family members in each child’s home country to share stories or songs in those home languages. Consider it a bonus that all of the children in the class can learn new words and get to know their friends.
Even the most uncommon languages are important to the children who speak them. Stay tuned for additional resources in future posts. If you have questions or solutions, please feel free to share in the comments.