Education and Support for Multilingual Children
“Practitioners need the empathy, understanding and skills to help children achieve a positive sense of themselves and of others. Our role: to protect and value all children in the setting, foster empathy and provide accurate information about difference to enable children to think critically about and challenge bias.”
Migration in the world means that children grow up in multilingual communities and families. Bilingualism is common for a multicultural family, and it refers to children that speak in two languages at home from birth or by parents’ migration to other countries and children’s learning of language in a new environment.
Adults play a very important role in children’s lives, as they are the ones who children look up to and from whom they take an example. Children look up to adults, they hear what adults say and see how they act towards certain values and cultural differences present in Ireland, therefore learning from them and shaping their own opinion based on that. In order to help children discover their own opinion about various ethnic groups etc, they have to face different cases of prejudice and discrimination themselves. Thanks to this, relations between childcare workers and children will be more comfortable as they will be able to help children achieve their potential.
“The Majority of the Gaeltacht population are bilingual. While the Irish language may be the dominant language used by the majority within the Gaeltacht area, Irish language speakers in general may be considered a minority grouping within the national context.”
Importance of Home Language
“Bilingualism is an asset, and the first language has a continuing and significant role in identity, learning and the acquisition of additional languages.”
Child’s first language is very important because it’s most likely the dominant language at home where children communicate with the closest relatives and where they grow up. By knowing their home language, children will have more positive relations with other family members, and so will be more confident when learning another language, as they will feel that they are being supported.
Encouragement from childcare worker’s side can have a positive effect on the child and can help find out essential information about child’s capability in their own home language which will also provide information about the child’s learning needs. Trying to learn few words or phrases in child’s home language can be very helpful as it will show respect and interest towards the child which should encourage them to work on their other language. Also, if a childcare worker has one same home language as the child, he/she should be made aware as soon as possible that they are learning more than one language and that they have different names, children should be able to distinguish one from another. This is important as part of child’s identity and awareness.
Co-operating with Parents
“[Book reading] is an activity that is viewed in many cultures as appropriate for both mothers and fathers to engage in, and it is an excellent way of introducing children to aspects of culture that they may not see in their local environment.
Childcare workers have to be aware of certain things when working with children. Some of them may come from families of minor groups such as immigrants, and so the family may fear that they will not be treated fairly when using childcare services. They may also fear that the child will lose interest and knowledge about their home culture and language. Practitioners should talk to the parents and point that they are aware of the importance of home language, and that bilingualism is a great advantage for their child. Parents should be assured that they have childcare facilities support. If parents feel strong about their traditions and culture, they should also be assured that learning English will not replace their...
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