Tag Archives: bilingual students

Preparing Your Classroom for Bilingual Students

cartoon children in front of a school with "hello" in many languagesIt may be hard to believe, but summer is coming to an end. Beach days and family barbecues will soon be behind us. You find your mind is full of lesson plans and an incoming class of new faces. As you’re organizing shelves and deciding on the optimal classroom layout, remember to consider the needs of your bilingual students. Now is the perfect time to create a welcoming classroom that reflects acceptance and diversity right from the start.

Create an Inclusive Classroom

You want all of your students to feel like the classroom is their own by decorating it with images that represent and support diversity. If possible, find out the cultures that will be represented in your class roster before school begins.

"Hello" "Welcome" and "Thank You" posters in many languages

Bilingual students are proud to see their home languages reflected in dual language books and multicultural posters. Create a bilingual listening and reading center, where students can read in comfort. Introduce the class to interesting and exciting aspects of different languages, cultures and countries. Traditional foods, stories, holidays and history are just a few subjects that are sure to be a hit.

Be Supportive, Yet Sensitive

Teachers often walk a fine line between giving bilingual students extra care and attention, without making them feel singled out as being different. When you discuss other languages and cultures in your class, do so generically, so that any one student doesn’t feel singled out. Your sensitivity to their needs will ensure any class discussions increase your bilingual students’ confidence.

Some students like to talk about where they, or their parents, are from. They want to answer their classmates’ questions. However, not all bilingual children feel they are different from their peers. Let each student decide what makes him/her unique and special. For those who have negative feelings associated with having a different home language, try and determine what will help them feel more accepted and appreciated in the classroom.

Find Bilingual Resources

stack of multicultural bilingual children's books

Gather bilingual books and other learning materials in your students’ home languages. Not only will it help students feel more welcome, it will also improve their literacy skills. Check out our post Bilingual Children: Benefits of Learning to Read in the Home Language for more information and tips.

You can also adapt your lesson plans to reflect the unique make-up of your students’ cultural backgrounds. Our free lesson plan “Understanding and Appreciating Cultural Differences includes a fun “I am Unique” Scavenger Hunt.

Prepare Information for Bilingual Parents

It’s important to engage the parents of your bilingual students. Help them understand the vital role they play in developing the language and literacy skills of their children. Provide them with materials in their home language. Allow students to borrow bilingual books, and encourage parents to read them at home together.

Find Your Support Network

Where can you find support during the school year? Familiarize yourself with ways your school district can support you. Are there financial resources you can utilize, or administrators who can assist teachers of bilingual students? Look into joining the local chapter of your state’s bilingual educators association.

A supportive and understanding teacher can make all the difference in the life of a bilingual child. The entire class also benefits from learning about other cultures through the eyes of their fellow classmates. Helping bilingual children blossom and shine in the classroom is truly a rewarding endeavor.

Congratulations to Winner of $100 Bilingual Book Grant

Thanks to all those who entered Language Lizard’s $100 Bilingual Book Giveaway!

Congratulations to our winner Robin Vander Groef from NORWESCAP Head Start in Newton, NJ!  Robin is planning to use the funds to buy books for use in the Head Start classrooms.  She is interested in bilingual children’s books in Spanish, Chinese and Urdu, and authentic books that represent the culture.

Based on the great response and the clear need for dual language books, we are planning on holding additional giveaways in the future.  To make sure you don’t miss any future giveaways, please sign up for our newsletter at http://www.languagelizard.com/newslettersignup.htm.  Giveaways are also announced on our Facebook page and via Twitter.

Bilingual Children: Benefits of Learning to Read in the Home Language

bilingual children: Benefits of Learning to Read in the Home Language

We only learn how to read once. This is true for all of us: monolingual, bilingual or multilingual. Once we figure out how literacy works, it is with us forever.

The best part about bilingual children learning to read is that once they figure it out in one language, they can transfer their literacy to their other language(s)! It is a feat that can be mastered in leaps and bounds in any of a number of languages once the process is underway.

As we know, the key to literacy is language. For those first “ah ha” moments of literacy to occur, bilingual children need to know what the words are that they are reading. Sounding out a word on the page is useless if in the end the student still doesn’t know what the word actually means. This is an important reason why bilingual children should be encouraged to work on their literacy skills in their stronger language, which, for most children, is the language spoken at home. Continue reading Bilingual Children: Benefits of Learning to Read in the Home Language

Bilingual Books in Bilingual Classrooms

Bilingual Books for Bilingual Classrooms

Picture this: A classroom bustling with students engaged in a variety of activities. On one side of the room, the teacher mingles with a group of students who are working on a collage. It is spread out across a wide table and students are discussing, in English and Spanish, where to place the different items. The teacher meanders by, a student asks for some advice in English, and a short discussion takes place.

A few minutes later the same teacher approaches a student sitting in a bean bag chair on the floor reading a book in English. The student asks the teacher, in Spanish, about the meaning of one of the words in the book, and together they talk about the word and its context in the sentence.

This easy movement between two languages is happening in many bilingual classrooms throughout the United States.  Not only do classrooms such as these help non-English speaking students learn English, it also helps native English speakers learn a second language.  Bilingual classrooms give students the opportunity to become truly bilingual. Continue reading Bilingual Books in Bilingual Classrooms

5 Tips to Help Bilingual Children Shine in the Classroom

Back-to-school sales line the aisles of supermarkets and drug stores; children roam department stores picking out new fall clothes; and parents rush around with check-lists of items their children will need in the coming weeks and months.

Yes, the school year is about to begin.

For bilingual children, this time of year may feel a little daunting, especially for those who will be starting school for the very first time. In addition to all of the feelings that many students face on their first day of school (nervousness about what the teacher may be like, excitement about meeting new friends, concerns about what will be expected), bilingual children may have additional worries: Will they fit it? Will their English language skills be up to par. Will they understand everything that the teacher says? Will other students make fun of them because of their accent?

For teachers who are not used to working with bilingual children, there may be an assumption that to help these bilingual children feel comfortable in the classroom they will need extra attention. This may very well be the case, but if it is not done with care it can backfire. A bilingual child who already feels out of place may feel even more so if a teacher ends up giving him too much special attention. What a bilingual child may want the most is to have the chance to fit in and to be just like everyone else, not singled out due to special circumstances.

Continue reading 5 Tips to Help Bilingual Children Shine in the Classroom