The benefits of nurturing a child’s native language
ultilingualism and multiculturalism are significant assets in our increasingly interconnected world, and open doors for careers, study and friendships. Extensive research around the world into the impor tance of native language maintenance and development has shown clear benefits to an individual’s emotional well-being, and that a strong native language suppor ts the acquisition of additional languages. Children who are able to maintain and develop their native language generally enjoy a significant advantage in school and throughout life. At International School Bangkok (ISB), our community is extremely multilingual and multicultural. Our students come from over 60 countries and many of our learners speak more than two languages fluently. Across the school, from Pre-K to Grade 12, there are more than 40 different languages spoken. We recognize the incredible value this brings to our learners, to their families, to their overall development, and to our entire community. ISB offers
numerous languages for both native and non-native speakers, many up to International Baccalaureate level.
It’s beyond vocabulary, grammar and textbooks
At ISB, we believe that language is at the heart of human communication, thinking, and feeling and that it is a marker of identity and culture, helping us to make sense of ourselves, our perspectives and our world. We believe that it is the right of our students to maintain their own language and be empowered to acquire other languages whenever possible. Independently and through par tners, ISB offers robust programs that focus on language and culture, and we work closely with parents to develop strategies to best nurture their child’s native language. “We have lived overseas now for more than 7 years, and we’ve always found it very important for our children to stay up to date with the Dutch language and culture,” ISB parents Roel and Emilie Huisman shared. “We’ve found the classes at ISB, through the Dutch Cultural Society, to be really great. Many of our Dutch friends have returned to The Netherlands from ISB, and their children have entered the Dutch system with no problems. One day, if we return to The Netherlands, we want to know that our children could do the same.”
Language learning happens best when learners:
• Understand the nature of learning and how it connects
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across and between languages • Understand the concept of their own culture and how it compares/contrasts to other cultures • Display cultural sensitivity to diverse perspectives • Actively dialogue with others through effective listening, questioning, and responding • Use metacognitive skills to monitor and direct the process and product in pursuit of a goal • Engage with high cognitive, authentic, language-rich learning experiences • Are exposed to engaging, challenging and culturally inclusive practice • Have oppor tunities to access their native language during their learning in other classes, as appropriate to the task at hand • Experience a strong home-school partnership
It takes a community
As with any program of study, ensuring that all the needs of the child are being met is the strategy for ensuring growth and success. Emotional and social support, alongside acceptance and a sense of belonging, form the foundation for this success. “We are so impressed that the school is so inclusive, and the families are really a part of the school. Also there are so many people that care about our kids from assistant teachers, teachers, specialist teachers, and coaches to counselors; and classes and groups are small. ISB does a great job with the counselors helping students to settle in, and the kids at the school are so used to people coming and going that they are all very welcoming.” ISB’s diverse community is not lost on the learners either. “I like ISB because everyone is from different countries,” shared Emilie and Roel’s Elementary aged son. A multilingual environment not only helps to nurture students and their language learning, but it also provides the setting for rich and powerful intercultural experiences. These experiences foster acceptance and understanding and help to develop one of ISB’s key aims for our students: global mindedness.
Start where you are
When families join ISB, their native languages are at varying proficiencies. Some come to Thailand directly from their home country, and their native language learning is balanced with English language learning. Some have been abroad for some time and are conversational with limited or no written proficiency. Some have acquired a non-native language in an immersion setting and exhibit proficiency in that language at a native level. Whatever the level at which students begin, we encourage families and provide support to nurture and develop the native language—because the benefits for all of us are overwhelming clear.
ScandAsia is a magazine dedicated to serve all the Scandinavian people from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in China, Hong Kong,...