Going virtual - adapting a dual-language program for children who speak minority languages

Champion Name

Andrea MacLeod, Catrine Demers

University of Alberta
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Challenge Description

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By valuing the abilities that minority language children bring to school, we are building towards an inclusive society that deeply values diversity. A child's ability to communicate at home and at school provides a bridge to accessing support and resources for well-being. A dual-language approach to supporting communication abilities in young children can take a step towards this deep valuing of diversity. We have developed a face-to-face approach that works with community partners to provide dual-language support for groups of young children.

The challenge we face is adapting our dual-language approach to the virtual context. The rapid shutting down of daycares and schools have left many new Canadian families isolated due to limited proficiency in English and small social networks. The challenge is made even greater when the family has limited access and experience with computers or tablets. On the other hand, families have reported that being at home has strengthened their child’s minority language, suggesting a silver lining to these difficult times. A strong solution would allow provide support to families during the pandemic, but also beyond this period to support families who live in smaller towns with fewer services.

A low-cost and easy to navigate solution that would allow for users who have limited computer skills, limited budgets, and limited English-language abilities to navigate and support their children. We are working with a community partner and could implement the solution to great impact within the next 6 months. An interdisciplinary team is needed will be essential.