THE BILINGUAL ADVANTAGE
Information for parents
DID YOU KNOW?
For English learners, continuing to speak their home languages helps them learn English!
LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT THE POWER OF BILINGUALISM
In the report Challenging Common Myths (K-3), by Linda M. Espinosa, Ph.D. explores what’s true – and false – about dual language learning children. It explains why continuing to support your child with home language conversation is important and actually helps them in their English-speaking school. https://www.fcd-us.org/assets/2016/04/Challenging-Common-Myths-Update.pdf
Understand How Easy It Is To Raise Bilingual Children
MomsRising.org provides a wide range of resources to help parents raising bilingual children.
Speak Your Language!
Developing your child’s home language is as easy as playing, reading, telling stories, doing daily errands, and talking to them in your native language in the household.
Our PARENT TOOLKIT (downloadable on this page) provides you with additional ideas and resources to help you develop home language with your children.
The research about bilingual brains and learning is ever expanding. You may find these websites helpful:
UW Institute of Brain Sciences:
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT BILINGUALISM
FOR FAMILIES OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Your high school student’s school may reward them for being bilingual:
World Language Credits: A student may earn up to four (4) high school credits for being proficient in another language. Most students have to earn this by studying a new foreign language at school, but if you speak your language, your child will be able to request an examination and earn four credits towards their high school diploma. These World Language Credits can help students meet the new 24 credit high school completion to graduate on time – and they are required for admission to four-year colleges in Washington.
World Language Credits are available for dozens of languages, so even if your home language is not commonly spoken or taught in the school, please ask your school to test your student!
The Seal of Biliteracy is an acknowledgment placed on the graduation diploma of a student who has demonstrated biliteracy, for example, through AP testing, IB testing, achievement of four (4) World Language Credits. This honor highlights the student’s proficiency in writing, reading, and speaking another language. If your student receives this honor, it will be recognized on their transcript and sometimes with a ceremony.
Ask your student’s teacher or guidance counselor about having your child test for World Language Credits! (More info below)
Let your school know that you are interested in having your child test for World Language Credits in your home language. Speak with their teacher or a guidance counselor at school to find out when testing takes place and how to register.
Important things to remember:
- World Language Credit testing is available, even if the language isn’t taught in school
- Your student may be eligible to get some credits, even if not all four, if they have some proficiency. Don’t worry if your student doesn’t speak/read/write perfectly – it is worth testing to find out if they can earn credits for what they do know.
- Some schools will help you with the cost of testing, if that is a concern.
If your school is not familiar with the World Language Credit option, reach out to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, OSPI , to learn more about how to bring access to this important opportunity to your school. Show them this website!
Thank you for considering becoming a Home Language Parent Ambassador!
As an ambassador, you will gain deep organizing and advocacy skills, and learn how to communicate core messages about the importance of home language development to other parents, educators, and state policy makers. Our Parent Ambassadors are key leaders who assist in creating more opportunity within our education system for home language development and bilingualism.
We train Home Language Parent Ambassadors in the latest research on early childhood education, brain development, and the importance of home language development and multilingualism in education. With this training, you will be able to give presentations and serve on task forces and committees as a home language ambassador. You will become an important force, helping to communicate the importance of home language development and bilingualism in our students to a variety of audiences, including teachers, principals, school district personnel, school board members, and state policy makers.
There are many ways you can help your community celebrate the power of bilingualism! Some ideas:
- Host a community event to talk about home language
- Speak with your children about the value of their bilingual skills, so they understand that being bilingual can help them with English and other classes at school
- Share stories. Consider coming to one of our public events to give a testimonial about how being bilingual has helped your child succeed.
Become a parent advocate! Our parent advocates work with us to inform communities about the importance of bilingualism, and they are key to the success of our work.
Every language is important, and your child’s bilingualism will improve their brain and assist with their education. Speaking your home language makes students proud of their culture and family, and allows them to communicate well with others. If we do not take care to protect home languages, we risk losing them completely.
Great question! Your child is not alone. Many children are shy about speaking their parents’ language. Keep encouraging your child to speak as best they can. This may mean being patient with mistakes they make. If a child makes mistakes with grammar or has a strong accent, they may become shy and resist speaking if they are embarrassed by it. At first, consider letting mistakes happen and once they feel more confident, work with them on perfecting it, always encouraging them.
Remember: your child does not need to speak the language fluently in order to receive some world credits. Even speaking and writing somewhat in the language may earn them credits toward graduation.
Some students do not know they can receive school credit toward graduation for speaking their parents’ language. Make sure your student knows and speaks with their teachers or guidance counselor about this great opportunity. If they know there is an academic reward for speaking their home language, they may be more excited to do so.
You will find a wealth of information on MomsRising.org about raising bilingual children, encouraging them to speak, and supporting their biliteracy. https://www.momsrising.org/blog/parents-share-why-bilingual-is-better-bilingualrisers
Yes! Your child does not need to speak your home language fluently in order for it to be helpful. The bilingual brain benefits exist for children who hear and understand two languages – perfectionism is not required!
For some parents, they feel their child should speak the home language perfectly or not at all. By letting your child get comfortable hearing and speaking it, they may take more interest in overcoming the grammatical mistakes. Again, if the child speaks some of the language, they may be able to get the many benefits of bilingualism.
Should your child become more fluent in the language, they may later test for World Language Credits, which count toward graduation. A student may receive some credits for partial knowledge, while other students will receive the full four (4) credits and a Seal of Biliteracy on their diploma.
No! In fact, speaking your home language will help your student! Bilingual students have superior skill sets that help them in the classroom. Studies show that students who maintain their home language (or “mother tongue”) more easily learn a second language– such as English. Research also shows bilingual students to be more creative and better at planning and problem solving than their monolingual classmates. Children will succeed in learning English whether or not English is the spoken language at home.