At the International School of the Hague, we believe it is important to support all our students in fully accessing the curriculum to develop their thinking and languages to high academic levels.
The bicycle metaphor (Cummins, 2001), which illustrates bilingual learning, is a good reminder that our school’s goal is to turn out children with strong home and additional languages. To accomplish this aim, we need to give all of our children, not just English beginners, every opportunity to develop their home languages alongside their English. This can be done this by adopting regular ‘translanguaging’ practices in both the classroom and at home.
So what is Translanguaging?
Translanguaging involves allowing students to flexibly use their languages for a communicative (Garcia, 2009) or academic purpose. It supports the connection between previous life experiences and learning and taps into their prior knowledge. Use of translanguaging and home/identity languages allows students to develop all of their languages, creating a strong language foundation for life.
A very insightful video from language expert Eowyn Crisfield, which shows how translanguaging works practically in a classroom.
Translanguaging is all about making connections between languages, the way our brains naturally like to work. In having languages side-by-side in the classroom, knowledge, skills and understanding learned in one language can be transferred to another, where new word labels in English or Dutch can be simply be added. Translanguaging can be activated in a classroom when children are asked to compare how their home language works versus the new language they are learning: English or Dutch.
Below are some examples of translanguaging in action at the ISH
Translanguaging grammar: adjective placement
Translanguaging Writing: Hebrew into English Writing Workshop drafts
Why do we encourage translanguaging at ISH?
We encourage all our children to use their full linguistic repertoire, flexibly throughout the curriculum, to maximise their learning potential, engagement and language development. Learning is never put on hold while your child is learning a new language at ISH. They learn through their strongest language and use this strong foundation to develop their additional languages alongside!
- encourages children to actively think about their home language use
- doesn’t always have to be teacher driven: students can decide when they need to tap into their languages to make sense of their learning.
- is a flexible learning tool that enables children to access and complete mainstream curriculum tasks, no matter what their English level is
- helps our students build up academic language, also known as ‘school language’ in all of their languages
At the International School of The Hague, staff, parents and students value languages and their subsequent development in our classrooms. From listening closely to our international families and children, we have learned that identity and languages are closely intertwined. If a language links to a lived experience and makes up an important part of who a person is, it should be given the chance to grow alongside more traditionally accepted languages like home languages. Ultimately, throughout this learning journey it has been, and remains, our continuing aim to provide all our children with the opportunity to develop their full linguistic repertoire at ISH, whether they have home, additional, or identity languages – or all of the above. All languages matter equally at the ISH, as a result of this you will find them on our walls throughout the school, reflecting the learning of our students!
In order to understand each child’s linguistic profile we have developed our own ISH Language Portfolio tool inspired by Roma Chumak-Horbatsch (2012). This has proven to be very useful throughout the years in unraveling the complexities children navigate in their daily lives, through their many languages. In adapted versions for younger and older primary children, the language portfolio is used throughout the whole school so ISH teachers can identify and support the languages your child identifies with and uses regularly. Affirming your children’s identity (Cummins, 2001) and continuing their language development remain core principles behind all of ISH’s language programming.
The IPC Padlet resource
This resource will enable you to support your child at home in developing their academic language for each IPC unit, in all of their languages. We need parents to be active Language Partners in order to support our students. It is also the perfect opportunity to support your child with home learning tasks.
Visit the Padlet and add some words together in the Language Sheet in the ‘For Home’ section. Please scan the code below and find the IPC unit your child is working on.