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"provide opportunities for children to develop and use their home language in their play and learning"

 

I keep seeing this on Ofsted reports. We tend to have one or two children each year with EAL and up till now it has been a new language each year Russian, followed by Korean, followed by polish. Has any body addressed this issue and if so what ideas did you come up with.

 

thanks

seebee

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Getting the parents involved if none of your staff speak the languages. Parents can read stories and sing songs, even just talking to their child in their own language within the setting is helpful. We are about to start making tapes or cd's if we can master the technology of parents and carers reading stories in any language they chose, these will then be available to the chidlren to listen to.

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I ask parents to write a list - best done together for pronunciation - of key words in home language and use these regularly eg. snacktime, lunchtime, are you tired, listen, wait, look, good girl, well done etc

I borrow dual language books and have learnt rhymes to sing in the home language. the child i have with me is preverbal but i have asked parents to let me know what words she begins to use at home whether in spanish or english

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I ask parents to write a list - best done together for pronunciation - of key words in home language and use these regularly eg. snacktime, lunchtime, are you tired, listen, wait, look, good girl, well done etc

I borrow dual language books and have learnt rhymes to sing in the home language. the child i have with me is preverbal but i have asked parents to let me know what words she begins to use at home whether in spanish or english

this is what we try to do! but its so difficult getting parents to bring in lists! the one time a parent did she brought it in in punjabi!!! (she is a very good english speaker and writer as well!!! but we had a good giggle when she realised the staff counldnt read it- she then wrote it phoneticaly (sp!) for us!

 

another couldnt grasp what we wanted it for- she spoke english and a african dialect, the father spoke another dialect and the poor child was so confused! they speak to him all 3 languages but want him to only speak english!

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I saw THIS link on here a while back and it is amazing!!!!!! We use it all the time to learn home languages for our children.

 

We started to look at Polish as we had a new Polish speaking child arrive at the preschool. After the first few days the parents came to us and asked us not to speak polish to him as he heard lots of it at home, they had sent him to preschool to learn English and be intigrated in our country and culture!!

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I've just had an inspection and the inspector recommended things such as talking photo albums.

However, at parent consultations this past couple of weeks, all 6 of the families with other lanugages spoken at home said they absolutely do not want their child speaking anything other than english in the setting as this is one of the reasons they send them - to learn english from their peers so that they can be better prepared for school.

I've no objections to having parents in to teach our children nursery rhymes in different lanuages or telling familiar story in dual language, but to be criticised for having days of the week posters with english in bigger writing than all of the others and to be expected to have a talkling photo album per non enlgish speaking child, is unreasonable. At one point we have 13 different lanugages (children) between out 2 rooms, the fact that we have a team of 9 staff, consisting of spanish, polish, ukrainian, czech, bengali, wasn't deemed good enough.

 

Can you tell I'm still smarting about this? It doesn't help that our inaccurate report is still on the ofsted website.

I'll go and calm down now.

Sam

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I have a little A5 size form asking the parents to write the word/language the child would recognise for each.. ie.

TOILET

PLEASE

THANK YOU

DRINK

 

I don't have anyone at the moment tho. Hope that helps.

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However, at parent consultations this past couple of weeks, all 6 of the families with other lanugages spoken at home said they absolutely do not want their child speaking anything other than english in the setting as this is one of the reasons they send them - to learn english from their peers so that they can be better prepared for school.

It isn't always about children speaking their home language in the setting though - sometimes it is about children feeling proud of their heritage and of their ability to speak another language. Just seeing their home language in the environmental print around their setting and being able to access dual language books can be an enormous boost to children learning english as an additional language. Perhaps if parents thought about it in that way rather than thinking you're going to undo the good work in helping their child become proficient English speakers they might be a bit more relaxed about it.

 

Just goes to show that however good our intentions are to do the best for the children we care for, there is almost always another opinion to take into account! And as you quite rightly say, we do have to listen to the wishes and feelings of parents if we are going to work with them and not against them. Sometimes I think we need to 'teach' parents about how we do things and why in order to improve their children's chances - but we have to tread a very careful line between sharing our knowledge with them and making them feel as if their parenting skills and knowledge of their own child is not valued.

 

How do you say "I'm getting off my soapbox" in Polish? :o

 

Maz

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but we have to tread a very careful line between sharing our knowledge with them and making them feel as if their parenting skills and knowledge of their own child is not valued.

 

How do you say "I'm getting off my soapbox" in Polish? :o

 

Maz

 

I'll take your place on the soapbox Maz, I sometimes feel we're in danger of taking over in many areas that should belong to parents, just because Ofsted say so or its in the EYFS. Where do we draw the line in providing that which is expected by Ofsted and that requested by the parents. Personnaly I would put parents wishes first, unless 'parents are the first and most enduring educators of their children' is a lie!

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Agree with Maz's point regarding use of both languages actually supports and helps the development of learning English (the new language). Plus agree with the fine balance we tread when listening and responding to parent wishes alongside enabling childrens development through methods we know, as professionals, are successful.

 

I also empathise sam2368 about how some (not all) inspection experiences can make us feel like whatever we do, it's not good enough.

 

Peggy

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We have lots of culturally diverse resources, available all of the time, not as separate entities but as part of our everyday practice; I can't see how a photo album with a recording of mums voice will be beneficial for any longer than novelty period, maybe to go in the childs' drawer for them to get out as and when they choose. And how cost effective would it be when every child should have one so they too could hear their mums voice whilst away from her.

I think it's far more valuable to invite families in to the setting to share songs/customs rhymes.

It's saturday and the first week of the holiday - I promised myself a break, before I break!

Must switch the pc off......

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Personnaly I would put parents wishes first, unless 'parents are the first and most enduring educators of their children' is a lie!

Well I do think parents get a bad press sometimes, Rea. I read some posts on here and can see the writer's eyebrows raised in a permanent arch. :o However nor am I saying that parents always have the answers - heaven knows as a parent I often don't know what the question is, let alone the answer. But I do feel passionately that working in partnership with parents is more than a soundbite for the SEF but should underpin our practice and not just be something we pay lipservice to.

 

I also empathise sam2368 about how some (not all) inspection experiences can make us feel like whatever we do, it's not good enough.

I would bet there are some parents who feel that pre-school practititioners/teachers/school secretaries say the same about the people who work with their children, Peggy! xD

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However it is generally understood that using your home language whilst you are developing your use of a second language is a positive and constructive support for bilingual/additional language learners. Supporting parents to understand why it is important for their children to continue using and developing first languages is I feel part of our job. What would we say if a parent came in saying I don't want them using English only spanish. Would that parent be correct just because they wanted it to be like that??

 

This is quite useful here

 

 

" The early years forms a critical stage in children’s development. If children are to become and remain bilingual, settings and schools have a role to play in providing opportunities for additive rather than subtractive bilingualism. This means that English needs to be added to children's overall language repertoire rather than replacing or displacing their first languages. Thus the setting needs to make sure that by introducing English, children's first languages are not subtracted from the process. One way that this can happen is to ensure that children have continued opportunities to hear and use their first languages.

 

The need to build on young children’s previous learning experiences is enshrined in early years pedagogy in many parts of the world, and in particular within the British tradition of Early Childhood Education. Within this tradition, partnerships with carers and families are often cited as the cornerstone of good practice. Many settings strive to develop continuities between home and school learning and find innovative ways of working with parents who may not yet speak English. Others struggle when faced with different languages or home cultures, and lower their expectations of minority ethnic children, and accept discontinuities as an unfortunate but unavoidable aspect of schooling today.

 

Moreover, still within the British tradition, in the every day life of the setting practitioners’ observations of what a child knows and can do already are understood as being the best starting point for considering what to do next and how to ensure that all children are learning. Therefore, early emergent bilingual children need continued and meaningful opportunities to talk about their learning in their home languages; otherwise there is a real danger that for many children this approach of building on prior learning will become a tokenistic gesture which for them denies equality of opportunity.

 

Supporting the learning of English

A number or research studies have demonstrated how the continued use of home languages in school speeds the process of learning the school language ( see Key Summary of Thomas and Collier, 2002). This is a powerful, winning argument. The more practitioners provide opportunities for bilingual children to use their home languages in the early years setting, the easier it is for them to learn English. If we are, therefore, committed to supporting young children to learn in the most effective ways and to achieve the highest possible results in English, we should provide varied and continued opportunities for using home languages across the early years phase and into primary and secondary schools. Being able to discuss new concepts in mother tongue, and relating previously learnt concepts to new English words and terms, helps all children to learn, and it is this conceptual learning in its broadest sense that has a positive (knock on) effect on learning English, too.

 

Identity

The use of home languages also supports the development and maintenance of a strong sense of identity. The new Early Years Foundation Stage presents 4 themes, of which ‘Unique Child’ is the first, and it acknowledges that each child ‘is a competent learner from birth, who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured’(DfES, 2007). Practitioners have a responsibility in ensuring that young children do not lose their resilience and confidence. "

 

There's a lot more in the website.

Cx

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What would we say if a parent came in saying I don't want them using English only spanish. Would that parent be correct just because they wanted it to be like that??

Absolutely, catma - that's what I meant about needing to explain to parents about how we do things and why. I absolutely believe that parents are their child's first and most enduring educators. However some parents don't have access to the research which underpins our work and therefore we do have a duty to explain the importance of learning English alongside their first language and not as a substitute for it.

 

As with most issues its about getting the balance right isn't it: helping them see how our work is promoting their child's learning and development without negating their own role as parents.

 

Maz

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