“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
– Nelson Mandela
English is the language of instruction at TIS and we have a large ELL population with varying levels of proficiency. ELL stands for English Language Learners and usually refers to non-native speakers of English.
Many of our students arrive at school with more than one language (bilingual or multilingual). We believe that every child has the right to have their home language(s) embraced, valued and supported at school. We usually refer to students’ home language(s) as “Mother Tongue” (MT) or Language 1 (L1).
“Research shows clearly the value of MT/L1 sustainability and its benefits to the academic, cognitive, linguistic and social growth of the children. No matter how minor their language, or the status of the language in the community, these languages represent an integral part of a child, and must not be side-lined, neglected or stamped out.” (Crisfield Educational Consulting for Mother Tongue Education)
Parents need to appreciate that language is as much about communication as it is about identity (Baker, 2007), that language is fragile and easily lost (Cummins, 2001) and that to continue to support and teach a child’s mother tongue actually provides a better platform for developing a second or third language.
How can parents help?
- We encourage you to use the mother tongue extensively in your homes, the community, and other outside school experiences.
- Provide opportunities for conversations that entail rich language use in the mother tongue.
- When you have more than one language spoken in your house, it is important to have a Family Language Plan in place and to remain consistent with a chosen Family Language Plan.
- Last but not least, please consider signing up your child to our Mother Tongue after school activity (ASA) on Thursday afternoons. We have the following languages running for Trimester 1:
Uzbek, Russian, Korean, Polish, Chinese
We hope to offer more languages to support MT throughout the year, and parents could volunteer to supervise a Mother Tongue ASA if you are passionate about teaching languages. We hope for your collaboration in supporting multilingualism at TIS.