At the recent hopes and concerns meetings I took the opportunity to discuss with parents effective ways to support their child’s acquisition of English. They were particularly receptive to a tree analogy I shared and said it greatly helped their understanding. I explained that the trunk is the primary language. As with a tree, the primary language needs to keep growing and remain strong in order to support the growth of branches, that represent new languages, knowledge and understandings. A strong and continuously evolving primary language (trunk), enables the effective transfer of conceptual understandings and linguistic skills (branches).
I encouraged the parents to keep reading to their children in the mother tongue and developing their primary vocabulary. As concepts first encountered and understood in this language, can be more easily transfer to other languages. I also encouraged them to make reading fun by doing for example tandem reading and explaining the unknowns, (I advised not sending children to the dictionary and making reading a chore) along with making comparisons between languages on words and phrasing. Some parents were relieved and excited to be encouraged to read in their mother tongue. I really hope that all of them were inspired enough to make the time to read with their child, whatever the language.