The IB and Victorian Education Department acknowledges that the development of the home and family language is crucial for both cognitive development and maintaining cultural identity.
The EAL curriculum provides opportunities for students to draw on their knowledge of the language/s spoken at home as a way to enhance their developing understanding of the English language. The inclusion of plurilingual awareness in the curriculum acknowledges the value of competence in multiple languages. A student who develops plurilingual awareness is able to integrate their knowledge of multiple languages in a way that enriches their communication and learning in all languages. This inclusion in the curriculum validates the importance of language and the role it plays in an individual’s sense of self and identity. (VCAA EAL Curriculum Rationale 2019)
Research shows that children who have a strong foundation in their home language are more successful at school and enjoy a greater feeling of self-worth and identity. (UNESCO)
“Children who come to school with a strong foundation in their mother tongue develop stronger literacy abilities in the language used at school. When parents or caregivers are able to spend time with their children and tell stories or discuss issues with them in a way that develops their mother tongue vocabulary and concepts, children come to school well prepared to learn the language of their immigrant country and succeed educationally.” Jim Cummins, Author of Bilingual Children's Mother Tongue Why Is It Important for Education?
You are your child’s first and most important educator and children strongly benefit being able to speak, read and write the home language of their parents or main carer: it is important for their sense of identity and belonging, and it will help them to succeed at school.
Beginning to learn English after learning their first language can take time, but your child will not be disadvantaged if they do not speak English at home.
You are encouraged to speak, read and write with your child as much as you can by:
By speaking, reading and writing with your child in your home language, you are helping them to become multilingual, which has many benefits:
It is crucial to keep speaking, reading and writing with your child in your home language. It will put your child on-track to be proficient in two languages, and ready to seize the world of opportunities that this brings.
Resources to assist in maintenance of your child’s home language:
Bloom Library - free books in multiple language
International Children’s Digital Library – books available in a range of languages
Victorian Department of Education Find a language program | Victorian Government (www.vic.gov.au)