What is the role of students’ home language in the classroom?

Education Connections

In the past few decades, education policy has gone back and forth in regards to the use and place of students’ home language in classroom instruction. However, recent research suggests that the incorporation of students’ home languages in the classroom, alongside English instruction, can help reduce the stress of the learning environment, allows instructors to use richer and more authentic texts, encourages students to think critically and make connections across languages (which can help deep learning and recall), and provides students with additional support to encourage continued learning and language development (Butzkamm, 2003).

For a discussion of why home language instruction and supports can be beneficial for your students, as well as how you can start including home language supports in your classroom, check out this article.

For some further information and discussion around the place of home language use in the classroom, be sure to hear this 7-minute interview from Larry Ferlazzo.

Finally, for a little more background on the research surrounding home language use in the classroom, try this resource from Colorín Colorado.


Butzkamm, W. (2003). We only learn language once-the role of the mother tongue in EFL classrooms: Death of a dogma. Language Learning Journal, 28 (1), 29-39.


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