Honoring the Multilingualism of our Students

Seattle, Highline and Kent School Districts Honor the Multilingualism of Public School Students
Posted on 11/16/2016
Young students in class

Seattle Public Schools is proud to release its "Speak English AND Your Home Language" video honoring the multilingualism of students in Seattle and neighboring districts. The video, available with subtitles in eight languages plus English, was made in collaboration with Highline Public Schools, the Kent School District and OneAmerica. 

Production of this video stems from the work of district educators in Seattle and other South King County School Districts who are part of the Road Map ELL Work Group working to provide quality instruction to English language learners (ELL) to close opportunity gaps. 

The video seeks to illustrate the value of multilingualism for families and society. “Large companies, some of the largest of which are based right here in Seattle and Washington, already value multilingual employees,” said Veronica Gallardo, Director of ELL and International Services at Seattle Public Schools. "Why not start kids off in that direction as early as possible?

In the classroom, this means recognizing a student’s home language as an asset to learning. Parents should be encouraged to support their children to read or speak in their home language first in order to build upon the competencies they already possess. "Not only does this help students advance in their English language studies, but it also reaffirms for students the value of their home language. This builds confidence which aids educational achievement.” said Gallardo.

“With families from so many countries living in our region, we have the world at our fingertips,” says Roxana Norouzi, Director of Education at OneAmerica, a local immigrant and education advocacy organization. “Embracing this diversity within the education system through honoring language and culture has benefits to all students, schools, cities and our society. Building off of our home language campaign, this video is an effort to help people understand and appreciate the many assets of immigrant and refugee communities and reinforce the incredible strengths that come with being multilingual.”

The Seattle school district serves 6,450 English language learners who contribute 108 languages to the total of 143 spoken by families across the district. According to federal data, Seattle’s 98118 zip code is home to speakers of 66 languages, more than any other zip code in the United States. 

The Kent School District is home to over 5,300 English language learners representing 93 of the 138 languages spoken district-wide. Highline Public Schools serves nearly 5,500 English language learners speaking 93 different languages.

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