Valuing first language
At Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service, we believe that language provides a fundamental bridge between communities. A focus on a wide range of languages-as many of the 124 currently spoken by Hampshire children as possible- helps build understanding about the children who use language(s) other than their own.
Innovative ways you can encourage use of first language
We have developed our Young Interpreters Scheme which aims to equip pupils with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to be able to support their newly arrived peers through the initial weeks and months. The value of a scheme such as this in parts of the country where there are isolated learners is that it doesn’t depend on particular resources and services being available locally, but harnesses ‘pupil power.’ It focuses inwardly at the considerable resource that pupils, staff and families have to offer.
Please see the relevant sections for further information on both schemes. Or contact us at the EMTAS Basingstoke office (telephone 01256 330195).
Other ways to value first language
We have a simple chart showing you the ways you can value first language of pupils. As well as displaying dual-language resources these could include celebrating festivals, learning greetings in other languages, arranging for an interpreter for parents' evenings and involving parents in storytelling activities.
Frequently Asked Questions about bilingualism
The National Literacy Trust has produced a very useful downloadable leaflet with Frequently Asked Questions about bilingualism.
Although EMTAS agrees with the National Literacy Trust it should also be noted that not all children respond positively to being praised publicly for using home language, sometimes they feel embarrassed and are worried to be picked on by their peers. Schools and settings should also have other strategies in place to value other cultures and languages. For example; displays, learning greetings, numbers, keywords in different languages, celebrating diversity, use of resources etc. It should be part of the everyday curriculum which would help the children to feel positive and proud of being bilingual.
Schools need to work closely with parents so they are giving the same message, children shouldn't be forced or pressurised to learn or speak in their first language, if the adults are positive and other languages/cultures are valued around them, it would help to motivate them and then they will feel proud to be praised publicly for being bilingual.
Schools may be interested in our Young Interpreters Scheme or providing Community Languages taster sessions. Further details are available from our main office, telephone 01256 330195.
I want information on:
- young interpreters
- community language taster sessions in schools