Captive Reading Ideas – Minority Language Quiz

If your child enjoys quizzes, and is a curious learner who does not frown too much upon language exercises in his/her school textbooks, this new idea of captive reading might be of interest to you.

Just before we went on holiday, I have put up some little quizzes based on language exercises for both of my daughters.  Obviously adapted to their capacities: English exercises for my eldest, and English phonics exercises for my youngest.

At the time, I was trying to have my eldest work on English homophones. So I began introducing homophone differentiation exercises on her little whiteboard in the bathroom. I picked two pairs of homophones, on the left of the board I wrote each of the words, and on the right I drew their illustration in a different order to that of the words. My daughter had to draw a line between their corresponding illustration and word.

She enjoyed that little quiz, and it contributed to going over what we had seen in our minority language activity time. And as you know, repetition drills the vocabulary/spelling in the child’s mind.

Over the weeks, I expanded the quiz to include not only spelling questions but also: 

  • Grammar exercises, for instance the use of comparatives and superlatives (small-smaller-smallest) with simple sentences where she had to fill out a blank such as “ I am tall__ than my sister”.
  • Conjugation quiz, by simply asking her to conjugate a set verb in a set tense.  
  • Phrase quiz, by asking her to identify nouns or verbs from a list of random words.
  • Translation exercise, asking her to translate a simple sentence from Spanish to English.  I particularly liked this exercise as I think it is a very empowering one, making the child realise how much s/he knows.  It is much better than when done orally as the child will feel the time pressure to answer quickly and suffer blanks.  Here, the child has time to think quietly and put down the translation onto the writing.

Another one I am yet to try is a little phonics revision where I could ask her to list all the letter combinations that sound as the letter “0”.   Phonics revision is always good to help improve spelling. 

With my youngest, the phonics exercises resembled my eldest’s homophones exercise with words to be linked to the right word, or simply filling out the blanks in a word that was also illustrated to make sure she understood what she had to write.  These exercises had success with her too, however as she grows tired of everything very quickly, the magic eventually wore off.  For now, her whiteboard has been removed… but only to return a little later. 😉

These little exercises can go a long way.  One a day can act as a healthy little practice.  As bilingual parents, we often struggle to find time to do minority language homework.  These little exercises can help fit bite-size ml homework revision in your family schedule in a much more synthetic and playful manner.


  • If you lack inspiration, why not copy an exercise from your child’s activity book ?
  • To find sounds to quiz your child about, look up a phonics table for your minority language on the Internet.
  • To work on vocabulary, why not quiz on synonyms?  For instance, “Give me another word for happy?”.  Another way would also be to ask your child to explain a word; e.g: “What do you think the word stubborn means?”
  • To work on phrases, you can also ask your child to correct a sentence, which has no punctuation and capital letters.

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