I once had two Polish speakers in my third grade class. I didn’t know anything about Polish, but one student’s mom was insistent that he continue to learn his native language. To support her efforts, I suggested she help her son prepare something in Polish to share with the class. He memorized a poem and recited it to the class a week or so later. I made a big deal of his bilingual abilities and worked to help my other students see the value in developing their own bilingualism.
What are your experiences with your students’ native languages? Do you speak them? How do you use them in the classroom? If you only speak English, have you found ways to incorporate or demonstrate value for other languages with your students?