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Library’s Collection Reinforces Home Language Fluency

Library’s Collection Reinforces Home Language Fluency

GWA boasts the largest children’s library in all of Morocco with over 60,000 titles.  The goal, however, is not to have the most books:  it is to have the right books.

GWA boasts the largest children’s library in all of Morocco with over 60,000 titles.  This is a point of pride in our list of GWA distinctives. The goal, however, is not to have the most books:  it is to have the right books. Head Librarian Ms. Asmaa Rias El Idrissi describes the right books as “material that [students] can relate to and that helps build and anchor their sense of identity.”

The right books “meet and reflect our school’s vision of creating multilingual and lifelong learners who support and honor cultural diversity. That is why our driving force is to contribute towards this mindset through the home language collection,” says Ms. Asmaa.

Gwen Bere, Language Acquisition & Instructional Specialist, explains that, “In our multilingual, global world, people often speak one or more languages at home which may differ from those learned at school. Home language(s) is defined as those most often used by family and friends in the home as well as in many daily activities outside of school.” While 52 percent of GWA students in 2018 School Climate Survey responses reported speaking English at home, 64 percent reported speaking French, 47 percent reported speaking Darija, and 31 percent reported speaking other languages at home. (Respondents were able to note multiple languages spoken at home.) In such a multilingual environment and with a student body representing a total of 38 nationalities, GWA’s library takes on the hefty challenge of equipping our library with a diverse collection of high-quality literature that is relatable to our students' varied home language, culture, and literacy experiences. 

In previous years, GWA’s library made it a goal to bolster the book collections of the primary languages at our school:  English, French, and Arabic. The acquisitions include books of the most recent and popular titles. In both French and Arabic combined, our collection exceeds 30,000 titles. This year, GWA has taken the concept of curating the library collection and reading in one’s home languages one step further. It now includes a multilingual collection of popular titles in Spanish and Chinese, with German to follow.

Ms. Asmaa asserts that “promoting a love of reading in any language will help students gain important reading skills that can transfer across languages''. Many more reasons encourage building multilingual skills in languages students speak at home:  Research shows that building strong language and literacy skills -- speaking, listening, reading, and writing -- in languages spoken at home has a positive impact on literacy development in all other languages. If and when students return to their home countries or move on to university, they will not only be fluent in their home language and English but also equipped with the literacy tools to learn and grow in any language. Students are then able to create their own unique identity as a multilingual, global citizen while honoring their home language and cultural roots as well.