Growing up in Slough, a very culturally diverse area, my children were very fortunate to hear many different languages being spoken around them. At my daughter’s nursery somewhere around 30 different languages were spoken by the staff and the children! Many children are much less exposed to different languages and hearing someone speak a language that is not English may come as a surprise or even frighten them.
The idea that it is possible to actually ‘learn’ a few words of a foreign language is in itself a new concept for many children. Young children need to learn that other people may use different words to mean the same object. Who do they know who speaks a foreign language?
Rather than trying to teach your children how to say ‘hello’ in ten different languages, I think it is more useful to teach them a little bit of one foreign language. It gives them the idea that a foreign language is something you can learn, and if you’re lucky, may occasionally hear spoken around you. In my Diversity Awareness Pack, I chose French because it is still normally the first language that children are taught in schools.
If you are looking after a bilingual child, then it is nice for you and the children to learn a few words in the child’s home language.
Products that can help you to explore bilingual children
Childminding Best Practice Club – themed packs
Join the Childminding Best Practice Club and get monthly packs of themed activities emailed to you. As well as art projects with templates, each pack includes a planning guide to help you plan around a theme.
Diversity Awareness Pack
Printable diversity craft projects and printable diversity colouring pages to help childminders to teach 20 diversity topics including disability, religion, race, families and multicultural holidays. The pack includes a section about a bilingual girl who speaks French at home and English at school and gives you activities you can use or adapt to whatever foreign languages the children you look after speak.
See also: Posters Pack for a printable Welcome Poster in many languages. You can customise the poster before you print it using the languages of the children you look after.