How to become a Language Friendly School?
The Language Friendly School is a label and a network of schools.
The Language Friendly School does not provide a blueprint of what schools must do. Rather, it starts with what schools need and what they can realistically accomplish.
At the very minimum, schools commit not to punish children speaking their mother tongue. For some schools this is already a significant step. By connecting with other Language Friendly Schools they can share good practices and teachers can be inspired to take a next step forward.
Assessment of the situation
The school assesses together with their entire entire team what they are already doing and explores the ambitions of becoming (more) language friendly. Have a look at the Roadmap and the tips for making a plan below.
By filling out the registration form, your school starts the formal onboarding process. The team at the Language Friendly School reviews the information provided by you. Register here
Involving School Leadership
After the review, the Language Friendly School Team plans a meeting with the principal, headmaster or school leader.
The school commits in writing to the basic requirements (see Roadmap)
Your school is a Language Friendly School!
The school receives a certificate, can use the label and has access to the online platform. The plans of the school are discussed in an intake meeting with the coordinator.
Language Friendly School Plan
During two years, the school develops a Language Friendly School Plan, implements and evaluates it. Support and professional development is offered through one-on-one meetings and e-learning (see memberships below). Exchange with other Language Friendly Schools and experts is facilitated.
The Roadmap to welcoming all languages
Our Roadmap shows what Language Friendly Schools commit to. The first section shows the basic requirements of becoming a Language Friendly School. The Roadmap also provides ideas for activities as a school and in the classroom. These are all optional.
In the onboarding process of becoming a Language Friendly School, this Roadmap can prove to be helpful. The Roadmap is reviewed by the school's entire team. Parents and children may be involved here. The school determines if the first requirements are met, which activities of the school level or classroom level the school is already doing, and which activities the school plans on doing the next year.
A Language Friendly School Plan
Schools who wish to go further may consider the following steps:
Assessment of the situation
The school assesses its current situation. The process should start from the students’ perspectives. How do they feel if they are allowed/forbidden to speak their home language in the classroom or at the schoolyard? What about the teachers? The staff? And the parents? Taking into account the perspectives and wishes of the whole school community is essential. To ensure that all stakeholders are informed of all the pros and cons involved, information sharing sessions with multilingual education experts are strongly advised.
Formulating a language plan
Based on this assessment, a realistic set of educational and linguistic goals is formulated in the form of a school language plan, accompanied by a time frame when each goal should be realized. The plan should state how key figures within the school will encourage the students to make use of their languages as resources. Each teacher may define his/her own plan that may vary depending on the activity. Beware: The goal is to stimulate the student’s agency with regard to his/ her languages, not to restrict it. Examples of school language plans will be posted on this website.
Depending on each school’s needs, the actions may include training of teachers in multilingual and mother tongue-based education; acquisition or development of multilingual teaching and learning materials, and/or designing ways of how parents and local communities can be involved in the implementation.
Monitoring and evaluation
For a language plan to achieve its goals, active monitoring and evaluation is required. It is recommended to create a monitoring mechanism in which all stakeholders are represented (teachers, management, parents, students, other staff). This group would gather regularly to discuss what is being done and what can be improved. At regular intervals (every 3-5 years) the plan should undergo in-depth evaluation with all stakeholders (back to Step 1) and if necessary, adapted. The new plan will then be monitored until it is ready for another evaluation. In this way, new teachers, students and parents are continually included and the language plan stays relevant and up-to-date.
All schools are welcome to join. The network is open for primary and secondary schools; international, private, public and many more.
Benefits for Schools
- Language Friendly Schools have access to an online platform to share ideas with other schools on multilingual teaching strategies, with online videos and webinars and the latest research findings.
- Teachers and staff have the opportunity to meet each other during Language Friendly School Conferences; informal gatherings to exchange ideas, gather inspiration and make new friends from around the world.