May I Have a Word? Why Should Parents Talk to their Children in Their Native Language?

on September 15 | in News/Updates | by | with No Comments

Professionals, educators, and parents should be working together so that the native language is flourishing at home

In a recent article, Ann Paula G. Mumy of The Speech Shop, talked about the confusion in our society about the importance of the home language to future academic success.  Ms. Paula, a speech language pathologist and a multilingual mother of bilingual children, worries that, contrary to the research, families are being dissuaded from speaking their native language to their children.

Why should parents talk to their children their native language?

The first and simplest reason, she writes,  is because that is the language in which family members are likely to be the most dominant or proficient, which in turn is  the language in which are they able to provide quality language  input as well as support effectively and consistently.  Second, the research shows that children with strong first language skills are more ready and able to learn a second language (e.g English).  In other words, it is difficult to build a second language if the first language foundation is not established and supported while the second language is being learned.

According to Ms. Mumy:  “Children must be able to function/communicate effectively in their homes before they can function/communicate out in the community, so the native language cannot be stripped away.”

The author suggests that in every day conversations and family routines, during family outings and celebrations, speak your native language!! Tell your children stories in your native language! Children need to hear quantity and quality language input in order to have strong language skills, and parents are the primary individuals who can provide the language input needed in the native language.

What groups are concerned about this topic?

The newly formed Georgia Coalition for English Learners is a statewide effort to ensure that the 2020 vision of every child being on a path to literacy by third grade is realized.  The Coalition  envisions a Georgia that embraces and supports multilingual children and families and leverages their home language and culture to ensure that all English learners read at or above grade level in third grade and beyond.”

The Clarkston Early Learning Network (CELN) will be sponsoring discussions around home language and other language and literacy  topics, including what parents and the community can do.

(Author of article info:  Ana Paula G. Mumy, MS. CCC=SLP, www.thespeechshop.com; February 4, 2013.)

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