How do I connect with families that don't speak English?
This is an excellent question! And one we can (and will) write an entire article on. But the short answer is to remember these three things:
- Take an active interest in the family's language and culture. Ask questions, try to learn a few phrases in their home language, ask them to bring food or artifacts from their home culture, etc... Don't pretend that it doesn't exist.
- Treat the family's second language as an asset. Use this as an opportunity to make your classroom a multi-lingual classroom. Post and learn phrases from as many new languages as you can. Encourage families to read to their children in their home language. And remind students that knowing multiple languages is an advantage, not a burden.
- Use the opportunity to research your own linguistic background. Connect with your English Language Learners by researching and trying to learn some phrases from your own cultural background. Show your students and families that you value bilingualism by investing some time and energy into it yourself. Make the classroom a safe space to try new languages and share cultures by modeling it yourself.
If you have students who are learning English, you must check out Christina Thuli's Language Learning Resources.
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