Parent Support of Language Development

A parent’s participation in their child’s education is directly connected to a student’s academic and emotional development. We have found that our most successful immersion students are the ones whose parents provide consistent support for their child’s language acquisition and education.  This support can take many forms.  It can be as simple as being your child’s cheering section for when school is challenging to helping your child with their primary home language development.  Instilling a value of respect for a multilingual and multicultural world helps the students to see the purpose in their studies of a second language. Studies show and we have seen that students who are given a reason to use their Spanish are more likely to take risks and speak in Spanish. We count on parents to play a strong role in helping to nourish their child’s language development by using simple Spanish phrases in the home, watching a TV show in Spanish or finding other creative ways to use Spanish outside of the classroom. There are many ways for parents to support their child’s education. Immersion students who are eager and invested in their language development (or any part of their schooling) will perform better and develop a love of learning.

Supporting your child’s primary home language is also an important component to your child’s success in their second language. It is very important that students be encouraged to continue their native language development. When parents ask about the best ways they can help their child at home, we reply that the child should have the opportunity to read extensively in her own language. We suggest that parents make some time every evening to discuss with their child, in their native language, what she has done in school that day: ask her to talk about the science experiment she did, question her about her understanding of primary and secondary sources of historical information, have her explain how she has solved a math problem, etc.

As one of the world’s leading experts on bilingual education and second language acquisition Cummins states: “Conceptual knowledge developed in one language helps to make input in the other language comprehensible.” If a child already understands the concepts of “justice” or “honesty” in her own language, all she has to do is acquire the label for these terms in English. She has a far more difficult task, however, if she has to acquire both the label and the concept in her second language.”