In this article, published in the American journal Childhood Education Innovations (2022), educators and administrators from several Language Friendly Schools were interviewed and shared their perspectives and experiences since becoming a Language Friendly School.
The Language Friendly School-approach provides socio-emotional as well as cognitive benefits to their students. First of all, it enriches students’ school experiences as differences between children are not perceived as challenges but as opportunities. In addition, it enhances students’ sense of identity and belonging because they feel accepted with their cultural and linguistic background. Furthermore, it allows for a more informed diagnostic of students’ academic competencies and promotes their critical thinking and metacognitive awareness.
All interviewed schools underlined the increased engagement of both students and parents:
“So, when they come in, I think them seeing their language and knowing how much their language is just part of the fabric of the school has certainly helped their engagement. Which, in turn, helps their overall behavior. So, there’s no behavior issues in this school that you might see in other places where students who aren’t engaged don’t care about the school, don’t feel a part of it.” – Principal of Silver Creek School, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
But also for teachers:
“For teachers, it’s kind of the same thing, I think. . . . We have many teachers from all over the world and for them there is also a bit of identity and language and that they can share that with the children. And bring a bit of ‘home’ into the school.” – Krista Sijbers, principal, SALTO International School RISE, location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
(2022) The Language Friendly School: An Inclusive and Equitable Pedagogy, Childhood Education, 98:1, 42-49,