Through simple greetings such as Czesc (pronounced t-ch-esh-t), the teacher can show that they are positive towards the child’s language and they are encouraging its use in the classroom. This is a simple step, but it is important that the children feel that they can use their own language freely.
Using a dual language book can serve both as a way to increase the English language learner’s understanding of English, and also as a way to teach new Polish words to the rest of the class.
Here are some ideas to try out, based on the Farmer Duck book:
– greet the class in English, Polish and Irish
– ask what the word for farmer and duck is in polish and invite the children to write the words on a flipchart
– ask the Polish speakers to teach the whole class some Polish words related to the story
– find words that rhyme in each language
– invite a parent who speak Polish who can help to identify more difficult words
Children are a wonderful resource for teaching/learning a new language, but parents can also contribute to multilingual activities. Collaboration with parents is essential to find out translations, stories, traditions and information about the children’s heritage and culture. Involving parents makes them feel valued and it shows that their culture is valued by the school community.
As teachers we need to be cautious of what our classroom represents and what languages and cultures are being prioritised. If you notice your classroom is lacking cultural and linguistic variety, try adding books written in different languages to the library or listening to music from different cultures and in different languages in your music classes.
Remember that you can apply these ideas to one additional language or many different ones! We are a multilingual society, and it is important for children to make the most of it!