04.02.02 - First and Second Language Acquisition

First and Second Language Acquisition Policy Number and Last Update


IMSHSP programs foster the continual development of the child's home language and the acquisition of English. The process for acquiring English must be additive and allow for the maintenance and continued growth of the home language.


  1. Affirm the children's culture and mother tongue by:
    • Staffing all classrooms with at least one teacher who speaks each child's first language;
    • Supplying books and music in the children's first language, and reading and singing with the children;
    • Furnishing learning materials representing the children's home culture;
    • Providing culturally relevant resources;
    • Conversing with children in their first language; and
    • Allowing children to relate personal experiences in their home language.
  2. Teach second language by:
    • Using simple sentences, repetition, gestures, and facial expressions;
    • Using everyday vocabulary, gradually expanding to help children make gradual progress;
    • Linking vocabulary to first-hand experiences;
    • Providing predictable routines that foster associated language;
    • Using verbal and non-verbal cues, modeling responses, encouraging repetition, and promoting adult-child and child-child conversation;
    • Providing children's literature and picture dictionaries in English; and
    • Using paraphrasing and modeling to repeat, expand, and extend what a child says, at a slightly higher level (e.g. child says, "school bus" - adult says, "there's a big yellow school bus".)
  3. Promote children's early literacy skills by:
    • Introducing alphabetic knowledge in first and second languages;
    • Providing emergent phonemic awareness activities in both languages;
    • Color-coding charts and posters (e.g. Spanish text in red, English text in blue);
    • Using the STEP curriculum as a resource;
    • Accepting children's attempts to speak and write in both languages; and
    • Documenting children's progress.