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4 Ways to celebrate National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month

Time to complete: 

April marks National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month, a dedicated time to spotlight the fastest growing student population and emphasize the significance of advocating for equity and inclusion in education. 

This month is an opportunity to help our ML students feel empowered by their own strengths and better educate their classmates on the benefits of multilingualism. Here are three ways you can celebrate and support students:

1. Elevate the benefits of multilingualism

English learners contribute invaluable linguistic diversity to our communities and educational institutions. Their presence in our communities, classrooms, and workplaces benefits us all, and it’s important to educate others about the significance of multilingualism and uplift these learners. Some unique assets of multilingual learners include:

  • Enhanced cognitive flexibility, creativity, and problem-solving
  • Deepened appreciation of diverse cultures and perspectives
  • Nurtured sense of identity and resilience
  • Strengthened cross-cultural understanding
  • Augmented cognitive development and academic success
  • Enhanced memory and communication abilities

ELs bring a rich array of cultural and linguistic assets into the educational landscape, which educators should harness to their fullest potential.

2. Learn about famous EL advocates

Advocates for English learners are all around us. Here are a few people advocating for equality and equity for ELs:

Guadalupe Valdés delves into the linguistic and educational needs of immigrant-origin children, emphasizing the significance of valuing students' home languages and cultural backgrounds. 

Kenji Hakuta promotes culturally responsive teaching practices and works to ensure equitable learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their linguistic backgrounds.

Giselle Lundy-Ponce works to amplify the voices of ELs, advocating for policies and programs that support their academic success and linguistic development. 

Jim Cummins emphasizes the importance of bilingualism and cultural background in academic achievement, while collaborating with educators and policymakers to support ELs.

Countless advocates tirelessly dedicate themselves to supporting English learners; those mentioned are just a glimpse. Educators everywhere bring their full selves to the classroom, advocating passionately for their students daily.

3. Check out EL advocacy groups

There is so much exciting work happening to further the progress of supporting ELs across the country. Here are just a few organizations that are working hard to advocate for ELs: 

TESOL International Association: TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is one of the largest professional organizations for educators of English learners. 

National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE): NABE is an organization focused on advocating for bilingualism and biliteracy, particularly in educational settings. 

Colorín Colorado: This is a bilingual website and initiative that provides resources for educators and families of English learners. 

The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA): NCELA is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and provides resources, research, and technical assistance related to English learners and English language acquisition programs.

The Wisconsin Center for Education Products and Services (WCEPS): The Wisconsin Center for Education Products and Services (WCEPS): WCEPS works to bring education research and development to the general public through their WIDA-licensed workshops, and WCEPS CARE Coaching that frequently offers free webinars as high-quality professional learning opportunities for educators of English learners.

4. Foster self-advocacy from our EL students

Finally, we can empower our multilingual learners to become their own best advocates by building their confidence and communication skills and providing opportunities to voice their own needs.

“One of the most important pieces, in my opinion, is the self-advocacy of students or self-regulation of learning where they're able to communicate,” says Yvonne Williams from WCEPS. “Students who don’t feel that they’re able to be successful will give up. Everyone has their own journey, but we need to provide them the opportunity to advocate for themselves and tell us what they need to learn.”

The fastest and most effective way to join in this month is by highlighting the ELs in your life and ensuring that their voice is always heard. Happy National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month from Ellevation!