The Connection Between Language, Culture, and Literacy

Language and culture are intertwined.  You cannot have one without the other. Language affords us the ability to interact and communicate,  while culture helps to define who we are as a person or group of people. Values and traditions stem from culture.  Literacy and understanding the world around you comes from culture and life experiences. For that reason, it is important to create a connection between language, culture, and literacy.   Teachers working with English Learners (ELs) are always seeking out ways to increase their students’ motivation to learning in order to better their language and literacy skills.  There is no better way to increase motivation than by creating connections between learning and their culture. Here are some tips for forging the connection between language, culture, and literacy in your lessons.

Incorporate Bilingual Books

Incorporating bilingual books into your classroom lessons and homework assignments is a great way to form a connection between language, culture, and literacy.  Children are more apt to learn when they can relate to what they are reading. Every culture has its intricacies and this shines through literature and the stories being told. Lectura Books offers a wide variety of bilingual books for children of all ages.  Their award-winning Spanish/English bilingual books are a good tool to increase parental involvement.  With bilingual books, parents have the ability to read in their own language and learn English with their children.  

Use Multicultural Leveled Readers

Multicultural Leveled Readers are another good option for creating a connection between language, culture, and literacy.  Choose Multicultural Leveled Readers that feature aspects and language from various Latino cultures.  Leveled Readers focus on vocabulary development and typically include writing prompts and activities.  Lectura Books offers an Early Reader Series that features four levels with a total of 24 books. This series of readers are excellent for home use with EL students, as parents are learning side by side with their children.  

Listen To Culturally Appropriate Songs

Music is a fantastic way to create a connection between language, culture, and literacy. Find culturally appropriate songs and create lyric sheets, so that EL students can sing along to them while reading the lyrics.  You can include songs like “De Colores” by Joan Baez. Young children and parents alike can sing the Spanish and English versions of the song and make connections between both versions.
For more information regarding language, culture, and literacy among ELs and their families, visit our website at

Train Staff in Cultural Competency

Training staff to use culturally appropriate curriculum is key to engaging both students and parents. Parent Engagement for Title III requires the use of culturally engaging family literacy activities, but staff may not know how to go about doing that.
The Latino Family Literacy Project has more than two decades of experience with providing staff training for an award-winning parent engagement program. We can help to transform your school’s ELL parent outreach efforts for academic support!