Supporting students' multilingual learning through play

Education | 20 Jul 2021

Held on June 19 (Saturday) at Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Kowloon East, The Standard's TKO Education Fair received an overwhelming response from parents and educators. Aside from individual booths for consultation and information collection, the Fair also featured six presentations by experienced educators.  

Supporting students’ multilingual learning through play

Focusing on the importance of multi-language learning for children, Angela Kotze, Student Support Services Coordinator at Yew Chung International School's (YCIS) Early Childhood Education (ECE), expanded on the subject of  ‘Supporting multilingual learning through play’.

There are two useful ways to encourage children’s language learning, and the first, she said, is through play because children are highly motivated to engage in learning that takes place naturally in self-exploring. “This motivation and experiential cognition, coupled with high levels of relevance and meaning to the child, enables ‘positive queuing’,” she explained.

Another method is valuing the mother tongue. “Children tend to think and process information with their mother language,” she added. “So we should respect and value their first language first to give them a sense of security.”

On facilitating children's multi-language acquisition, she underlined the importance of the environment as a third teacher. “You cannot make a child speak a language, but you can set the stage that encourages them to speak it,” she continued. “It's very powerful to let your child take the initiative and have the interest to do something by themselves.”

In alignment with this philosophy, YCIS ECE’s 5 campuses - of which the newest one is located at TKO - are designed throughout to create an emergent, natural and diverse environment in terms of language acquisition.

Furthermore, the school boasts a wide variety of peer range with students coming from different parts of the world. “What we have seen is that a different mother tongue is no impediment to interaction among students,” Kotze noted. The diverse classroom setting gives students opportunities to understand, experience and experiment with different languages.”

Kotze also underscored the efficacy of a co-teaching team. “Notwithstanding the difference in their background, our co-teaching teams are observing, reflecting and planning every single day for individuals as well as the group.”

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