Teachers and families play a critical role in developing language-rich learning environments. Try these strategies to engage all children in rich conversations in English or in their home language.

Get down on the child’s level.

Tune in and listen to what the child says. If the child does not speak yet, tune into what they are doing or pointing to and use these moments to talk with them. Take turns talking. If the child doesn’t have language yet, that may mean you are talking and the child is communicating in nonverbal ways, such as through gestures, looks, smiles, babbles, and word approximations (children’s attempts at words).

Talk about what the child is doing, what the child is looking at, or what the child is interested in.

Ask questions that relate to the child’s experiences or interests.

Add words or questions to what the child says or does and model new language.

Give the child enough time to respond. For children who do not have language yet, this may be a nonverbal response, like a gesture or a look.

Stay tuned in to the child’s facial and body expressions to make sure they are engaged

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