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Supporting Additive Bilingualism in the Classroom

The ESL curriculum of the 1950s and 1960s placed little emphasis on the importance of using a student's home language and culture as a knowledge base on which to build academic success.

Today, most teachers understand the benefits of additive bilingualism.

What are some approaches that teachers can support additive bilingualism in the classroom?

Solution Preview

Great question! I am an ESL/ELL teacher and a firm believer in additive bilingualism. Basically, this means the idea that being bilingual is an asset rather than a liability. (It's adding something to you rather than taking something away.) With the idea of additive bilingualism, we encourage students to practice their home language and speak it with their families at home. Learning is learning, no matter the language. A student's home language and culture are valuable resources that should be tapped in the classroom. We do not want students to lose their culture. Here are some ways that I do this on a daily basis.

1. For every subject that I teach, I send home books with lots of pictures and ...

Solution Summary

This is an explanation of additive bilingualism and how it can be supported in the classroom. I've given four examples specific to my classroom, but those ideas can help you figure out how to support additive bilingualism in your own classroom.