Early Years- How do I create a bilingual classroom?

Often when out training around the UK the subject of bilingualism comes up particularly in the Early years classroom. I thought that maybe this news article looking at building bridges may share some of the  teachers experiences and spark ideas on how it can be achieved in your classroom.

These are the excerpts that I felt were the most useful.

How many corners are in a square? How many sides?

Most kindergartners would answer “four.”

But for kids in the dual-language program at two Urbana elementary schools, the answer is “cuatro.”

This is useful because it demonstrates that any teacher can be a langauge learner even if they only have the basic number knowledge themselves, more importantly Maths teachers can use a childs knowledge to reinforce the new academic lanaguge.

For example, native English speakers began the year by answering questions in Spanish with answers in English. They understood the questions but didn’t necessarily feel confident replying in the same language.

This shows that you dont have to rush through work at the childs pace and recognise that it is ok to understand in one langauge but until your knowledge of the vocabularly improves then answering in your strongest language is fine.

Many schools also want the ability to engage with their parensta dn the community which can be difficult in areas where another langauge is predominnat in the community.  However thsis chools see bilingualism as a bridge to recah these parents.

“Learning Spanish is about much more than learning another language; it is about building bridges among people and understanding there are different realities,” Adams said. “Parents would like to have opportunities for families to interact and get to know each other.”

“Every (cultural heritage) deserves the opportunity to shine,” Stamper said, and teaching students about culture now will benefit them and even give them the opportunity to pass it on to their children.

Bilingual classrooms have given both students — and parents — an opportunity to share and learn from each other. For instance, sometimes Spansh-speaking adults from different cultures have to compare different words for the same objects, she said.

We understand each other better and communicate better,” she said of parents

and from the lips of the children…what more can we say

“It’s actually quite fun,” she said, adding that she’s never gotten confused. “It’s nice, ’cause I can talk to more people.”


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