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Raising bilingual and biliterate students is a challenge. As the academic rigor increases in the program, families may become apprehensive and have many questions. Whether they are native speakers of the partner language or not, they’ll eagerly seek resources and support. Help families feel at ease by having responses to some of the most frequently asked questions, listed below, as their child begins a dual language program.
There are many resources, both online and offline, available for families to use at home with their dual language student. Some resources you can provide families with are:
Create an online forum, such as a Google Family Classroom, or monthly virtual or face-to-face Q & A meetings for families to connect, especially with those whose home language is different from their own, in order to set up homework hotlines or virtual playdates where they can showcase each of their home languages. Encourage families to ask their child to explain the assignment in their own language and have conversations around the similarities and differences between the two languages.
More than anything, encourage families to have fun learning a language alongside their child. Memory games, flash cards, language learning apps, bilingual story podcasts, and make-your-own board games are all ways families can connect with the partner language.
As a teacher, provide ongoing communication whether through a weekly newsletter, online meeting, or monthly calendar, describing the topics that are being taught, and providing an overview of any assignments. Record any messages that might offer specific suggestions for emergent bilinguals and send them via text or email. The more information you provide families with, the less apprehensive they will feel about language learning.
Families must be made to feel welcomed and respected, regardless of any cultural differences that may exist. Keep in mind that in many cultures, involvement in a child’s education consists of simply providing them with the resources and environment they need to be successful.
Create family education opportunities to provide information about the educational system in place, the benefits of dual language, and the opportunities that exist at your school for their involvement. Foster home-school connections by recognizing the assets that families bring to the school and tapping into them throughout the year.
With encouragement and communication, dual language teachers can help families feel confident about their decision, and serve as a reminder of the incredible benefits of bilingualism for children.
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