Summertime is upon us! The school year is coming to an end and our favorite summer activities are right around the corner: Running barefoot through sprinklers, savoring a neon-colored snow cone and sitting in the shade of a favorite tree with a good book. What could be better?
Even though school is letting out, children can strengthen their literacy skills with summertime literacy programs, available through local libraries, community centers, schools, bookstores and even online. Bilingual children, in particular, can significantly improve their literacy during the summer by reading bilingual books in both of their languages.
As we mentioned in our previous article, literacy can grow and develop regardless of language. The most important thing is that bilingual children are provided with quality reading materials and an incentive to read them. Instilling a love of reading should always be the primary goal for our students.
Here is a list of programs that can help students strengthen their literacy skills this summer:
Continue reading Bilingual Children & Summer Literacy Programs
The benefits of bilingualism has been a hot topic in recent years. Magazines, newspapers and blogs extol the fascinating ways in which the bilingual brain effortlessly manipulates more than one language at a time, working more effectively and efficiently than a monolingual one on specific types of tasks.
Thanks to their brain’s more robust executive control system (which comes from switching off the language that is not needed), bilinguals are believed to have better skills in tuning out distractions, which means that they are able to focus on what is most relevant at the moment. This can be a very important life skill. In addition, Prof. Ellen Bialystok discovered through her research on bilinguals that bilingualism helped those with Alzheimer’s continue functioning at higher cognitive levels despite having this debilitating disease. Basically, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in bilinguals didn’t show up for five or six years later than those who only spoke one language. Another indication of the robustness of the bilingual brain.
While this research is exciting and inspiring, we also need to make sure that we are careful about how we introduce young children to additional languages. Using a grammar book with a young child may not be the way to go and can even cause a child to never want to learn another language ever again – even though that same strategy may be effective for a teenager or an adult.
Continue reading Teaching Children Languages: Benefits & Strategies
October is here which means it is time to focus on celebrating bilingual children!
Although we know that childhood bilingualism is fabulous and fantastic, it feels as if many in this country haven’t yet come to realize this (let alone celebrate it).
When it comes to bilingual children, words such as worry and concern are often used: “We are concerned that the bilingual children in this country won’t learn English, especially if their parents speak to them in their heritage languages at home.” We hear the word funding all the time: “The funding for our dual language learning program is being cut – yet again!” And, of course, the words motivate, encourage and inspire are key when it comes to bilingual children: “What can I do to motivate bilingual families to keep using their language(s) at home?”
But what about the word celebrate? When was the last time we called out: “Let’s celebrate bilingualism!”
Continue reading Celebrate The Bilingual Child Month!