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.
Continue reading Learning Foreign Languages: 5 Reasons Why a Small Amount of Language Exposure Is Beneficial
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.
Continue reading Bilingual Books: Read Them Out Loud!
Summer is such a wonderful time for children: playing with neighbors in the sprinkler, splashing with friends at the local pool, eating popsicles on the back porch. Summertime freedom is expansive and overwhelming.
The downside of summer for many teachers, especially those teaching English Language Learners (ELLs), is that they often worry that all of the hard work that their students put in during the school year will decline during the summer months. Without daily input of spoken and written language, a student often starts to forget what she has learned and ends up working hard to get back on track in the fall. However, this need not be the case.
There is no reason why literacy has to be put on hold during the summer months with bilingual children. In fact, summer is a perfect time to give home and school languages the undivided attention they deserve. Without the need to focus on homework and after school activities, bilingual children and parents can have a wonderful time with literacy. It doesn’t take a lot of work. It just demands a good set of resources to work with and the willingness to follow through. Continue reading Keep Literacy Alive for Bilingual Children During the Summer
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
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