All of the books are created based on decades of research into how children learn languages. Especially important is research that has taken place during the past decade, showing how to help children develop their languages in a way that allows them to learn about topics across their languages (instead of in just one language at a time). This helps children be able to talk about any topic in any of their languages (instead of only being able to discuss some things in one language and some things in another language). Through these methods, we are helping children to build lasting bridges between their languages and content knowledge.
This type of knowledge and skill development provides children with a solid foundation that will stay with them as they grow. Children who build translanguaging bridges will also benefit from the ability to navigate diverse cultural and linguistic situations across a multitude of contexts.
The materials from Translanguaging Aotearoa are based upon the research mentioned above, as well as actual observations with real children in real schools. The materials have been developed in consultation with the communities they represent and have been tested with schools before being made available. As such, all materials also reflect cultural values of norms of the communities, so that children can build an understanding of these along with the languages. However, it is also important to us to know where adjustments should be made to best fit the needs of different communities. So, if you find that some changes to the materials would make them work better for your context, please get in touch, and we can start a dialogue.
There are many ways to use the materials. What we present here is one way of using them that we have found to work to achieve strong results.
Plan to read the book out loud with the children two or three times. The first time, you should read the whole story all the way through. If the children are of reading age, you should spend a second time reading through the book, while prompting the children to take turns sharing the reading with you. For the third reading (if the children can read) or the second reading (if the children cannot yet read), pause after each page to ask the children questions about the content of the story.
Questions should be asked in multiple languages, and this will vary depending on each context. We recommend asking questions in the language(s) of teaching, as well as any home language(s) that the school is wanting to support. For example, if a school is teaching in Samoan and English but also wants to support home language speakers of Tongan, some content questions should be asked in each of these languages. Some content questions about the story will be asked in Samoan. Children can reply in any language(s) and should be encouraged to do so. Then their responses should be confirmed/adjusted and repeated in Samoan for all children. Then, some content questions should be asked in English, again encouraging children to reply in any language(s), and re-stating/repeating all answers in English. Finally, some questions would be asked in Tongan, encouraging children once again to replay in any language(s), followed by stating the answers again in Tongan.
This systematic use of languages will build children's knowledge of all of these languages by building bridges between them. Teachers should also point to relevant text in the books when answering questions, so that children are engaged in literacy building as well. This can be further enhanced by giving children small group or pair tasks to complete with the book. Children should be encouraged to use any languages that they have access to in order to negotiate linguistic meaning and to continue to build bridges.