Fun Summer Activities for Multilingual Learners

Fun summer activities for multilingual learners
Fun summer activities for multilingual learners
©Summit K12

The end of the 2023-2024 school year is upon us. Looking for some fun Summer activities you can share with your Multilingual Learners over the Summer?

We’ve got you covered.

Fun summer activities for multilingual learners
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In this article, we will explore the challenges and ideas related to English Language Learners and the “Summer Slide” – a phenomenon where students lose academic progress and skills during the Summer break. 

You will also find fun activities for English language learners to help students retain their skills over the Summer. 

Some of these strategies below include activities such as watching TV with subtitles, organizing scavenger hunts, conducting cooking classes, utilizing online resources, creating podcasts, forming book clubs, and participating in art workshops – all designed to keep students engaged and learning in a fun and interactive manner.

Let’s go! We’re getting close to the end of another school year!

As the 2023-2024 school year ends, students, teachers, and parents look forward to a much-needed break, family time, and making new memories. Throughout the school year, effective educators work hard to ensure their students gain the skills they need as they progress through their education journey.

However, what happens to student achievement over Summer break?

After a plentiful Summer, we all return to school in the Fall with big eyes and hope for a successful new academic year. Unfortunately, many students fall behind during the Summer, setting them back quite a bit. They also return to the classroom with fewer skills and lose some of the academic progress they made the previous year.

Students from some demographics are more likely to be impacted by Summer learning loss, also known as “The Summer Slide.” Teachers, school administrators, and parents can support continued learning over the Summer by providing fun activities multilingual students can use to help retain the achievements they made over the school year.

Before we look at fun activities you can use over the Summer, let’s talk about “The Summer Slide.”

What is “The Summer Slide?”

“The Summer Slide” is a term educators use to describe the learning loss students tend to have over the Summer. Summer Slide is the tendency for students – many from lower-income homes – to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. 

Students work hard from September to June, and many families look forward to the Summer break so they can spend some relaxing time with families. However, being away from the academic setting for a long time can have a significant impact on student learning, retention, and outcomes.

In fact, some students may return to school in September only to find that they need to revisit and relearn many things they lost over the three months away from the classroom.

How Does “The Summer Slide” Affect English-Language Learners?

English language learners in school tend to be significantly affected by “The Summer Slide.” Over the Summer break, multilingual learners tend to have less access to technology and other resources, may work more, or they might have to stay home assisting with younger siblings – leaving them less in tune with the English skills they learned over the school year.

This group of learners include English language learners (ELLs), Emerging Bilingual learners (EBs), and Multilingual learners (MLLs).  

Why do students lose language gains they achieved over the school year?

During the Summer, students spend less time in their learning language environments, have less access to English reading materials, and have limited parental educational support – especially if parents do not speak English at home.

The Importance of First Language Home-Language Literacy

Marilee Coles-Ritchie, Ph.D., runs a Substack titled, Helping Multilingual Learners Thrive. In her recent article,Encourage Home Language Literacy in the Summer,” she states, “Home-language literacy helps and does not hinder reading development in a new language. Grammar rules, letter sounds, and other factors differ between languages; the foundational reading skills developed in a student’s first language will transfer to the second language. A student who becomes proficient in reading in their home language is better prepared to learn reading in a new language. On the other hand, a student who must learn reading skills and a new language simultaneously has to work twice as hard and is less likely to succeed in either area. To support students develop literacy in English, the first step is developing literacy in their home language.”

This is a crucial point to remember because maintaining one’s first language is critical to ongoing success and growth of a second language. It is a building block for all English language learners.

As English instructors, we never encourage students to stop speaking their native language. However, we encourage parents to become involved in their children’s language learning experience, which benefits the entire family.


fun summer activities for multilingual learners
Image by Shuttershock

In a perfect academic world, English language learners would have tailored educational resources offered to them to help prevent summer learning loss. However, since we don’t live in a perfect academic world, let’s focus on how we can help students maintain what they’ve learned over the school year.

The Importance of Addressing “The Summer Slide”

Addressing the Summer Slide is integral to parents’ and teachers’ roles in education. Although most teachers do not usually work directly with students during the summer months, helping families stay engaged and providing summer resources is an excellent way for them to support their students and keep families engaged. 

Students who experience less summer slide are more likely to succeed in future school years, ultimately creating a student population ready to learn and thrive in an educational environment.

Fun Summer Activities for Multilingual Learners

Encourage Students to Watch TV over the Summer – Using Subtitles!
Multilingual learners can get closer to reaching their linguistic goals by watching English shows and videos with subtitles. Students can gain more vital listening, speaking, and comprehension skills while engaging in a fun activity relevant to their lives. Watching TV with subtitles is also a great way to recall words and build on new vocabulary. Encourage your students to try this simple activity over the Summer.

Also, according to The World Literacy Foundation, “Turning on the subtitles while watching television can double the chances of a child becoming good at reading. Also, based on an academic study of 2,350 children, 34% became good readers with schooling alone. But, when students were exposed to 30 minutes a week of subtitled film songs, that proportion more than doubled to 70%.”

Given these stats for regular readers, it’s a simple and cost-effective way for English language learners to keep the momentum going all year. 

Create a Summer Outdoor Language Scavenger Hunt Map
Before the school year ends, create a neighborhood scavenger hunt game where students search for outdoor items related to the Summer. They can practice English vocabulary words related to nature – such as types of trees, flowers, clouds, animals, and weather phenomena. Provide clues and descriptions in English, encouraging students to communicate with each other and use the language in a fun and interactive way.

Create a Summer English Cooking Class
Organize a series of Summer cooking classes where students learn to prepare simple dishes. You can provide recipes in English and guide students through each step, explaining cooking techniques and ingredients. This hands-on activity promotes language learning through practical hands-on experiences and cultural exploration. Be sure to inform parents about this activity for engagement and safety reasons. 

Share Online Language Resources and Activities
Look for free online resources students can use during the Summer and send them home with a list they can easily access. Some online resources can include language immersion Summer camps, interactive lessons, virtual field trips to English-speaking destinations, cultural workshops, and language exchange activities with native speakers. 

English Language Podcast Project
If your students can access technology at home, encourage them (depending on their English level) to create an English podcast based on the topics they find interesting. Students can work individually or in groups to brainstorm ideas, script episodes, record audio, and edit content. All of these processes encourage speaking and listening skills. Encourage them to share their podcasts with classmates, friends, and family.

If they are not at a substantial stage in speaking, find different podcasts in English that are content and age-appropriate for students to listen to and engage.

Fun summer activities for multilingual learners

Create an English Language Book Club
Start an English language book club where students read and discuss books together over the Summer. Choose books that cater to different interests and proficiency levels, and schedule regular meetings to share thoughts, insights, and favorite passages in English. This activity encourages reading comprehension, grows vocabulary, supports critical thinking skills, and fosters strong peer interaction.

Virtual Reality Language Tours
Utilize virtual reality technology to take students on immersive language tours of English-speaking destinations worldwide. They can explore famous landmarks, historical sites, and cultural attractions while practicing English vocabulary and phrases related to travel and tourism. Incorporate interactive quizzes and activities to enhance learning and engagement during the virtual tours.

Reference Art and Creativity Workshops for the Summer months
Find art and creativity workshops where students express themselves through various artistic mediums, such as painting, drawing, photography, or creative writing, while using English as the primary language of communication. Some great workshops with activities can include reading, writing, speaking and listening prompts, Summer theme vocabulary word activities. Find places that help share their creations in various formats – so they have ample opportunities to talk, write, listen, or read in English.

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