5 Ways To Support Multilingual Children To Develop The School Language

Langaloo and colleagues in Holland looked at 31 studies of teacher-child interaction with multilingual children and how they compare with teacher-child interactions with monolingual children. Essentially, they conclude that where children have low skill levels in the school language, teachers need to: 

  1. support children’s understanding by using non-verbal communication (bearing in mind that there are cultural differences in non-verbal communication). This means natural gestures but you’ll need to make sure that your gestures mean what you intend them to mean!
  2. create consistent, predictable classroom routines that take the stress out of trying to understand what’s going on. Visual schedules are great for this so children can work out the sequence of events for the day without having to rely on language to know what’s coming next. 
  3. use the child’s home language in the classroom 
  4. avoid downward biases when creating classroom activities for multilingual children so that you don’t create learning and developmental gaps between monolingual and multilingual children. Activities need to be engaging and challenging. They may know the concepts already and the language for them in their home languages and now they’re learning the school language for these concepts. Of course, they will be learning new concepts too.
  5. develop awareness of differences between the majority and home cultures  

In my last post, I shared ideas for day care which you can also apply in school. You can read it here.

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What I read so you don’t have to:

Langaloo, A., Lara, M., Deunk, M., Klitzing, N. & Strijbos, JW. (2019). A systematic review of teacher-child interactions with multilingual young children. Review of Educational Research 89(4): 536-568. 

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