Useful Strategies to Help Bilingual Students Maintain Language Skills Over the Summer

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As the school year comes to a close, it’s essential to consider how we can support our bilingual students to maintain language skills during the summer break. While we won’t see our students daily anymore, here’s some activities that we can suggest to our students’ families to help them maintain language skills over the summer.

1. Emphasize the Importance of Reading

Reading is a powerful tool for language development. Encourage students to read books in their target language over the summer. Provide them with a list of recommended titles suitable for their age and language proficiency level. Whether it’s engaging stories, bilingual books, or culturally relevant literature, reading will not only strengthen their language skills but also broaden their cultural understanding.

2. Consume Media in Spanish

In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to find media in Spanish. Ask parents to put movies and shows from streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ in Spanish with English subtitles. This way your students are still engaging with Spanish while on summer vacation. I find that parents are very comfortable with this because they know that the show or movie is appropriate for their children, even if they can’t understand the language.

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3. Connect with Language Exchange Programs

Language exchange programs provide invaluable opportunities for students to practice their language skills and engage with native speakers. Help students and their families find language exchange programs or virtual language learning communities in their area. Through language exchange meetups, virtual platforms, or online pen pal programs, students can build meaningful connections while improving their language proficiency.

4. Engage in Cultural Enrichment Activities

Language learning is closely tied to cultural immersion. Encourage families to participate in cultural enrichment activities that expose them to traditions, customs, and history related to their target language. They can attend cultural festivals, visit museums, try international cuisine, or enjoy movies and TV shows in the target language. These activities not only reinforce language skills but also foster a deeper appreciation for diverse cultures.

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5. Encourage Journaling and Writing

Keeping a journal in the target language is an effective way for students to practice writing skills and express their thoughts. Provide writing prompts or topics that inspire reflection and creativity. Encourage students to write regularly, documenting their experiences and language growth over the summer. When the new school year begins, they can share their journals with you or their next teacher, fostering a sense of continuity and showcasing their progress.

6. Engage Families as Language Partners

Encourage your families to interact with each other over the summer. Spanish-dominant and English dominant families can take turns hosting their children so they can practice the target language, or they could have meet ups in the park to practice their Spanish or English. 

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By implementing these strategies and sharing these resources with your students and their families, you can help them maintain their language skills and continue their linguistic journey over the summer. Consistent practice, exposure to the language, and cultural enrichment activities will contribute to their overall language development. Remember, language maintenance is a continuous process, and with your guidance, students can return to the classroom in the new school year with strengthened language skills and a deeper appreciation for other cultures.

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