Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Challenges Facing Dual Language Learners

In my community, there is a growing population of immigrants from India.  Often, parents enroll their children in preschool with minimal to no understanding of the English language.  This can be challenging and even scary for young children to be dropped off in an entirely new environment, one in which they do not understand the communications spoken by the caregivers or other children around them.  Children who are dual language learners—especially those that experience a divide between the home language and school language—can develop a delay in their acquisition of language, as these children are taking in twice the amount of language input and vocabulary as single language learners. 

Some of the Indian parents in my community may have a working understanding of the English language, but rarely have fluency themselves.  I find that many of the families live in small communities made up of other Indian families and English is usually not spoken at home or within their neighborhood.  Among the families that I interact with, there seems to be little apparent interest of the mothers in learning English, as they are non-working and rely on the father to speak with the school.  This can hinder vital communications between school and home. 

I am curious as to how schools can improve communications between home and school and how they can increase parent participation.  I would also like to learn how schools can better provide for the dual language students’ developing language skills and emotional security.