English Language Learners / Ages 2-18

What to Know About Supporting Your English Learner at Home

The benefits of learning to speak, read, and write in more than one language go beyond academics.

English language learners are sometimes called “emerging bilinguals,” too, since your child will learn to speak, read, and write in two (or more!) languages. If your family speaks a language other than English at home, you might be wondering if you need to practice English with your child so they’ll do well in school. But using multiple languages is great for kids and their growing brains.

There are both academic and social-emotional benefits to being bilingual and biliterate. By sharing your home language with your child, you are setting them up for success in school and out.

Here’s what you need to know about supporting your child's language development:

  • Learning multiple languages at a young age changes the brain (and that’s a good thing). Research shows that children who are bilingual and biliterate have an easier time learning other subjects in school, too—even math! Here are some other benefits to being bilingual.
  • By using your family’s home language, you are supporting your child’s learning. Your family’s home language is a great benefit for your child. Being fluent in your family’s language will help prepare them for school. Even as they become fluent in English, it’s important to keep exposing them to the language (or languages) your family speaks.
  • Reading in your home language provides the basis for English literacy, too. Reading books in your family’s home language will support your child’s literacy in both languages. It will also help your child understand and appreciate your family’s culture and language traditions.
  • Just by speaking English at school, your child will become fluent in English. While you might be concerned that it will take longer for them to become fluent in English, don’t worry. Their English will develop through exposure in school and with friends. You won’t confuse your child by speaking your primary language (or languages) at home, while they learn English at school.
  • Television can help your child understand both languages, too. If your child takes turns watching TV in English and your home language, they’ll continue to be exposed to both languages just by enjoying their favorite shows. Once your child can read, you can also turn on subtitles so they can hear one language while reading the other.

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