There are many areas in the school that deal with this very important topic and our teachers have experiance and education in working with bi-lingual children: circle time, show and tell, story/discussion time, singing, etc. go hand in hand with confidence, happiness and a sense of ones self. Thus helping language to grow, only positive reinforcement, not correction, is used by our teachers.
We aim to support the first language or languages of the children, being careful not to put pressure on them to speak English. A parents as partner letter is given out to parents every month which outlines the topics and target words being used in the center at that time. We would respecctfully ask parents to reinforce the topic and words in the childs primary language.
A child’s language development is important and a second or third language being introduced can only be done successfully if a child mother/ first language is allowed to develop side by side with the second or third language. However there is now evidence that language aquisition is more fluid than first thought and can change with time and place. We assess childrens languge development regularily and any concerns will be dicussed with the parents as part of our ongoing assesment process.
Language is not only about speaking, it is also about the children themselves; their culture, their family life and where they are from, language gives a sense of identity and belonging. We are an English speaking school and we use English in most of what we do with the children and we hope that the children want to communicate with us because they like us and are interested in what we have to say. We try to bring English alive for the children by talking, showing and sharing other cultures that speak English i.e. Australia, New Zealand, America, as well as countries that use other languages. We also show we respect the childs home language and recognise we are in Finland where the main language is Finnish.
The fact that so many of our children come from families with two or three languages makes it very important that this is seen as a positive thing, including the cultural differences and maybe physical as well. The common language for everyone in this school is English and the children learn it as they do every other aspect in the school, through active participation, freedom of choice and a joy of communicating with their peers and teachers.
Finnish/Swedish language development
Children whose parents are both Finnish/Swedish speaking and who attend our programme full time will be given Finnish culture sessions once a week. During these sessions they will speak Finnish/Swedish and explore Finnish culture and history through songs, music and dance, and art and craft. This is due to the growing concern over the language development of Finnish/Swedish speaking children, especially those that go on to an English speaking primary school to gain their full education in English.
The teachers will closely monitor each child language development and will discuss any concerns with the child parents. Parents will also take part in thier childrens language development, by speaking their childs primary languages, reinforcing the home language/s.
Adults representing other cultures in the school will be invited in to speak the child’s mother tongue and to bring cultural diversity into the school. Children get a sense of pride when someone comes into the school representing their language and culture, and this reinforces their sense of self identity and belonging. All of these elements go towards supporting both the mother tongue and the target language.