126. My first question is should you encourage a child to speak their first learned language even if they seem hesitant at first?  I teach a kindergarten class and at our grade level we have a child that lives in a household where one parent speaks English quite fluently and the other parent only speaks Spanish. The child can speak Spanish, but will not speak it around the other children at school. The other children are not teasing him about speaking Spanish, in fact they want to learn it. I have taught the children in my class to count to ten in Spanish and they are currently learning the alphabet in Spanish, and we read a few books in Spanish. I want to show the child that we are interested in and value him as well as his heritage/culture. I even speak a little bit of Spanish to the child, but he just smiles at me and does not respond. My question is how do you encourage a child to speak their native language and how do I go about helping him to not seem ashamed of his bilingual abilities?  At what point should you stop encouraging the child to use their first learned language?

YES!!!! A child can BEST express (h)im/erself through the language (s)he knows best. If a child needs to say something and does NOT know how to say (h)is/er message through any other language except the native language, please, encourage that child to express (h)is/er thoughts through the native language. If the student hesitates, reassure the student about the correctness of using the native language within the classroom setting. If you or someone else can understand what the child may need to say, please, urge the child to express (h)is/er message through the native language. There is nothing wrong or illegal about the use of the primary language by students, parents, or teachers within the classroom or school, especially if it is needed to insure understanding of the academic concepts within the lesson.

You seem to be doing the right things -- you are trying to include ALL your students in the learning situation and to teach ALL your students.

The child may be surprised to find other Spanish speakers, or others interested in (h)is/er language. Continue to involve ALL children in language learning --in learning English and in learning Spanish or any other languages that may be represented in your class. ALL children will benefit from learning languages, especially at an early age. You may wish to try showing short funny films -- possibly animations-- that are presented in Spanish so that ALL the children see that lots of people speak Spanish, not just the child's mom, or dad, or teacher, or just ONLY one person. Songs may be very helpful, songs with actions. There are wonderful children's songs in Spanish to be performed in a circle by ALL students. Probably the child's mom knows them. Be sure to ask her!!!!

Why would you want to do that? Why would you try to erase the linguistic assets that a child may bring to school? Legally, a child, a parent, or a guardian may not be compelled to talk in another language: the native language is accepted as the means to communicate and exchange ideas between the school and the home. English mastery is the goal. Erasing a language from the mind of a student is NOT a goal. Thus, you need to ENCOURAGE English mastery. Praise it, promote it, sing it, recite it!!! By speaking and reading and writing English mastery will be encouraged.




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Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
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