Bilingualism and Home Language Use

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Sociocultural Aspects for Bilingual Students in the Classroom are Affected by:

*Socioeconomic Status

  • Parent occupational status
  • Neighborhood quality and community resources
  • Family Structure
  • Beliefs
  • Value systems
  • Attitudes towards education
  • Acculturation levels
  • Language use at home
  • Communication behavior
  • Socialization goals
  • Experiences

*School Characteristics and Teacher Behaviors

  • Teacher attitudes
  • Teacher expectations
  • School values
  • School and classroom culture

*Judgement and Discrimination by Peers

Cultural Impact of Bilingualism and Home Language Use

*Family attitudes towards the second language impact the child’s motivation and determination to learn it

  • May not receive support at home with new language

*Students are negatively impacted when they cannot use their home language at school

*Students may struggle with cultural identity issues

*One’s culture and first language are the backbone of who they are

  • Teachers should embrace students’ culture and language and emphasize the value it brings to students learning a new language
  • Students should never feel pressure to lose their home language and culture; use it to benefit their learning experience

Strategies for Cultivating Home and School Partnerships

*Learn about the school community’s ELL population

  • What languages are spoken
  • What countries are the families from

*Create a welcoming environment for families within the school

  • Make the school a part of the community
  • School cultural activities

*Show that families’ native language and culture is valued by incorporating it into the school and classroom

  • Let the families “see” the importance on culture through school décor and student work

*Communicate with parents and provide various and multiple opportunities for them to

participate in and support their child’s education

  • Provide communication in native languages

*Provide workshops and training for both parents and teachers

*Develop relationships with community organizations and use community members as parent mentors

Resources for Cultivating Home and School Partnerships

Colorin Colorado, A guide for engaging ELL families: Twenty strategies for school leaders,

U.S. Department of Education, Using family and community resources,

Strategies for Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Home and School Partnerships

*Create a survey for parents to evaluate partnerships and programs in their native language

*Develop a parental involvement document policy

  • Parents participate in a yearly evaluation of implementation and effectiveness

*Develop a checklist of programs, communication, participation opportunities, activities, culture in curriculum, community outreach

  • A committee made up of educators, parents and community members continuously meet to ensure implementation and reflect on successes and failures to make ongoing adjustments

The Role of Leadership in Cultivating a Positive Home and School Partnership for ELL Students

*Parents taking on a leadership role in partnering in their child’s education and school community will display the value of importance to the child

  • Children will “see” how parents value education and the school community
  • Children will make language acquisition important and have motivation to achieve educational goals

*Encourage parents to take on leadership roles with school leaders

  • Start small such as contributing ideas for school activities and programs
  • Bigger roles such as serving on a committee or parent advisory board

*Encourage bilingual parents to serve as translators

*Encourage parents to mentor and support other parents


Breiseth, L., Roberstson, K., & Lafond, S. (2011). A guide for engaging ELL families: Twenty strategies for school leaders. Retrieved from

Genesee, F. (n. d.). The home language: An English language learner's most valuable resource. Retrieved from

Gonzalez, V. (2001). The role of socioeconomic and sociocultural factors in language-minority children’s development: An ecological research view. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education. (2000). Using family and community resources. Retrieved from

Created by Stacey Van Dyke