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Celebrating Multilingualism for English Language Day

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Celebrating Multilingualism for English Language Day

In 2010, the Department of Global Communications at the UN established six language days, one for each of the organization’s six languages: French, Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic.

April 23rd marks both English Language Day and Spanish Language Day, and each of the other languages has its own day as well. French Language Day is March 20th, Chinese Language Day is April 20th, Russian Language Day is June 6th, and Arabic Language Day is December 18th.

The purpose of this initiative is to “celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity,” along with promoting equal use of all six languages within the UN.

According to the UN, multilingualism is “an essential factor in harmonious communication among peoples.” That idea is built into the foundation of Imagine Learning. We believe that all students are language learners, so we focus on helping them acquire, develop, and strengthen the language skills necessary to fully participate in academic settings—whether or not they are fluent in English.

“Imagine Learning sparked my passion for English. I know I want to change the world in some way, and the fact that I speak Spanish and English is going to help.”—Maria

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Celebrating and Supporting English Learners

According to the 2017 paper Mobile Technology Bridges the 30 Million Word Gap, “The ideal role for education is that it can serve as an equalizer and increase achievement for all students, regardless of race, income, class, and prior achievement.” And in less than four years, the NEA expects that one out of every four students in the US will be an English learner (EL).

This means that schools and educators must be set up to identify and build on the academic gains ELs have made in their native languages and support their English language acquisition. Additionally, celebrating multilingualism in your classroom creates opportunities to introduce students to different cultures and ways of doing things. And better yet, doing this can motivate ELs as they work on their English language acquisition.

“Imagine Learning helped me feel more confident reading.”—Marisol

Language acquisition enables students to have deeper comprehension, engagement, and enjoyment of learning in all subjects. And offering curriculum and resources that support English language acquisition and enable students to build on their existing academic abilities can help ELs make progress in all their coursework.

Another benefit? Students who are fluent in two or more languages have been shown to have better working memory and more creative and flexible use of strategies in both the learning process and other aspects of their lives.

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In celebrating multilingualism, educators are embracing and supporting the growth of these additional skills. And don’t forget the benefits students will see later in life as they continue their education and enter the job market.

“Imagine Learning helped me connect with English and helped me make friends.”—Juan

Helping students build confidence is part of teaching. And helping English learners build confidence in their English skills is important to their continued growth and development.

Teachers can do this by:

  • Acknowledging and discussing the first language of ELs with the whole class
  • Offering learning materials for ELs in their native languages
  • Providing engaging learning materials in English that are representative of students’ diverse backgrounds
  • Creating low-pressure opportunities for interaction between ELs and native speakers

Don’t forget—for some of these students, the main support they get in their English language acquisition comes from school.

And by helping today’s English learners and celebrating multilingualism, we are also helping tomorrow’s English learners—the Top Imagine Language & Literacy usage teacher this past February is herself an English learner, and she draws on her experiences to help her students.

“I didn’t speak English when I was little and now, I teach English. My experience helps me motivate them. I want [students] to be a success story because I consider myself a success story!”—Genoveva Zamarron

We love hearing how educators celebrate multilingualism by honoring home languages and cultures within the classroom. How do you empower and celebrate your English learners? Share with us at @ImagineLearning!

Read More: EL Students Share Their Stories

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