Raising a bilingual child is not as easy as just having one parent speak one language and the parent the other language. Of course that does help. Exposure to both languages is a good start. It will only be passive though if you don’t do this next step.
One of the key methods you need to take if you want your children to be bilingual is to insist that they use the non-dominant language. In our case the non-dominant language is English. Everytime the children want something I insist they have to communicate with me in English to get it. If the want milk they have to ask in English. If they want me to play with them they have to ask in English. Since they want it then they will use English. You have to be consistent though. If they think you’ll give up then they won’t bother using English.
How to insist though? First you need to know what you expect them to say. For example: this week we were teaching “Please pass the yellow pen.” This phrase can be used it lots of different situations. When your child asks you for some milk or some chopsticks, you can ask them to say it in English. If they look at you blankly then you say what you want them to say: “Please pass me some chopsticks.” “Please pass me the milk.” etc.
That is just one example. You can use everyday English phrases in your home to help make English as part of their life as their first language.
Using little phrases that we learn in class at home helps the children remember what they’ve learnt and makes English a natural part of their life.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about learning a language is?
I’ve been learning Japanese on and off for most of my life. I have been learning Russian on and off for two years. The thing I find hardest about studying a language is not the grammar, not the vocabulary, not finding someone to practice with, it is self studying. It is sitting down and studying. I can do it in bursts but I have never been able to consistently self study. This could just be me but I am certain that everyone has this problem with language learning.
There are plenty of books and applications that promise to solve this problem. They claim to have found the way for you to learn a language by yourself. There is a bigger difficulty at work here though. Every person has a different way of learning. What is successful for you is not necassarily successful for me. That is why we entrust teachers to help us to study. It is the teacher’s role to figure out who we are and how we learn. If you want to be a good teacher you have to learn who your students are and what helps them learn. For example, I am the type of student who needs someone to tell me why I am doing something. As soon as I know why, I will do it without question and succeed. If I do not know the answer to that question I will never get anywhere. That is just one way of learning. If you have a class of thirty people you have to figure out how those thirty people learn. That sounds challenging but there will be a lot of overlap and the students will appreciate your efforts to try different ways of presenting information to them. As my mentor once said, “when you realise one person is stuggling, design a lesson around that one person and then give that lesson to the whole class because chances are there are others that need that help too.”
If you want to be a successful student you should figure out what your learning style is and build your own learning program around that style.
With that said; what’s your learning style? And for the teachers out there what are your students learning styles and what do you do to help them learn that way.
Peppa Pig is a long running TV show which I also recommend to English language learners as each episode is only about five minutes and it’s easy to understand the story. The actors are also all well spoken, so if you follow their pronunciation then you will do well for yourself.
Enough about the TV show. This article is to talk about the ladybird reader series’ adaption of the peppa pig episodes. I recommend these books for a number of reasons. First, you can read the book and then watch the episode of TV. It’s a great way to help second language learners follow the spoken English. Second, The ladybird reader series always includes a picture dictionary of the words in the book to help your child or student learn how to read that word. Third, peppa pig’s design and storylines are enjoyable for children. I am yet to meet a child who isn’t taken in but the character design or the storytelling.
The Ladybird reader series is good in general. It also includes a range of fairytale adaptions and other famous stories. Since it is a reader series it means that they have leveled the language used. Starting from level one you can quickly build up your reading skills. In addition, ladybird publishing also offers a lot of teaching resources to go along with this series so if you are a teacher you can safe yourself a lot of time and effort.
Do your children want to know how everything works? This is the book for you.
Usborne publishing’s book See Inside How Things Work is a fantastic book for helping your child understand how daily objects work. It focuses on five simple inventions that can be found in almost every invention: the wheel, the screw, the wedge, the lever and the inclined plane. Each page is dedicated to a different group of inventions including waterworks; musical instruments; cars and trucks; and flying to name a few. The book does a fantastic job of explaining how simple machines work to make complex systems.
The book is aimed at ages six and older which means that the language is quite simple but can entertain much older children as well. I have personally used this book in my kindergarten and elementary school classes to great success. While they may have only understood half the words they simple diagrams and wording meant they could still get a feel for what was being said. Even the older children learnt things they did not know.
The book is part of a larger series called lift-the-flap books. The whole series covers a wide range of non-fiction and fictional topics. If your children wants to know how something works there is a book in this series for them. With over one hundred and fifty books ranging from space, your body, and dinosaurs to the water cycle, jobs, and the Roman empire.
The books are easy to access aimed mostly at children from the age of 5 but have enough information information to easily keep older children entertained. This also means that the book is appropriate for English language learners too.
If you want to spark your children’s curiosity. Or if your child is already curious about the world and asks a lot of why questions this book and perhaps the whole series is for you.
The oxford reading tree is a fantastic reading resource for kindergarten to the end of elementary school. The series follows Chip, Biff and Kipper’s family. Most of the stories are short everyday family events with a little joke at the end. The humour is British humour so I have often had my students puzzled by the joke but they always want to read more. The early stages of the series are very repetitive and easy to read. This helps build the students confidence as they recognise the reading pattern for the story. Parents who don’t have much English ability but still want their children to learn english can read these to their kids without much difficulty. As the levels get higher there are more sentences added progressing the students’ reading naturally.
There are a lot of additional resources for teachers. My favourite extra is that you can get the series in big book format for a reasonable price. This makes for a good in class reading activity. You can get reading packs for a reasonable price. Or you can bulk the first six books from each level in two batches: