Bilingualism and Home Language Use
Impacts of Home-School Partnerships for ELLs
English Language Learners (ELLS) are the fastest growing diverse population in grades PreK-12, and they come from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds (Navarrete & Watson, 2013, p.2). Embracing this diversity enriches educational experiences because of the sociocultural aspects, the impacts of more than one language on language development, and the opportunities for home and school partnerships.
Acquiring a language out of necessity, other than their home language proposes a challenge due to the linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic differences. It is important to know about these differences because of the fact based research that shows ELLs coming from high-income households, or households with parental support will progress with more success than those who come from low-income households, or households with low parental support (Navarrete & Watson, 2013).
Teachers and Educational professionals will better know how to accommodate ELL learning and development if they know where to best accommodate the student. More often, creating a low anxiety environment for ELLs, where their home language is embraced and used to motivate students, and welcoming parents and families of ELLS for support and enrichment is crucial.
Sociocultural Impact, Strategies, Partnerships, and Leadership
- Sociocultural aspects for bilingual students in the classroom
While socioeconomic status (SES) and parental involvement come into play in the academic success of most all students, for ELLs, other sociocultural aspects to consider are:
- Cultural norms
- Family structure
- Language used at home
- Cultural impact of bilingualism and home language use
Levels of acculturation or parental adaptation to a new culture or language will impact the use of a second language within the home for a developing student (Gonzalez, 2001). Acculturation can interact with the stated sociocultural factors to increase or decrease success in language development for bilingual students because of limits to or expansions on allowing of alternative social practices. Culture can tend to outweigh ethnicity alone in the impact on bilingualism and home language.
- Dominance of which language is spoken
- Acceptance of second language in social settings and situations
- Importance of learning and using second language
- Parent-child interactions
- Strategies and resources for cultivating home and school partnerships
Since there are so many aspects and factors on successful academic outcomes for ELL students stemming from home and culture, it is very apparent that educators should enrich educational experiences with the help of parents and families, and find resources to enlighten and assist ELL families with regards to academics.
- Create classroom and school atmospheres welcoming of different cultures
- Provide bilingual and language translation services for students and parents whenever possible (oral, and documentation)
- Seek out, and volunteer for local and community events that celebrate different cultures in the surrounding area (festivals)
- Research community and online resources that educate professionals and families of students in culture, languages, and traditions important for the future academic and social success of students (http://cecp.air.org/cultural/Q_moreinfo.htm)
- Invite parents to the classroom often for communication, presentation of classroom goals, presentation of student work, and to offer parent volunteer opportunities
- Hold school events that showcase the different cultures in the community and in the world
- Allow parents to volunteer in school events and classroom events that showcase aspects of students’ cultures and backgrounds
- Strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of the home and school partnerships
“Initiatives that focus on building respectful and trusting relationships among school staff, families, and community members are more likely to be effective in creating sustained connections that support student learning (Allen, 2009, p. 4).” Educators can reflect on the effectiveness of policies, strategies, and resources for home and school partnerships, and be willing to make changes or improvements if needed.
Are the strategies:
- Bringing family involvement linked to greater student achievement?
- Bringing classroom learning between students and families into the home for improved achievement of classroom goals?
- Bringing positive influences from families of all cultural backgrounds, educational levels, and income levels on children’s learning (Allen, 2009)?
- Engaging diverse families who are increasingly enthusiastic about their involvement and participation levels in school events and academics?
- The role of leadership in cultivating a positive home and school partnership for ELL students
Creating a culture of success within the school community, important for ELL success and family engagement, is not the job of a single passionate ELL teacher or bilingual liaison, but all members of the community(administrators, staff, parents, and students) are needed to lead and engage families (Breiseth, 2011).
Administrators and Educators should (Breiseth, 2011):
- Learn and know about ELL families in the school and community through research, reflection, and strategies for finding information
- Integrate cultural traditions of ELL families throughout the school
- Create welcoming environments for families
- Show that you value families’ native languages
- Communicate important information
- Make the enrollment process manageable for ELL parents
- Provide opportunities for all student families to learn about important topics and skills
- Solicit Ideas
- Look for funding
Parents and Families can (Breiseth, 2011):
- Be encouraged to take on leadership roles
- Communicate and provide information that will make leadership more sustainable
In conclusion, bilingualism and home language are influenced by many factors, and will in turn impact learning and strategies for achievement. Bilingualism will enrich the classroom and school community environment if embraced, and the culture and family integration with school practices and policies will create an enhanced learning culture for all. When learning to communicate effectively and respectfully with individuals of varied backgrounds, we all may reach diverse populations and ELLs without prejiduces, stereotypes, and discriminatory behaviors and provide an academic experience that will make ELLs successful in school and in society (Navarrete & Watson, 2013).
Allen, J. (2009). Effective home-school communication. Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved from
Breiseth, L. (2011). A guide for engaging ELL families: Twenty strategies for school leaders. Colorin
Colorado. Retrieved from http://www.colorincolorado.org/pdfs/guides/Engaging-ELL-Families.pdf
Gonzalez, V. (2001). The role of socioeconomic and sociocultural factors in language-minority children’s
development. Academia.edu. Retrieved from
Navarrete, L., & Watson, S. (2013). The impact of language and socio-cultural factors on learning. CLD.
Presentation by Anna Hayes
June 1, 2015