Want your child to learn a second language, but wondering if it will be worth the time and effort? Kids’ schedules are already full of school and extracurricular activities, so parents must be selective when taking on anything new. Read on for some compelling reasons why bilingualism is definitely worth the effort.Continue reading The Many Benefits of Bilingualism
We are thrilled to announce a brand new bilingual children’s book! Mungo Makes New Friends is sure to be a hit with the kids in your classroom and family.
Mungo Makes New Friends
Mungo Makes New Friends is a story about an old horse who, at first, is quite lonely on his own. He has seen better days, and thinks there isn’t much to look forward to. One by one, Mungo and the reader are introduced to brand new animal friends. However, when winter comes, and Mungo must move into the stable, what will happen to his newfound friendships?Continue reading Mungo Makes New Friends: New Bilingual Book!
Language Lizard and our colleagues at Mantra Lingua UK were honored to support a recent charity initiative of eClinicalWorks, to provide literacy materials to thousands of dual language families in Tennessee. Continue reading Charitable Program Provides Bilingual Books in Spanish, Arabic and Kurdish to Language Learners
Across the country, more schools are embracing fluency in multiple languages by offering a special award called the “Seal of Biliteracy” that can be earned by bilingual students. Continue reading The “Seal of Biliteracy” in Schools Across the Country
What kind of people are most likely to be bilingual? What motivates them, and what benefits of bilingualism do they enjoy? Whether you’re bilingual, in the process of learning, or just curious about learning a new language, you’ll want to check out these interesting stats regarding bilingualism in the US.
The US is a country of many languages. In public schools, about 10 percent (4.5 million) of all kids are English Language Learners (ELLs). Of those ELLs, Spanish is the first language of about 71 percent, but there are hundreds of different languages spoken in US schools. Any one school can have a dozen or more languages spoken by its students.
Schools put different types of learning programs in place to help students transition to speaking English. One example is sheltered instruction, which combines English language development strategies with content area instruction.
American schools typically offer five categories of English language programs. The programs offered at any given school or district depend on school demographics, student characteristics, and available resources. The US Department of Education provides resources to educators working with ELL and foreign born students, such as the Newcomer Toolkit.
Check out the graphic below to learn more about ELL learning in the US. To find diverse children’s books in many languages to support literacy among ELLs, feel free to browse the Language Lizard website.
(Graphic included with permission from Gergich & Co.)
by guest blogger Karen Nemeth EdM
Cognates are pairs of words that sound alike and have the same meaning in two different languages. They are useful first steps in learning a new language.
How Do Cognates Work?
In English we say “elephant” and in Spanish we say “elefante.” English and Spanish speakers can easily make the connection between these cognates to learn and remember the animal’s name. In English, we say “frog” but in Spanish we say “rana.” Frog and rana are not cognates, and the lack of connection means learners will find those words harder to use and remember. We know that people need to use their new language to really learn it. Cognates make it possible for language learners at any age to use their new words right away. By starting with the cognate words, a learner can build their vocabulary and gain the confidence to add more words in their new language.
Find Cognates in Your Target Language
Spanish and English share hundreds of cognates and have borrowed from each other for centuries. There are also many cognates that connect German to English, such as “mouse” and “maus”. Other languages, like Chinese and Arabic, have fewer cognates with English words. Lists of cognate words in different languages can be found online. I created a resource for Spanish-English cognates in preschool and kindergarten called Language Castle Cognate Guide. It has user-friendly lists of simple cognates in the different educational domains to support early learning. Other cognate resources can be found at colorincolorado.org. Bilingual children’s books, or matching books in two or more languages, can also be great resources to find vocabulary connections.
Learning Activities Using Cognates
Research shows that teachers and families can help children learn a new language successfully when they use cognates to explain the meanings of words in conversations and stories. Look for examples of cognates to support the language learners you work with. Use the pairs of words to help children understand the characters, stories and facts in books. Plan activities around the cognates you have found. Add cognates to familiar songs. Use cognates in puppet shows or pretend play to give children more opportunities to practice and use the words. Highlight cognates on word walls or classroom dictionaries. Plan science and math lessons that use cognates to strengthen children’s comprehension. Building connections through cognates is a sure path to success.
Read more about what experts are saying about the importance of using cognates to build second language learning:
August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C. and Snow, C. (2005) The Critical Role of Vocabulary Development for English Language Learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20: 50–57
Collins, M.F. (2010) ELL preschoolers’ English vocabulary acquisition from storybook reading, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(1), 84-97
Gillanders, C. & Castro, D.C. (2011) Storybook reading for young dual language learners, Young Children, January 2011, 91-95
Lugo-Neris, M.J., Jackson, C.W., Goldstein, H (2008) Facilitating Vocabulary Acquisition of Young English Language Learners, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41, 314-327
Pérez, A.M., Peña, E.D., & Bedore, L.M. (2010) Cognates facilitate young Spanish-English bilinguals’ test performance, Early Childhood Services, 4(1), 55-67
Wallace, Christopher, (2007) Vocabulary: The Key to Teaching English Language Learners to Read, Reading Improvement, 44.4 , 189-193
Be sure to check out languagecastle.com, Karen Nemeth’s website that offers a wealth of resources for anyone who teaches young children who speak different languages.
This blog post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!
Teachers want to make children feel valued and comfortable from the day they arrive at school. One of the first things a child or caregiver will notice when they enter a new classroom is the way it looks. Imagine if one of the first things a child sees is a poster that says “Welcome” in different languages, including their own! Or if they are greeted with “Hello” in different languages!
Newcomers who do not speak English well, and children from different cultural backgrounds, may not feel they fit in if they see only the English language and American imagery on the walls. If these children instead see their culture represented, they will feel more welcome and acknowledged.
Here are some other items that can be displayed in classrooms to create a welcoming environment:
- Flags from around the world
- Multilingual posters depicting themes the class will be studying (e.g. weather, animals, food, shapes, transportation, etc)
- Photos and artwork depicting people from different countries
- Famous landmarks around the world
- Signs showing areas of the classroom in different languages
- Artwork from students representing their culture or home country.
To help you decorate your multicultural classroom (or library), we are offering a special discount on our NEW multilingual poster 3-pack during the month of April 2017. This set of 3 posters lets you display Hello, Thank You and Welcome in different languages. Each poster includes over 30 different languages! The discount is available online – no coupon code required.
The following languages are included on some or all of the posters: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Cantonese / Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, Fulani, Gaelic, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luganda, Malayalam, Nepali, Norwegian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Romani, Romanian, Romany, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Turkish, Twi, Ukranian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and Yoruba.
If you are interested in other multilingual posters, with varied themes, please visit the Multilingual Posters, Teaching Cards & World Maps page on our website.
In a previous article, we offered tips to get you started in terms of choosing the right bilingual baby books, making dedicated reading time and reading with enthusiasm. In this post, we would like to offer some of our favorite bilingual books for babies and toddlers.
In a recent interview published in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Casey Lew-Williams, co-director of the Princeton Baby Lab and Princeton assistant professor of psychology, discussed research regarding how young children learn and communicate, and how this supports their development. Lew-Williams mentions that quality of speech comes first, and then quantity. In other words, it’s not important to talk all the time; even when playing with a young child, you’re interacting with them and exposing them to language, often in creative and meaningful ways.
In terms of reading to babies and young children, he says: “Reading is another fantastic way to expose a child to language. Ideally you’re not just reading the pages in a book. You’re pausing to engage with the child: How does this relate to his or her life? Children’s books are more diverse in terms of vocabulary and grammar than speech. So there’s an extra value to reading, because it gets parents outside their own natural tendencies or conversational topics and into the language and ideas of an author.”
Our Favorite Bilingual Books for Babies and Toddlers
The Wheels on the Bus
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Row, Row, Row Your Boat… If You’re Happy and You Know It… Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Walking Through the Jungle
One of the most popular ways to raise a child bilingually is by using the OPOL approach – One Person, One Language. It seems to be one of the easiest ways for children to distinguish between languages, because they become aware that they should speak a different language with different people.
Using our family as an example: I am a native English speaker and my husband is a native Italian speaker. We live in Italy and both speak each other’s language, however not to a native level. We have two children aged two and four years old. We have spoken with our children in our own native languages from the start to give them the best chance of becoming bilingual early on.
OPOL vs MLAH approach with language exposure
MLAH (Minority Language at Home) is another common approach to raising bilingual children. This is where one language is spoken within the home, and the other out in the community. With this approach, both languages seem to have the same amount of exposure.
With the OPOL approach, most of the time one language is lacking in exposure, the minority language. Therefore, it is extremely important that the parent who speaks the minority language sticks to it quite strictly to make it work. It is not always as easy as it sounds.
We live in Italy, the community language is Italian, therefore I am the only exposure to English my children have. It would be quite easy for me to switch to the community language, however I never speak with my children in Italian, only English. It can be quite difficult sometimes in public. There are some people who stare, or ask why I am speaking English with them when we live in an Italian community. I try my best to make my children feel comfortable enough to speak back with me in English, no matter where we are, and who we are with.
Consistency plays a key role in the language learning process
If parents are not consistent using only one language speaking to their child, there is a risk that your child will become confused. Although my husband and I mix languages between ourselves, we speak ONLY our native languages with our children. They learned from very early on, who they should speak with, in which language. They know they are expected to respond to us in the language we speak with them. They are so used to it now in fact, that if I “joke” and say something in Italian, they usually laugh at me and get embarrassed because it doesn’t seem right.
Yes, it can be difficult when having family conversations
Using the OPOL approach means conversations at home can become quite “interesting” at times. With each parent speaking a different language, the children are forced to mix between languages in one conversation.
When we are eating a meal together or playing together as a family at home, there is a mix between Italian and English spoken between us all. The one thing that stays consistent though, is that when addressing my children I only speak English, and my husband only Italian, even if we speak a mix of the languages with each other.
If we are with other Italian family members who do not speak English, I stay consistent speaking with my children in English, even if others cannot understand what I am saying. This is where consistency can become difficult, as some people can feel like they are left out of the conversation. When this is the case, I sometimes translate for them, what I have said to my child.
What about adding a third language?
The OPOL approach can also work when raising your children with three languages, it just means a “third person.” Our children are learning Spanish as a third language. We have a “playmate” named Ana who comes to spend time with them. Before she started, we explained our family situation and she has been following the same approach. She speaks only Spanish with our children, and they are expected to respond in Spanish just as they do with us in English and Italian. It was quite amazing watching them take to it so easily.
Is OPOL the only way to go?
Of course this approach isn’t for every family. Before deciding on an approach to follow with your children, it is best to assess your situation, what languages are spoken, by whom, and to which level. Then work out your family language goal choosing an approach to suit.
If OPOL works for you then that’s great. If not, you can always use it as a good foundation and adapt the approach to suit your family goals.
Chontelle Bonfiglio is an Australian mother of two bilingual children. She is a certified ESL Teacher, Blogger, and Creator of Bilingual Kidspot, a website for parents raising bilingual or multilingual children.
Help your children build literacy in more than one language with bilingual books for kids available at Language Lizard!