Press Release | International Literacy Association
NEWARK, Del. (September 12, 2017) — In our increasingly globalized world, teachers and educators must be prepared to serve a linguistically diverse population of students and families. Although many immigrant and refugee families are quick to embrace the language of their new country, there are “compelling cognitive, cultural, linguistic, psychological, and social reasons” for families to maintain home languages, states the International Literacy Association (ILA) in a brief found here authored by Dr. Jim Anderson, Dr. Marianne McTavish and Dr. Ji-Eun Kim from the Department of Language and Literacy Education, in UBC’s Faculty of Education.
“When students gain a new language, it’s too often at the cost of their native language and important cultural, historical, and familial connections,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Without a strong home–school relationship, students and their families often feel disconnected and unsupported by the school system. Educators have a role in keeping those connections alive.”
According to ILA, children who possess well-established literacy strategies and skills in their native language experience a range of cognitive benefits and are better prepared to become literate in a second language. Bilingualism also enables children to communicate with their immediate and extended family members.
The brief states that children feel more comfortable in classrooms that support the practice of “codeswitching,” or alternating between two languages in the context of a single utterance or sentence. Through codeswitching, students grasp concepts and construct meaning in one language and then apply that learned knowledge to a second language. Research indicates that knowledge transfers across two languages.
By maintaining their native language, families can provide the best academic and emotional support possible for their children. Educators have a responsibility to help parents understand the importance of their role in their children’s literacy development.
A longer version of this brief can be found here.
As a worldwide advocate for excellence in literacy instruction, the International Literacy Association (ILA) actively participates in advancing thought leadership for the literacy profession and shaping sound public policy on education. Here you will find a collection of research-based position statements, white papers, research advisories, literacy leadership briefs, and reports reflecting ILA’s perspective on current topics and trends within the educational landscape.