Empowering Futures: Nurturing Home Languages for Multilingual Success

Empowering Futures: Nurturing Home Languages for Multilingual Success
languages translanguaging multilingual

The recent Parent Empowerment Workshop, entitled "Empowering Futures: Nurturing Home Languages for Multilingual Success," was met with great enthusiasm as parents were warmly welcomed to participate. The workshop coincided with 'Mother Tongue Day' at the Primary Campus and the International Day celebrations at the Secondary Campus, thereby enhancing the school's recognition and celebration of its linguistic and cultural diversity.

This workshop was facilitated by members of staff from both the EAL (English as an Additional Language) departments and the Languages departments across both campuses and marked a significant milestone for the school. Notably, it introduced the pioneering use of the Microsoft Translator Live app to facilitate communication.

This innovative application allowed participants to engage in discussions using their preferred language, thereby dismantling communication barriers commonly encountered by multilingual speakers. Such an approach signifies a concerted effort to foster inclusivity and accessibility within the workshop setting, reflecting the school's commitment to supporting diverse linguistic backgrounds.      

The room buzzed with excitement as the Microsoft Translator Live app brought conversations to life in a plethora of languages, ranging from German and Mandarin to Korean, Russian, Japanese, and more.

Participants explored some eye-opening statistics about global languages. Here at Alice Smith, we're a melting pot of diversity, representing 41 of these languages. Over 50% of our families converse in various Chinese dialects, highlighting the rich linguistic mix in our community.

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During the workshop, parents engaged in discussions about the myths and realities surrounding multilingualism, exchanging personal anecdotes about their own journeys in raising multilingual children. The topic of Family Language Planning (FLP) was thoroughly explored, offering valuable insights into establishing and maintaining a supportive FLP. Attendees received practical advice on managing a family language plan effectively, along with considerations for raising bilingual children that extend beyond language proficiency alone.

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Louise King and Ray Jennings, Head of the EAL departments from both campuses, expressed their enthusiasm in sharing the school's journey over the past 12 months in enhancing awareness and support for multilingual learners.

The adoption of 'Translanguaging' has played a pivotal role at both campuses, facilitating language acquisition and fostering a sense of belonging among students. 'Translanguaging' promotes the utilisation of a learners' entire linguistic repertoire, encouraging them to engage with all languages at their disposal. Parents warmly received videos showcasing 'Translanguaging' in action, spanning from Preschool to Year 10, providing valuable insight into its effectiveness in supporting students' language development across various stages of education.

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In addition to developing a FLP at home and the use of Translanguaging in school, parents were also encouraged to continue to help their children develop their home language through involvement in the school’s Home Languages Programme. 

Joanna Asse Drouet (Head of Languages, Primary) and Lorene Carver (Head of Languages, Secondary) enthusiastically introduced the Home Languages Programme in its current form, sharing the wonderful experiences that learners are gaining from their involvement in the Home Languages sessions. Students are connecting with their heritage languages and cultures and are making new friends speaking their home language across the community. They feel respected and empowered, which fosters a sense of belonging and inclusivity as a result. 

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By valuing and promoting Home Languages, our school strengthens its sense of community and embraces diversity. Our Home Languages programme allows us to build stronger relationships with our families and to enrich their overall experience at Alice Smith.

Joanna and Lorene also explained how they would like to expand and develop their initiative further: by involving parents and by leveraging our community’s diverse skills and talent. They are actively looking for parent volunteers who would be willing to share their time and expertise and join the Home Languages team. 

Their ultimate goal? To open and run Home Language Clubs for a wide range of languages from next academic year onwards!  

If you are interested in volunteering, please join the Home Languages Team for a Coffee morning at the Primary Campus on Tuesday 12th March at 8:00am. They will explain how the Term 3 training for parent volunteers will ensure that they are equipped to facilitate meaningful language learning experiences for our Home Languages students.

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