How to raise awareness about Early language learning among parents - kindergarten teachers' advice
Because it was needless to explain the benefits of ELL to the language immersion kindergarten teachers, a workshop was organised in order to gather best practises and experiences on how to raise awareness about ELL among parents.
Teachers worked in groups and discussed the following questions:”How to better reach parents on ELL, what communication channels we can and should use?”, What are the benefits of ELL, how can we communicate positively about ELL?”, ”How to explain better the ELL methodology used in language immersion kindergartens to parents?” and ”What practical tips can we give parents so they will support the ELL also at home?”
In regard to communication about ELL the multichannel communication was considered as effective. Apart from raising awareness about ELL in general through media, the importance of showing the ELL activities to parents in practice was emphasised. Parents should be able to visit their own child’s kindergarten and open door days should be organised for interested families; parents should participate in field visits and be able to observe situations where their child is communicating using the language he/she is learning. Letting parents to actually play, sing and take part in any language activities is also effective in trasmitting information about ELL. Parents should be given a chance to experience the role of a child and gain learning experiences also themselves.
Involving parents in the activities was also considered imporant in proving the benefits of early language learning to parents. Another important point expressed by the teachers was to do follow up on children who has participated in language immersion programs; what is the children’s own feedback, their experience and how are they doing later in life? The good results often speak for themselves. In cases when participation in activities or real life cases are not able to be shown, teachers recommended the use of visual material such as booklets, leaflets and videos that can be widely spread.
The kindergarten teachers’ role was also seen important in trasmitting positive image about ELL. Teachers must be confident and gain the trust of the parents. This can be done through face to face communications, such as bi-yearly meetings with parents, where their child’s success on language learning is praised and the progress is explained. The ELL program and methodology that is used in each kindergarten should also be explained to parents through regular communications.
When it comes to supporting the child’s language learning at home parents should understand their role; be positive about ELL and multiculturalism, speak their own native language to the children at home as good knowledge about the mother toungue boosts learning of other languages, appreciate their own culture and offer children possibilities to use foreign languages (meet with other children, travels, camps, tv or multimedia etc.)