Language Friendly School Webinar #3: The Role of Parents

Within the Language Friendly School, parents play an important role. Schools design their Language Friendly Schoolplan with the full participation of parents. Parental involvement is essential for a child’s school success. When teachers do not speak the same language as parents and when school books are in a language which the parents do not understand, this can have serious implications for the learning process of multilingual children. It’s important therefore that both parents and teachers find ways of supporting each other. On Thursday 7th May the Rutu Foundation organised a webinar on the role of parents and teachers in supporting multilingual children.

How parents and teachers can support multilingual children

How can parents work together with teachers to provide the best outcome for multilingual children? And what can teachers and school administrators do to make schools more welcome and inclusive for parents of all linguistic and ethnic backgrounds?

During this webinar, the third in the Language Friendly School series, we invited Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold and Rita Rosenback to share their insights about how parents can shape their role in supporting all the languages of their children.

Ute’s approach, who is a Multilingual Language Consultant, is valuable not only for parents, but also for teachers and other language professionals involved in the education of children. She supports international families who raise their children with multiple languages and helps them find the most suitable strategies to maintain their home languages whilst acquiring and learning others. Parents need to acknowledge their role in the language strategies in their family. This also involves the collaboration between parents and teachers to provide a structure in which the multilingual child can develop optimally. The transfer of skills from home languages to school languages and vice versa (e.g. home literacy activities) is an important part of this approach.

The European funded project PEaCH for bilingual children, presented by Rita Rosenback, is aimed at preserving and promoting Europe’s cultural and linguistic heritage through empowerment of bilingual children and families. The project will result in a handbook on bilingual parenting as well as online resources for parents and teachers of bilingual children.

Everything starts with a plan

One of the take-aways from the webinar is that succesful multilingualism – with children being able to manage their multiple languages in accordance with their needs – can only be achieved with good planning.

  • Parents of multilingual children need a plan based on ACT: Acknowledgement, Collaboration and Transfer. In the context of family language strategies it is important for parents to acknowledge their role in supporting their children’s languages. Collaboration with school and teachers is a next step in determining the approach to maintaining and developing home and school languages. Transfer involves home literacy to make the connection between school and home.
  • Teachers need a plan as well. Each multilingual student has different needs and it is important to find out what those needs are. Ideally, this should be done in cooperation with the parents.
  • Finally, schools also need a plan. A Language Friendly School-plan is a language plan involving all members of the school: students, teachers and staff. It is a plan that is adapted to the school’s own needs and aims at creating an inclusive and language friendly learning environment for all students. .

Language Friendly School webinars

This is the third webinar of our Language Friendly School webinar series. Information about  our previous webinars can be found here.

The slides can be downloaded here: LFS Webinar no.3 – 7 May 2020.

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