Translanguaging in Kindergarten and First Grade: Boosting Biliteracy and Bilingualism

Image of anchor chart supporting translanguaging in K-1 Dual Language.

Translanguaging in Kindergarten and First Grade:  Boosting Biliteracy and Bilingualism

Teachers can use translanguaging to support learning in the classroom.  In this post, I will show you what to do and what not to do so that you can use translanguaging effectively and your kids can use all of their assets in your Kinder or First Grade classroom and become biliterate faster. 

What is Translanguaging?

Translanguaging is when a person, young or old, can move easily between 2 or more languages, simply stated. Bilingual and multilingual people can think simultaneously in all of their languages, switching back and forth seamlessly.  Students are at an advantage when they can think in both (or multiple) languages, and then use their 'home language' as a vehicle to learn in the target language.  

Specifically, Dual Language Kindergarteners and First Graders are learning in 2 languages.  Considering the scenario of a Kindergarten or First Grade kiddo who is learning in both Spanish and English, it is important to understand that some kids speak only Spanish or only English at home.  Yet other kids speak both Spanish and English at home.  Once the kiddo steps into the Dual Language classroom, however, then he or she begins to listen, speak, read and write in both Spanish and English.

Translanguaging is an asset for bilingual kids, and teachers can tap into that asset to jump-start biliteracy!
Image of a pin on translanguaging.
Save this pin for later.

What to do so that you can use translanguaging strategies to support biliteracy.

There are so many ways that you can use translanguaging strategies to support biliteracy in your Kinder or First Grade Dual Language classroom.   Here are some translanguaging strategies that you can implement right away:

1.  Designate a time when students can use Language Choice.
This designated time could be Free-Time on Fridays; it could be recess; or it could even be snack time.  But a consistently designated time for Language Choice will bring out the translanguaging in your kids!
2. Create Bilingual Read-Aloud Time.
This is simple.  Read in the target language, and then allow students to answer questions, or participate in partner work in their home language hereby giving them choice as to which language they find easier to communicate in.  Then bring it back together as a whole group in the target language.  This creates discussion in both languages, and the reading happens in the target language.
3.  Model translanguaging with vocabulary.
When you introduce unit vocabulary, have a designated bulletin board for vocabulary.  Introduce the words on the bulletin board in the target language, and place a visual next to the word.  When you are ready, reinforce the vocabulary words in the home language by writing the word on the other side of the visual, and perhaps have discussions on different uses of the words in the home language.  Sometimes the words have different shades of meaning in other languages, and this can create an interesting discussion.
4.  Provide explicit language-focused instruction with cross linguistic connections.
Teach language features and structures in both languages drawing parallels at the same time.  You can do this throughout your unit taking advantage of small teaching moments, and you can also construct a time at the end of your unit for intentional explicit explanations of different features or structures across the 2 languages.

One way to create small, cross-linguistic connections throughout the unit is by working on your phonetic, Dual Language word wall.  Point out the differences and similarities in letters like the Bb and the Vv.  They can be tricky to keep straight in Spanish!  Be sure to give examples of words spelled with the Bb and the Vv in English as well.
Another one to be on the look-out for is the ci/ce and the Ss/Zz in Spanish, and how those letters and sounds are used in English spelling.  Write the words out on a card, highlighting the letters that sound the same, but don't spell the same in Spanish.  Then, using those same letters and sounds, show the cross-linguistic connection in English.  For example, here are some Spanish words: Zapato, Cero, Cinco, Samantha.  Samantha can work well in both Spanish or English!!  The English cross-linguistic point could be Zero, Celery, Circus, etc.

My favorite, however, is the ge/gi and the Jj in Spanish, and the cross linguistic connection with the English Hh.  And don't forget that sometimes the letter Hh in English is 'silent' as it almost always is in Spanish!!  Some words in Spanish are Jalea, Gemelos, Gigante, Hada.  The English cross-linguistic words could be: Ham, House, Gem, Jam.

I love making these connections with kids, and the most effective way is with that Dual Language Word Wall.  Color-code your languages on your word wall so that as kids are learning to spell in 2 languages at the same time, they will not be confussed.  I always use green for Spanish and blue for English.  Write the letters on the word wall, and then write the words that correspond to the letters in Spanish (green) or English (blue).  The students will be able to sound out the words because they are familiar with the sounds in one or the other language.  I use visuals as much as possible with the words.
Image of a Cross Linguistic Word Wall in Spanish and English.

Image of a close-up look at Cross-Linguistic Word Wall.
Click on the image to see this resource on Teachers pay Teachers.

What not to do so that you can use translanguaging effectively:

1.  Do not translate.  Instead, use some of the translanguaging strategies mentioned above.
2.  Do not separate languages strictly.  Instead, create opportunities for kids to see similarities between languages.  Allow kids to use the home language to explore and understand new concepts before expressing them in the target language.
3.  Do not over correct language usage.  Instead, focus on meaning and the success students have when communication is successful. 
4.  Do not underestimate student ability.  Instead, set high expectations and provide challenging, engaging materials promoting critical thinking and biliteracy skills.

If you are looking for resources that can help you with translanguaging, check out this Dictado Trifecta #8 and check out the pack of centers that go with it HERE.  The centers are in Spanish only.
Image of the cover of Spanish Literacy Centers for syllables with Jj, Hh, and ge/gi.
Click on the image to see the product on Teachers pay Teachers.

The strategies mentioned in this post are simple and easy to implement right away.  They are highly effective, and well worth the effort.  Translanguaging supports biliteracy, and it is fascinating to observe the kiddos as they are living in the world of Translanguaging!  Enjoy the experience.

If this post has helped you in your classroom experience, please leave a kind comment so that you can help others as well! 

No comments

Post a Comment