It’s Hope Week for World Read Aloud, and it got us thinking about hope as a key ingredient in the journey of our bilingual readers’ community.
Having hope is great resource in our path toward improving literacy as a whole. Having hope is great when it comes to motivating ourselves to expose our kids to another language in any way we can.
But it is not enough to hope our kids will grow up bilingual just because they are in contact with another language in school, at home or both. It’s not enough to hope they’ll become bilingual by watching endless YouTube hours. We cannot leave language acquisition and development to fate, to random situations or aim for limited vocabulary.
What can we do to build on hope?
- Provide concrete resources (aka scaffolding): As teachers we don’t have to have all the answers, all the tools and the resources, but we must be able to look for them, investigate, and distill information or strategies, and then pass them on to our kids in ways that support their own efforts.
- Provide concrete encouragement (aka emotional scaffolding): ELL’s and ESL’s of all ages need all the encouragement they can get. Sometimes, the best support we can give involves nothing more than believe. When we believe, we not only hope our child will learn another language, we believe she is capable, and we show it.
- Ask questions: Questions are foundations for learning and opportunities for self-discovery. As we ask our kids for feedback about their bilingual experiences, about the books they read, the stories they listen to or the social interactions they are having, we’ll be able to incorporate what they are learning into more areas of their lives, or reassess our scaffolding strategies all together.
- Find partners: Raising bilingual children is a community effort. As mentioned above, concrete resources don’t have to come just from you. You can contact and share information and resources with reading partners at your school, town or country, there’re people and organizations all over the world putting great free content and resources out there.
This hope week offers you an opportunity to build on hope with community. Don’t wait another day, reach out! #TeachingBilingual