How to help children learn to read in multiple languages

Should I teach my child to read in more than one language at the same time?

I am raising trilingual kids and my eldest will start learning to read in Dutch at school soon. He’s shown a lot of interest in reading at home. He often sits in during my classes so he’s already reading quite a lot in English. Italian in comparison to English is quite simple to read and so he’s been experimenting with that too.

However, when I spoke to his school teacher about his situation she advised us to stop teaching him to read in our home languages while he’s learning to read in Dutch. I trust his teacher, but I wanted to do some more research about how to support children in this situation.

Dr Ute Limacher-Riebold is a language consultant and specialises in helping families navigate this type of situation. We had a chat about this topic and recorded it, perhaps it will help your family too.

Watch it here:

How will this help your family? Let us know in the comments.

You can get in contact with Ute, check out her profile on our community page here: https://englishvoiceacademy.com/community/

Email to book English lessons here:

info @ English Voice Academy.com

How can I help my child who is struggling to read?

Find out what to do if your child doesn’t want to read. Let’s light the spark.

Guest Post by Louise Alexander

Reading is an important part of a child’s emotional and intellectual development. Time and again, research shows that children who enjoy reading have an easier time understanding and learning other academic subjects. It develops vocabulary, increases attention span, promotes analytical thinking – all skills that enrich our appreciation of the world.


But a love of reading doesn’t always come naturally and some children need a little encouragement. A reluctance to read is not uncommon and fortunately there are many strategies that we can use to motivate children to read, the most important one, of course, being keeping it fun!

What else can you do to help?
  • Set time aside to read aloud together every day. Reading and hearing stories helps children to master concepts such as logic, judgement and cause and effect. Special time reading with a parent will help them to make good associations with reading and books.
  • Make books and magazines visible everywhere in your home – on shelves, in baskets, or perhaps in a special cosy reading corner.
  • Help them find books that reflect their other interests, and let them choose what to read. Try lots of different genres, such as fiction and non-fiction, books, magazines or graphic novels. Sometimes reluctant readers find non-fiction books that they can easily dip in and out of more accessible.
  • Encourage everyday reading activities, like reading menus, recipes, road signs, the weather forecast or other practical information. This helps to develop reading skills in a non-intrusive way.
  • Talk to your children about what they are reading. Encourage their curiosity; what has piqued their interest and where can they find out more? What kind of activities are they inspired to try out?

The book boxes designed by A Pocketful Of Books encourage this curiosity and help kids find books that they really enjoy. Each box really brings the book to life with surprise gifts and a tailor-made magazine packed with fun facts and activities, all inspired by the book – from art and craft to brain teasers, experiments and more.

Website: https://www.apocketfulofbooks.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apocketfulofbooks

Call for Entries!

Contribute to our new journal, The English Voice Academy Press.

Let’s bring our community together

During these long grey winter days school remains closed. Parents are forced to invent ever new ways to keep their kids busy. Others live alone and have many hours to fill.

Would you welcome a small distraction? Would you like to see your name in print? Or is your little one a budding writer or artist?

My son and I have a newspaper project and would like to open it up to the English Voice community. Please join us! We’re welcoming submissions for the brand new English Voice Academy Press. Check out what we’re looking for below.

Submission information

We will accept any type of submission; poems, short stories, articles, recipes, photos or drawings.

The theme for this issue is: The Seasons

Anyone at any age is welcome to contribute to our new journal.

Guidelines:

  • Entries should be in English (mostly).
  • Entries should relate to the theme: The Seasons.
  • Texts should be maximum 500 words long.
  • We can only accept digital files.
  • This is a family journal, please make sure material is appropriate.
  • Your submission must be your own original work.
  • Anyone is welcome to submit something but we cannot promise to use everything.
  • Participation is free.
  • Submit your piece by the 7th February 2021 at the latest.

Send your entry or any questions by email to info @ EnglishVoiceAcademy .com

Digital copies of the journal will be ready to distribute the last week of February for free and a limited number of print copies will be available at cost.

5/2/21 Update:

We are very excited to have received some beautiful pieces of work for our newspaper. Now we are in the production phase and can’t wait to announce distribution by the end of February.

Make sure to sign up here to receive your digital copy:

Print copies can be ordered by emailing us here before the end of February 2021: info @ EnglishVoiceAcademy .com

Gift pack for pre-schoolers

Have You Heard of a Kuku Bird?

A great family quality time gift!

This winter season, snuggle up with your kids and enjoy a fun-filled storytime followed by a playful craft activity. Created in collaboration with Yoko at Collectionaise, this gift is designed for 2- 5 year olds to enjoy.

When you purchase this product, you will receive a happy post gift parcel which includes your copy of the Kuku Bird book, materials & instructions for the craft activity, and links to access two videos.

Sit back and enjoy the story about a Kuku Bird and complete the experience with a creative activity designed by Yoko. Your child will love transforming into his or her own Kuku Bird!

What’s in the box?

  • The original children’s book, Have You Heard of a Kuku Bird? (softcover, €11.99)
  • Video of me reading the book with my kids, join in with us and also sing along with Yellow Bird, a fun Caribbean calypso.
  • Video & printed tutorial “How to Craft Your Own Kuku Bird Mask”
  • Materials pack with everything you need to craft the above Kuku Bird mask
  • Delivery cost within the NL is also included in the price

about the book

Have You Heard of a Kuku Bird? is a children’s book that reminds us all to be cheerful, thoughtful and helpful. In a hidden valley full of nature and sunshine, there lives a flock of colourful Kuku birds. One morning, one of them wakes up to find the rest of the nests empty. Where have they gone? And what will this Kuku bird do? You and your child will love the colourful and vibrant artwork.

Pre-0rder your copy today and have loads of fun with your little one during the school holidays!

Order here: Collectionaise.com

Online Storytime is back!

During the springtime when the Netherlands first went into lockdown, closing the schools and childcare, we started a new class for pre-schoolers – Online Storytime. 

It was so fun to spend time with you online and see your little people joining in, showing us their toys and singing nursery rhymes. My kids loved it too.

I’m very happy to announce that we’re bringing it back!

Online Storytime
We’ll read beautiful books from our family library, most probably those in our extensive Julia Donaldson collection.
Your kids will hear rhyme which is very important for learning to read.
We’ll sing together. Each week I’ll send you the link to a video of us singing the nursery rhyme so you and your child(ren) can prepare and learn the song. 
At the end we can have a little chat and your children can show us their toys (as time allows).

When: Wednesdays at 4pm for 30 minutes (starting Wednesday 18th November)
Where: Online via Zoom
For who: 2-5 year olds – although slightly younger or older kids will find this fun too
How much: €15 per family, all siblings welcome 
Payment and conditions: I will send you a tikkie or invoice for 4 lessons, you can use them over 5 weeks. No minimum attendance, class always goes ahead. There are no lessons during school holidays.
How to enroll: Send us an email at: info @ englishvoice.nl

Join us and get your little one(s) started with English! 

The multilingual child’s stages of speech

When a child grows up in a multilingual environment they are given the key to a wonderful new and rich world. But this world can be challenging at times. Parents might worry when their children don’t start to speak when expected in one or all of their languages.

Understanding the stages that a child goes through before speaking will help parents to evaluate at what point in their development their child is and whether there is any need for worry or action.

Stage 1: The Silent Period

This is an important stage that should not be rushed. Infants are able to understand a lot before they can speak any words and their ability to comprehend should not be underestimated. In fact they always understand much more than they are able to produce in words.

During this stage toddlers take time to observe, hypothesise and test their understanding of vocabulary.  They might even be making an effort to communicate with you non-verbally. Note that this stage lasts much longer for some children and it is very important not to compare or measure their progress with other children*. Remember every child is different. If a child prioritises movement they might focus on learning to walk over learning to speak. They cannot possibly work on everything they need to learn in life at the same time.

Introducing baby sign language during this stage can be a huge support for families and act as a bridge between the languages baby is exposed to.

Stage 2: Beginning to talk

In this exciting stage infants are beginning to attempt sounds and then words. For example, the word milk might come out first as ‘muh’ or ‘mimi’, evolving into ‘milk’ as they gain more command of their speech muscles and increase in confidence.

Perhaps you’ll hear them trying out some statements that they have memorised exactly as they heard them. ‘That’s a dog’. ‘Let’s go home’.

This stage can last a very long time and overlap with stage 3 as they continue to build up their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge.

Stage 3: Building up language

During this stage children start to modify memorised statements and create their own sentences. ‘Time to go home’ might become ‘time to play’ or ‘potty time’.

With continued parental support, high quality and frequent exposure to each language you can be sure your child will continue to progress on their journey of becoming multilingual.

Note: One language can dominate over another. It’s possible that both languages develop at the same speed. Or that your child doesn’t seem to attempt speech in any language. All these scenarios are considered normal and not a cause for worry.

*If you are worried about the rate of your child’s development it is important to seek out the appropriate support from a professional. If the problem is related to their speech I strongly suggest finding a therapist that is experienced in working with multilingual children because they are known to progress and develop differently to monolingual children.

If you would like to receive more information like this please sign up to my email list (see the form in the side bar) so that you never miss another article.

I organise workshops and language courses for infants and children in Delft, South Holland, in an effort to support them and their families on the long rocky beautiful road of multilingualism. Please get in touch (info @ englishvoice .nl) to get up to date information on when and where the next workshop will be.

For more information about infant communication:

Connect with me and other families using Baby Sign Language in our Facebook Group. You are very welcome to join us!

Get your copy of my free guide: Your baby can communicate with you before they can speak

5 tips to help your child love reading

Here at English Voice we take reading seriously. We think it should be seriously fun!

Unfortunately reading often becomes hard work, especially when approached academically and with targets in mind. So how can we help children to really love reading from the start?

  • Start young – Make board books available for your baby. Black and white and bold images with plenty of contrast are attractive to even the smallest infants. Tactile books will keep them busy discovering new textures. They will learn what books are and how they work. Let them hold them and taste them. Consider fabric books and waterproof books that are easily cleaned.
  • Make books accessible – Try and get as many books as possible for your child. It’s true, they can be expensive, but you can sign up to the local library (in most places children join for free and in some places libraries have a welcome gift pack for newborns with a couple of books inside), think about swapping books with your kid’s friends and check if you can get them second hand in your area.
  • Make it fun – Reading should be for pleasure or children will soon refuse to read. Pick books with topics that your child is interested in, better yet let them choose. Encourage them to read at anytime, not just bedtime. Even when kids are able to read by themselves, they benefit a lot from their parents reading to them. It’s a wonderful time to connect and bond.
  • Engage your child – Stop and look at the pictures together. It’s easy to get into the habit of asking your child lots of questions ‘where’s the dog?’, ‘what’s this?’ but don’t let it become an interrogation. You can also describe the pictures, your little one could be exposed to new vocabulary that way. Ask them open conversation questions, ‘which bit of the story did you like the best?’. Encourage them to make predictions, ‘what do you think will happen next?’, or express any other observations they have.
  • Be an example – Show them that reading is important by actively reading yourself. Let them see what you like to read, tell them what the book is about and share what you learn with them. This is a huge motivation for kids, they want to be like mum and dad.

What has helped you encourage reading in your family? Your tips might help others to improve in this area and have more fun with their children!

English Voice organises reading lessons for small children, from around 4 years old, using the Oxford Reading Tree series published by Oxford University Press and used in 80% of primary schools in the UK. For more information please get in touch at (info  @  englishvoice.nl)

For more useful information like this, please sign up for our mailing list using the form in the side bar on the right.