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

How to learn another language – Part 2

Part 2: Receptive Skills – Reading and Listening

In part 1 of this series, 5 questions every language student should ask themselves, we looked at some ways you can stay motivated on your language journey. Now we will focus specifically on what you can do to improve your receptive skills (reading and listening). The lifelong language learning skills discussed in this article are aimed at intermediate level learners of any language, but these ideas can be adapted for lower or higher levels with a little bit of creativity.

First things first. Before anything can come out of your mouth in a new language, something has to go into your brain. If you have ever tried to learn another language, you might have noticed that to start with using your receptive skills was much easier than using your productive skills (speaking and writing).

Reading
Have you ever stopped and thought about how you read in your mother tongue? Now might be a good moment to do so. Did you realise that you probably don’t read every single word?

Notice what and how you read over the next 48 hours. Emails, text messaging, news articles, adverts, we speed read them all trying to get the general meaning and main points (skimming) or locating specific information like a time or an email address (scanning). Interestingly the skills we use when reading in our native language rarely transfer effortlessly into our new language. We have to consciously work on them.

How to read a news article:
1. Look at the headline and the pictures that accompany the text. Think about what you will read. What do you know about the subject already?
2. Skim the text quickly for general understanding. Were your predictions correct?
3. Read the text a second time, this time for detailed understanding. Scan for who, what, when, where and why.

That’s it, you’re done! You didn’t even need to read or comprehend every word to get a satisfying level of understanding. If you want to, you can take a minute to process the text for useful language. Underline words you want to look up, words you would like to use, synonyms etc.

Learning about text composition:
1. Find a newspaper article online that looks like it might be interesting to you. Don’t read it yet. Print it out.
2. Cut it up into paragraphs and mix them up.
3. Make yourself a cup of tea.
4. Read the headline/title. What does it make you think of? What do you already know about this topic?
5. Take some time to read some of the paragraphs (in any order), does what you read confirm some of your ideas from step 4?
6. Try and put the article back into the correct order. Think about what you would expect to read in the first and last paragraphs. Then fit in the middle ones.
7. Read it through from the beginning, does it read well? Do you want to change around any pieces?
8. Finally compare it to the original version online.

Tip: Look for links between paragraphs by asking yourself questions:
-Who (or what) are they talking about? Are they mentioned again?
-When did this happen? Are they talking about the past, present or the future? Do the tenses/time references match?
-Are there any connecting words (eg. But or however for contrast / furthermore or and for giving more information)

Listening
You can attack the listening skill in a similar way to reading. Note when and how you listen in your mother tongue. I listen a lot to the radio. But I don’t listen carefully to every word when the DJs are speaking. I tune in and out depending on whether the topic being discussed interests me. Or if I’m at a train station I prick up my ears when I hear my destination mentioned, but the rest of the time I don’t pay attention to the announcements. Can you apply the same listening techniques to your new language?

It’s a good idea to connect listening activities to habits you already have. I’m currently working on my Italian at the same time as taking a Dutch beginner course. To make sure I work on my listening skills in each language I have assigned a different language to regular activities. I listen to Dutch radio and my Dutch coursebook CD in the car. I listen to Italian radio when I’m hanging out at home. Unpleasant housework (washing up) is accompanied by podcasts from my favourite London radio station in my native tongue, English.

Have you ever tried watching TV in your new language? Maybe you can re-watch your favourite film or TV series. Make the most of the internet, there are plenty of free online resources that you can use to improve your receptive skills.

Try and apply these tips in the next week and see how you get on. Measure your progress (for some ideas on how to do that check out part 1 in this series). Tell me how it goes!

In part 3 we will cover how to work on those scary productive skills.

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

For information about English language courses in the South Holland area you can email me at info @ englishvoice .nl

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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.