The FIN inquiries also documented the power of validation. Developmental and second language learners are not empty vessels, waiting to be filled by their instructors. They have lives, responsibilities and values. They come from families and jobs which have given them a wealth of experiences. We found that when we recognize their values and experiences as valid (when we validate who they are), students would draw on these strengths to scaffold the self-confidence needed to sustain learning. Our knowledge about validating student experience was built by inquiry, as illustrated in the following project:
Skyline College – This team found that, in response to validating the use of home language with children, their ESL students began to express more pride and confidence in their bilingual status. Students began to see the importance of having positive feelings and strong skills in the home language. This simple step of valuing language raised the interest level of students immensely, causing them to pursue research topics in language and culture that they had never considered before, and using their own experiences as evidence.