Multilingual Children: Translanguaging for Parents

Picture of Divna Stakic
Divna Stakic

International School of Belgrade

Translanguaging is a teaching and learning approach that encourages bilingual and multilingual learners to use their entire linguistic repertoire to make meaning. It enables the transfer of concepts and knowledge from their home language into the language of instruction, whilst affirming cultural identity.

In an international school, where the language of instruction is English, translanguaging goes beyond traditional language boundaries where only one language is being spoken (English-only), encouraging students to use all languages they know to enhance their learning. This approach is particularly relevant at IS Belgrade, where students from various linguistic backgrounds come together in a shared learning environment.

As parents, understanding the importance of translanguaging can provide valuable insights into your child’s educational journey and contribute to creating a supportive home environment that will support their emotional, cognitive and academic growth.

Tips for Translanguaging at Home:

  • ●  Create a multilingual home environment: Create a language-rich environment at home. Speak the mother tongue regularly, read books, watch movies, and listen to music in that language. Be proud of all the languages spoken at home.

  • ●  Celebrate cultural holidays: Learn traditional songs, cook traditional dishes, and discuss the cultural significance of these events.This not only supports your child’s language development, but also reinforces the idea that all languages are equally valued.

  • ●  Encourage code-switching: Code-switching, or moving between languages, is a natural part of translanguaging. Encourage your child to use different languages when expressing complex thoughts or emotions. Engage in language-based games that encourage the use of multiple languages. This could include word games, language puzzles, creating a multilingual family dictionary together, etc.

  • ●  Connect with other parents: Reach out to other parents who speak the same language. Arrange playdates or social gatherings where children can interact in their mother tongue.

  • ●  Engage in conversations: Talk with your child about their language preferences. Understand which language they feel most comfortable using in different

contexts, whether it is for discussing daily events, storytelling, academic discussions, or personal reflections. Talk about how different languages serve different purposes and how code-switching can be a valuable skill.

● Always stay supportive and patient: Understand that language development is a gradual process. Be patient, and avoid pressuring your child to speak a particular language. Create a supportive and encouraging environment where children feel comfortable using all the languages they know.

Therefore, in a world that values diversity, embracing translanguaging is not just an educational strategy. It is a mindset that can enrich your child’s language skills and cultural awareness. Enjoy the journey of raising multilingual minds, and prepare them for the future where multilingualism and appreciating different cultures is priceless.

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