Reading – 10 benefits of reading to your child in the minority language

-“Stuck! Stuck!” Demanded my youngest over dinner a few days ago.
-“Oomph! Not again!” I bemoaned to myself, cursing my latest book purchase’s success. “Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers is my latest purchase as part of my monthly resources shopping for my daughters. It was recommended by blogger Christina Reid on her great Chrikaru Blog that I follow.  This book has been a hit with both my almost 6 and 2 year olds. And as you probably already know, when kids like something – especially a book- they never get enough of it!  To tell you the truth, as my youngest insisted, I felt tempted to turn down her book choice -especially as I had already read it at lunchtime to my eldest, and every evening before that!. But then I remembered the impact reading has on our children.

If for a monolingual child exposure to reading is important, for a bilingual child it is twice as crucial. With every read, they absorb the vocabulary, but also the sentence structure, pronunciation, intonation and more. I remembered how my eldest had learnt off by heart Julia Donaldson’s “The Gruffalo” after having “binge” listened to the audiobook.
The other day, on our way home, my eldest surprised me using the word “the earth” when referring to our planet. It was the first time she ever did. And the penny dropped in my mind: she had picked this word from another Oliver Jeffer’s book purchased with “Stuck”, “Here we are”.

Reflecting on the topic, I managed to come up with a non-exhaustive list of benefits of reading the same book over and over again (who would have known, hey? 🙂 ):

  1. It creates a drill – my eldest daughter’s nursery school relies on a lot of drills to teach the alphabet and counting. So reading the same book over and over again is tantamount to such drill with the book’s content!
  2. It fosters vocabulary building – not only do children hear new words, but they also hear them in context, and can learn them by participating in their repetition throughout the story.
  3. It creates exposure to the minority language – this is much broader than just vocabulary building. It encompasses accents, pronunciation, the melody of the language, listening comprehension…
  4. It sets the example of reading and bolsters the child’s love for books – a very important habit to pass on, and most importantly to our little bilingual monkeys.
  5. It sets the example of how to read – the pace, the pauses, the intonations,…
  6. It develops the child’s deduction skills – by the child inferring the meaning of new words from their context.
  7. It helps the child to understand the story – do you remember when you were a child of re-reading a book and finally understanding some of its details? Children are in a continuous learning process, and they need that repetition to sometimes grasp every detail of a story.
  8. It encourages family discussions – by discussing the book, asking them what they think is going to happen or what they liked best/least, the child is invited to reflect and analyse as well as putting into practice their minority language skills!
  9. It is a family quality-time – who could object to that?! 😉
  10. It is probably the easiest and most fun way to learn their minority language.

So whenever you are asked to read that same book for the zillionth time, do not feel weary: it is actually a good sign that your child is soaking up your minority language!

Tips:

  1. When translating a Majority Language book to the minority language, or narrating a wordless book, I like to stick to the same words as much as possible so as to help my daughters to learn that vocabulary through its repetitive use time after time, with each reading of the book.
  2. With every read of the same book, I pick on 1 different word I suspect my eldest daughter does not know and ask her what it means. When she does not know, I explain it to her. This creates an extra learning opportunity for her. However, I strongly recommend to stick to only 1 word with every reading so as not to turn the storytelling into a boring lesson for your child.
Advertisements

3 Comments

  1. I’ve really upped my reading since i discovered Adam’s book. I think it’s an important mind shift to think of the importance of reading the same book over and over. Instead of feeling bored I’m now realising how important it is. My daughter’s favourites are currently a box set by Oliver James – como atrapar una estrella, perdido y encontrado (which she called wiwi triste) and regreso a casa. I’ve also made it a mission to increase our selection of minority language books. Our house is starting to resemble a library!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.