Language Clubs:

Promoting cultural diversity and biliteracy through language clubs

Lindsey Sukany, Sherwood Elementary, Springfield, MO

Language Clubs:

Introduction

The students in our school come to us from many different backgrounds and cultural experiences. As educators, it’s our job to make all students feel welcomed and safe at our school and in our classrooms. Promoting and valuing the first language helps English learners and bilingual children feel more self-confident and respected for who they are. This project gives students the chance to show off their first languages and share their cultures. English learners show leadership through this project while monolingual students explore the many languages we have at our school.  

Step-by-Step Plan

First, we determined the languages spoken by the students at our school. 

After we had a list of languages, we ordered common materials in each language to use in our language lab including bilingual picture books, picture dictionaries, flashcards, activity books, coloring books, and magnetic letters.  

For this project, we created a language lab as a club to promote learning about specific languages and cultures. We scheduled times to introduce the language lab to each class during library time. Parent permission was requested because club activities took place outside of instructional time. Students were given the option to participate or go to recess once a week. On the permission forms, parents were asked to sign up to be guest readers. Several parents volunteered to read books in their home languages and over 60 students (second through fourth grades) participated. Many English learners participated and were able to be leaders and share about their home languages.  

Our language lab focused on 6 languages spoken by students and families at our school. These included Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese and Swahili. 

During each session, the students discussed where each language is spoken and practiced common phrases. Parent volunteers helped model language skills and read bilingual books to the groups. When a parent wasn’t available, we used YouTube videos so the class could hear the language spoken by a native speaker. Each session ended with participants taking a closer look at each language. When language-specific resources were available, we utilized flashcards, magnetic letters, picture books, picture dictionaries, coloring books, or activity books to practice writing the alphabet or different words. 

Last, we planned a celebration with all students who participated in the language lab. Each student received a multilingual language lab T-shirt for participating. 

Timeline

See the step-by-step plan above.

Budget

Custom Stamp - Personalized Logo/Address/Name Stamp Multiple Sizes Wooden Rubber Stamps $16.99
LovesTown 20 PCS Globe Squeeze Balls $15.99 x 4
Large World Map Tapestry Wall Hanging $17.97
International Flags $19.99
Where Is My Little Crocodile? - Onde está o meu pequeno crocodilo?: Bilingual English Portuguese Picture Book for Children $9.95
My First Big Portuguese Picture Dictionary: Two in One: Dictionary and Coloring Book $6.99
My First Portuguese Book $9.50
Portuguese Alphabet Coloring Book: Color & Learn the Portuguese Alphabet and Words $6.99
My Most Beautiful Dream – Ndoto yangu nzuri sana kuliko zote (English – Swahili) $9.95
My Swahili - English WORDS $9.99
My First Swahili Alphabets Picture Book with English Translations $14.49
English To Swahili Colour & Learn: Animals $7.79
My Most Beautiful Dream - قشنگ‌ترین رویای من (English - Persian, Farsi, Dari) $9.95
English-Pashto School Children’s Bilingual Picture Dictionary $10.99
The Lion Who Saw Himself in the Water: English-Pashto Edition $11.90
PASHTO ALPHABET COLORING BOOK: پښتو الفبا $8.99
The Rainbow Fish/Bi:libri - Eng/Korean PB $13.93
My First Korean Book. Korean-English Book for Bilingual Children $9.50
Soft Foam Korean Alphabet Magnetic Letters $9.70
Fun Start Korean Workbook for Kids 1 $15.95
Korean Alphabet: Korean Hangul Learning and Writing Workbook for Beginners and Kids Vol.1 $8.99
Fun Start Korean Workbook for Kids 1 $15.95
Korean Alphabet: Korean Hangul Learning and Writing Workbook for Beginners and Kids Vol.1 $8.99
Sự tích chú Cuội The Legend of Cuoi, the Man on the Moon: Vietnamese bilingual tale for Trung Thu $9.49
The Rainbow Fish/Bi:libri - Eng/Vietnamese PB $10.95
The Toddler's Handbook: Bilingual (English / Vietnamese) $30.22
My First Vietnamese Book. Vietnamese-English Book for Bilingual Children: Vietnamese-English children's book with illustrations for kids $8.99
English Vietnamese 50 Animals Vocabulary Activities Workbook for Kids: 4 in 1 reading writing tracing and coloring worksheets $9.99
Let's Learn Vietnamese Kit: A Complete Language Learning Kit for Kids $13.92
Who Lives in the Wood?: An Illustrated Ukrainian-English Bilingual Story for Kids - Simple Short Sentences for Beginners $8.99
My First Ukrainian Book. Ukrainian-English Book for Bilingual Children: Ukrainian-English children's book with illustrations for kids $9.50
First Ukrainian English Dictionary Language Learning Books for Children: 100 Basic bilingual animals words vocabulary builder card games. $9.99
Lets Learn Ukrainian Alphabet 180 New Words: Learn Ukrainian Letters and Words With Fun. English Translations and Transcription $10.99
Ukrainian handwriting practice workbook: Ukrainian cursive writing practice for kids and adults . Alphabet, words, sentences $8.99
Who Lives in the Wood?: An Illustrated Russian-English Bilingual Story for Kids - Simple Short Sentences for Beginners $8.99
My First Russian Book. Russian-English Book for Bilingual Children: Russian-English children's book with pictures $9.99
The Toddler's Handbook: Bilingual (English / Russian) (английский / русский) $8.99
Russian Alphabet For Kids Coloring Book: Learning Russian For Kids and Toddlers $6.99
Ingenio Spellable Bilingual Spelling Game
eeBoo Spanish Bingo Vocabulary Game $24.98
BOHS Spanish Literacy Wiz Fun Game - Espanol Lower Case 60 Flash Cards - Preschool Language Learning Educational Toys $16.99
My First Bilingual Little Readers: Level A: 25 Reproducible Mini-Books in English and Spanish That Give Kids a Great Start in Reading (Teaching Resources) $8.99
The Toddler's Handbook: Bilingual (English / Spanish) (Inglés / Español) Numbers, Colors, Shapes, Sizes, ABC Animals, Opposites, and Sounds $9.99
My First English - Español Learning Library (Mi Primea English - Español Learning Library) : Boxset of 10 English - Spanish Board Books $22.49
My First Spanish Book. Spanish-English Book for Bilingual Children: Spanish-English children's book with illustrations for kids $9.50
595 Spanish Vocabulary Flash Cards – Text & Audio Pronunciation with Pictures
Complete Book of Starter Spanish Workbook for Kids, PreK-Grade 1 Spanish Learning, Basic Spanish Vocabulary, Colors, Shapes, Alphabet, Numbers, Seasons, Weather With Tracing and Coloring Activities $10.39
Complete Book of Spanish Workbook for Kids, Grades 1-3 Spanish Learning, Basic Spanish Vocabulary, Alphabet, Numbers, Colors, Parts of Speech, Expressions, Dates, and Songs With Spanish Learning Cards $13.49
Language Lab T-Shirts for participants $693

What did it look like?

Sustainability

We plan to continue the language lab for many years. Students will not be able to check out materials we ordered for the language lab to keep them in good condition. However, the librarian ordered many multilingual and multicultural books that will be available for students to check out. Everyone will greatly benefit from these new resources for years to come. We can easily reproduce the language lab concept by purchasing additional resources in other target languages. 

Reflections

Sherwood currently has 52 students who have a first language other than English. The language lab was offered during recess time at each grade level. The lab houses games, activities, and books representing a variety of cultures and languages from our community. Not all language learners participated, but those who did really got a chance to shine. It was especially powerful when parents visited our language lab and read in their home language. Native English speakers found it motivating to investigate books in other languages and learn about new cultures. The next language lab session we offer will focus on Spanish, so we ordered more resources in the target language. We hope to expand language lab activities to additional grades if scheduling allows. 

The language lab, as well as our growing library of bilingual books, has truly created a more welcoming environment for all of our students. 

What did it look like?

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