from January 9, 2019
On January 9, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed heritage learners and how best to support them within a class of students with mixed proficiency levels. Participants also recommended strategies to support heritage learners’ literacy skills and involving their home community in the school.
Q1: What is a heritage language learner?
Participants agreed that a heritage learner is someone who is exposed in some way to the TL. They may speak the TL at home, they may be literate in the TL, or they understand it but cannot use it to communicate. Several teachers have students who speak different levels of the TL, but it is dialect such as Haitian Creole or Congolese French, rather than the dialect of the class.
Q2: How can we support heritage language learners as they form part of a classroom community of mixed proficiencies?
First, get to know the students and determine if they are comfortable with other students knowing their background. If a student can already speak the TL, encourage reading and writing activities to promote biliteracy. Other recommendations included realizing that early language classes all have mixed proficiency levels and so empower HLLs to be leaders and examples for other students. Finally, use the TL to teach content so that all students learn something new and engaging.
Q3: How can we support the heritage language learners’ literacy skills?
@SraConnell “FVR!!!” (Free Voluntary Reading, see this article https://tinyurl.com/yada4bhx)
@kaitlin31415 “I love read alouds and focusing thematic units around books.”
@Sra_Kennedy “Text rich classrooms, variety of books at different levels, sentence frames…etc.”
@MaCristinaRV “How about introducing your heritage learners to the Global Goals?” (http://worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org/)
@MundodePepita “This can be especially challenging w FLES given the short time frames many of us have w our students & the age range. One big area is to encourage families to read to their children at home in the heritage lang, provide books if necessary!”
@MaestraAubreyCT, “I hold them to a higher level of grammatical accuracy & spelling. Give them more complex texts – Newsela is great for this. Again, this is about a classroom environment where we recognize diverse levels of proficiency, and pushing all Ss from where they are.”
@gardnerkb1, “Creating a positive & safe classroom environment where Ss are motivated & engaged in learning the language. I use scaffolds / supports for Ss of all levels to succeed in tasks. Also love integrating technology to prompt/guide Ss in creating personalized products.”
Q4: How can we motivate young heritage language learners to become lifelong language learners?
Two main themes emerged: relationship building and showing them that their culture and language is a valuable resource. Relationships are the key to successful teaching, taking an interest in what students do outside the classroom makes them feel a sense of connection to the teacher and the class as a result. It also helps to build their confidence and allows them to feel valued along with their culture. If the teacher and other students show an interest and love for the language, it can inspire HLLs to see the value of bilingualism/biliteracy.
Q5:How can we involve heritage language learners’ at-home community in #earlylang class?
Participants had several suggestions. One is to invite parents to take part in the class or to talk about their native countries. Another idea is to have parent nights or community events and invite the parents to join and share their language and culture as part of those events. Sometimes, an incentive for the student, such as a homework pass or free choice time during class, will be enough to get them to invite their parents.Finally, talk with students about the importance of language learning and continuing their studies in middle and high school while encouraging them to have their parents attend school functions.
Reflaction (reflection + action)
Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, M Cristina Rdz–Villa (@MaCristinaRV), and our co-moderator, Julie (@MundodePepita), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.
Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1