As I’ve learned in the multilingualism previous subject, and reinforced in this culture module, we can foster respect to other cultures and languages, as well as provide a chance to all our students to be and feel part of the class-group, by creating a multilingual environment. How can we do so? I’ve found some interesting ways and strategies, super simple and easy to implement in class, that will make the education a bit more multicultural.
General basic things to do in class:
- Have bilingual students teach their classmates a greeting in their home language, practicing over several days until the class is able to use these multilingual greetings when entering the classroom.
- If you use music during instruction (to transition from one activity to another, during a morning routine, to connect to a content topic, at the end of the day, etc.) you can incorporate songs that have multilingual versions. You can also substitute some of your English songs with home language songs that aren’t translated in English. Have your bilingual students help the class learn the home language version of whatever songs you choose. See this video song as an example:
- Think about the signals you use with students to transition between activities. Do you use some sort of verbal signal? If so, talk with your bilingual students to see if they can help you say something similar in their home language, or use Google Translate.
- Many classrooms give names to each table or group. These names can be multilingual, and bilingual students can be a part of the process of teaching their classmates how to say the table name in their home language. This is a good community building activity at the beginning of the year.
- Many teachers display charts outlining class rules, or explaining step-by-step routines. You can easily translate these by typing the text into Google Translate, and copying the translation into a document. Enlarge the text, print it out, and you can post the home language translation along with the English.
- You can label things in theclassroom in English as well as yourstudents’ home languages. Write each language in a different color to help distinguish them. If your bilingual students are literate in their home language, they can help writing the translation on the labels.
I like to organize my classes into small groups very often, to work in a collaborative way, so students can develop strategies to help each other and reach higher cognitive thinking thanks to their classmates’ help. But, when considering translanguaging in class, I believe this type of collaborative work will also help to provide support to bilingual students. I’ve read about some ways we can take collaborative structures, that probably we all already use, and purposefully incorporate both languages in the group work.
Discussion, reflecting and sharing activities:
- Discuss, reflect and negotiate content: When partners or groups are working together, let them know they can speak in English and/or their home language during the task you’ve given them. You can also use this strategy during “Turn and Talk” or “Think/Pair/Share” discussions.
- Share out: If you want the partners or groups to share out with the class in a specific language, such as English, then they can collaboratively discuss how they would express in English the ideas they shared in the home language.
Brainstorming and writing activities:
- Brainstorm: When you give partners or groups a task that involves creating a written product, encourage them to speak in English and/or the home language to brainstorm ideas. If you have created a collaborative group with some students who don’t speak the home language, then when an EBL shares something in the home language, a partner with greater English proficiency can translate for the group.
- Write: Students then take those ideas and collaboratively discuss how they would express in English the ideas they shared in the home language. They collaboratively produce a written product in English for the task.
Making students aware of how syntax in English is both similar to and different from the syntax in their home language makes this important aspect of language use more transparent. Instead of merely teaching students the “rules” of English syntax, you are drawing on their knowledge of their home language syntax in order to make connections, transfer understandings, and spot important differences.
I.e. Both spanish and English have the same basic structure of a sentence: Subject, Verb, Object:
Me gustan mis amigos I like my friends
S + V + C S + V + C
After all the research and reflections done, I am sure I will adopt some strategies and techniques from translanguaging. I’ve understood sometimes is necessary to use other languages in class, not only because there are different L1 in the same class, which will be a multicultural environment, but also with classes where students share their L1. The main reason I really found interesting is that if we let our students use all their entire linguistic repertoire, students will perform a better job and, therefore achieve and accomplish higher cognitive and linguistic demanding objectives. At the end, we will have students willing to participate to our classes and being creative to do so.