Category Archives: Schools

Learning Foreign Languages: 5 Reasons Why a Small Amount of Language Exposure Is Beneficial

Research abounds about the benefits of bilingualism: the more exposure to languages from as early an age as possible is the best. Being that our brains are still growing and developing rapidly when we are young, multiple languages can be assimilated as seamlessly as a single language at this age. Some research even goes as far as defining optimal age limits within which languages should be learned for greatest benefits, primarily for picking up a native-like accent. However, experts enthusiastically agree that it is never too late to learn a language and to learn it well.

Not all children will have the opportunity to be exposed to multiple languages in their childhood. They may not grow up with parents who speak another language at home. They may not have the benefits of attending a bilingual school. However, just because our children may not benefit from delayed Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that even a small amount of language exposure isn’t beneficial in a number of ways. In fact, the small amount of language and cultural exposure children receive in their early years may have the most lasting impact.

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5 Tips to Help Bilingual Children Shine in the Classroom

Back-to-school sales line the aisles of supermarkets and drug stores; children roam department stores picking out new fall clothes; and parents rush around with check-lists of items their children will need in the coming weeks and months.

Yes, the school year is about to begin.

For bilingual children, this time of year may feel a little daunting, especially for those who will be starting school for the very first time. In addition to all of the feelings that many students face on their first day of school (nervousness about what the teacher may be like, excitement about meeting new friends, concerns about what will be expected), bilingual children may have additional worries: Will they fit it? Will their English language skills be up to par. Will they understand everything that the teacher says? Will other students make fun of them because of their accent?

For teachers who are not used to working with bilingual children, there may be an assumption that to help these bilingual children feel comfortable in the classroom they will need extra attention. This may very well be the case, but if it is not done with care it can backfire. A bilingual child who already feels out of place may feel even more so if a teacher ends up giving him too much special attention. What a bilingual child may want the most is to have the chance to fit in and to be just like everyone else, not singled out due to special circumstances.

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Bilingual Books: Read Them Out Loud!

Long before our children have learned to read they will have been exposed to the magic of books. Stories of pixies and trolls, adventure and suspense will have filled their minds with fascination and beauty. We can probably still remember moments snuggled on the sofa as our parents read out loud to us. Magical story lines blossomed before our eyes.

When we were young, so much depended on the way an adult read out loud to us: the eerie intonation of a goblin, the gentle melody of a fairy, the loud rumble of a dragon’s roar. Even though we savored every word in the story, how we were read to made all of the difference. The more our parents or teachers took on the role of the characters, the more captivated we became. The more involved they were in the story, the more it came to life for us.

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Bilingual Books in Multicultural Lesson Plans

Reading bilingual books with bilingual children can be a wonderful way to help expand comprehension and vocabulary in more than one language. As you read in Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children, children who can read the same story in more than one language reap many benefits. For example, they can transfer their comprehension and vocabulary of a story read in a stronger language to comprehension and vocabulary in a weaker language.

To help children strengthen their literacy skills even further, bilingual books can be incorporated into lesson plans for teachers to utilize in their classrooms and parents in their homes. Lesson plans provide targeted discussion topics and activities that can help make biliteracy fun and engaging for children. Continue reading Bilingual Books in Multicultural Lesson Plans

Support Early Childhood Literacy in International Preschool Classroom

We’d like to share with you a great opportunity to support early childhood literacy and language development to children in need with bilingual books and educational supplies!

Our friends at Give and Surf Inc. are starting a preschool for ages 3-5 in Bocas del Toro, Panama.  The preschool will be educating children from the indigenous Ngobe villages of this underserved area. Their preschool will be the first of its kind in the area.

We all know the importance of early reading for children, and Give and Surf is currently collecting books and any supplies necessary to start the preschool.  They have an empty classroom and an open canvas to build the ideal preschool!  The children of Bahia Honda have had limited exposure to books and would benefit greatly from any support. Continue reading Support Early Childhood Literacy in International Preschool Classroom

Bilingual Children Benefit from Summer Foreign Language Programs

Whether bilingual children speak both of their languages well or are in the process of learning a second language, summer foreign language programs can be a great way to help them become more comfortable in their languages. Without the need to focus on daily schoolwork, summer provides a wonderful opportunity for bilingual children to experience a daily language bath without the pressure of assessment.

The key is to find a program that works well for your child. The first step is to get an idea of what a child’s strengthens and weaknesses are in the target language before beginning a search for a summer foreign language program. This will help in deciding which program might be the best fit. A child who is struggling with reading and writing would likely benefit most from a summer program that incorporates as much literacy as possible in fun and engaging ways. For a child who is having difficulties with pronunciation or general communication, a summer program that focuses on verbal elements would be preferable. The overall goal is to help a bilingual child feel more comfortable in the target language and to boost overall language confidence. Continue reading Bilingual Children Benefit from Summer Foreign Language Programs

10 Ways to Use Bilingual Books with Children

Research continues to show that support for the home language is an essential element in supporting children’s academic skills. Parents who engage with their children in their home language through discussion, reading books out loud and in everyday activities help children to do better in school, even if the school language is different from the home language. This is in contrast to research many decades ago that encouraged parents to speak the community language at home with their children, believing this would strengthen their children’s academic language skills. We now know that this past research was flawed and that, in fact, the opposite is true.

Bilingual books are wonderful tools to help create a bridge between languages. They give teachers the opportunity to educate children in the school language, while at the same time they foster an appreciation for the home language. Bilingual books encourage parents to continue using their home language, knowing that it will benefit, not detract from, their children’s school language learning. Continue reading 10 Ways to Use Bilingual Books with Children

A Child’s Place in the World – PART II: Using dual language books to initiate social studies learning at home and at school

By guest author: Heather Leaman

Schools and families have acknowledged the importance of extending children’s learning beyond an understanding of our country to include an understanding of the world. While social studies is an ideal school subject to help children understand the world around them, many schools have significantly reduced their social studies instruction due in part to the influence of No Child Left Behind.

However, reducing class time for social studies instruction does not mean that teachers must eliminate instruction about our world for elementary school children. There are outstanding tools available for teaching social studies in tandem with instruction in reading, writing and math. In addition, there are many activities parents and families can engage in at home to supplement their children’s social studies education. Dual language books are an ideal example of a tool that can be used to introduce children to their world and to initiate deeper learning. Continue reading A Child’s Place in the World – PART II: Using dual language books to initiate social studies learning at home and at school

A Child’s Place in the World – PART I: Using dual language books as a tool for teaching social studies in elementary school

By guest author: Heather Leaman

Elementary schools in the United States typically use the expanding environments approach to teach social studies in grades K-5. Under this curriculum plan, children learn about self and family in Kindergarten and first grade. In second and third grade, children learn about neighborhood and community. As they progress through the upper elementary grades, children expand their understanding of the world by learning about states and the nation.

During the past decade, the National Council for Social Studies has suggested that children’s learning be extended beyond our country to include an understanding of the world. Publishing companies have responded to this initiative by creating materials that help children learn about themselves in relation to the world. Using this worldview, students in primary grades learn about families, neighborhoods and communities globally. In upper elementary grades, children learn about their state and nation in relation to other states and other countries. This movement provides children the opportunity to connect to their world. Continue reading A Child’s Place in the World — PART I: Using dual language books as a tool for teaching social studies in elementary school