Early Literacy Learning for Immigrant and Refugee Children
Date posted: February 21, 2018
Today is International Mother Language Day. It’s a time to reflect on the importance of linguistic diversity. Did you know that:
- There are over 7,000 known living languages.
- 3 billion people lack access to education in their own languages.
- Most children grow up in an environment where more than one language is spoken.
- Linguistic diversity is threatened as one language disappears on average every two weeks.
Early learning and family literacy programs in BC serve a linguistically diverse population of parents and children. The International Literacy Association recently published a literacy leadership brief on Early Literacy Learning for Immigrant and Refugee Children: Parents’ Critical Roles.
Written by Dr. Jim Anderson, Dr. Marianne McTavish and Dr. Ji-Eun Kim from the Department of Language and Literacy Education in UBC’s Faculty of Education, it states:
Historically, many immigrant and refugee children and families have lost their home languages quickly. However, there are compelling cognitive, cultural, linguistic, psychological, and social reasons for educators to encourage and support families in maintaining home languages. (p.5)
Read the brief for a quick introduction to the latest thinking on mother language in early literacy learning. For a more in-depth look, read Lessons from parents, and with parents in early literacy learning for migrant and refugee students.
A practical example of working with mother language in family literacy programs is the IPALS (Parents as Literacy Supporters in Immigrant Communities) program. It is a culturally responsive family literacy program designed to help immigrant and refugee families – and their young children – flourish in their new communities.