By Kathy Ha
“Language is a child’s most powerful learning tool”
– Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell
• Talk with children throughout the whole day.
• Really listen to what children say and respond to the message they are sending to you.
• Expand on the child’s language in a natural way.
– If the child said, “I goed to see my grammy yesterday.” You might respond by saying, “You went to see your grammy yesterday. What did you do together?”
• Read aloud to children throughout the whole day.
• Encourage ‘turn and talk,’ a time when students talk with a partner about a relevant topic. While reading One, Two, Three to the Zoo one might say, “Turn and talk to your partner about a time you went to go see animals.”
• Sing songs with children.
• Use every opportunity to talk with children about what you are doing. While passing out snack you might say, “I am counting out how many cups I need. One, two, three…now I need to get the napkins out….”
• Provide opportunities for children to play. They will take part in self-talk, talk with peers, and talk with the adult who is facilitating high quality play.
• Engage in imaginative talk.
• Ask open-ended questions, those that ask the child to respond with more than just one word.
• Value the child’s home language(s). The experience with a home language builds the foundation for developing academic English at school.