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Teaching to read in non-dominant language

(11 Posts)
tourdefrance Thu 16-Aug-12 11:50:37

A bit of background: I'm half-French, we live in the UK, but both DP and I are fluent in German from study and living there pre-kids.
So we speak German, English and French at home, pretty much in that order.
We read English, German and French books to DS1 and DS2 and also listen to music. English is dominant as we own more English books and get them from school, library and as presents too.
DS1 has just finished Reception and is progressing well with his reading from recognising a few letters when he started to reading short simple early readers.
He asks about different letters in French and German and occassionally I will point out words and say things like - the c/k sound is almost always a K in German. Or you don't pronounce the K in knee but in German you do for Knie.

Is this enough for the moment? We don't have any early reader type books in either language and I'm not sure where to start, but don't want Biff and Chip in translation. All books are bought from amazon and its really hard to find what would be appropriate.

Tabitha8 Sat 18-Aug-12 21:05:02

Amazon.Fr will import to the UK if that helps, though they do charge postage. Presumably Amazon.De will as well, but, as I don't speak a word of German, I can't tell. smile
DS (age 3) loves L'Ane Trotro, Miffy, Thomas Le Petit Train and Chuggington.

sashh Tue 21-Aug-12 07:06:21

A colleague is Brazilian, he and his wife speak Portuguese at home. They didn't teach their child to read in Portuguese as it is phonetic and learing to read is harder in English.

He just picked it up easily. I know French is not phonetic but I know no German so not sure if this is any use to you.

If you are looking for French and German books then is there an Amazon Switzerland?

natation Tue 21-Aug-12 10:04:24

Written French has a very high phonetic correlation with spoken French, once you've learned which letter patterns are silent in speech eg "il mange" and "ils mangent" being pronounced the same and spelled differently. It's easier for a learner to read than write still, because of all these extra silent letters you have to remember to include! It took our 6 year old only a few months to be pretty competent in reading French, especially since she'd spent the previous 2 years learning sounds and letters using Planete des Alphas. She reads fine in English, except the phonetic correlations are more complicated and English spelling is terribly idiosyncratic so needs more help with words she'd never seen before.

tourdefrance Thu 23-Aug-12 12:01:30

Thanks for the comments so far. Yes and will ship to the UK but charge postage so we tend to buy loads around Christmas and birthdays and spread it out throughout the year. However, I've recently worked out that will sometimes sell you the same book for about the same price but with free postage so once you have a title to search for its worth looking there.

Natation - Thanks for the Planete des Alphas title. I will look into that one. DS1 is very interested in reading and writing French. Yesterday at home he wanted to play French school! So its finding a way to encourage this gently.

Can any German speakers recommend basic reading books? Also DVDs in both French and German that would suit 2 and 5 yr old. I'm reluctant to get Thomas the Tank engine etc in another language but may resort to this.

lelait Fri 31-Aug-12 20:09:21

What about asking for a magazine/book subscription as a present? Im no use in german sorry but a couple of mags we like are pomme d'api - which has Sam-Sam also a good cartoon; Abricot & J'apprends a lire. Ecole des loisirs might br worth googling if only for really nice ideas of age appropriate books...

tourdefrance Mon 24-Sep-12 12:27:53

Thanks lelait. We used to get Picoti and now get Toupie. We also get Toupie Chansons occassionally which is really good. Have just got Planete des Alphas on natation's recommendation and watched the DVD at the weekend. I'm not sure about it yet, seemed to do the vowels well then skim over the consonants. Also bought Chuggington in French and Caillou in German. It was the first time they've seen TV in another language (apart from very occassionally on u-tube) but seemed happy enough to watch it, no doubt helped by knowing Chuggington at least already.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Sep-12 18:06:43

If you really want your DC to read and write in French and German, why don't you send them to Saturday school? Or get a tutor? It will be far quicker, far better and far less painless than DIY.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Sep-12 18:07:30

less painful

LillianGish Tue 25-Sep-12 18:47:28

My dcs spent their early years in a French school in Berlin while dh and I are both English so English was spoken at home. So, same combination of languages, but with different emphasis. As far as reading goes they learned to read in French at school with a bit of German and then just worked out how to read English if that makes sense. Your dcs are still very little - I really wouldn't worry too much about teaching anything yet (apart from what the eldest is already learning at school of course). If they have enough exposure to the other languages they will want to do it when the time is right. It sounds like the eldest is already starting to do that. I really worried that I wasn't doing enough reading in English but they both picked it up surprisingly effortlessly. I remember once quizzing ds as to how he knew how to pronounce similar groups of letters differently when reading in English and he looked at me as if I was an idiot for thinking he would mix up the three languages. I think the key thing at this stage is to make sure they get enough exposure to the least dominant language - in your case that is probably French. They have to speak English at school and you speak German at home so I would let them watch as much TV as they like as long as it is in French. In my experience kids need a reason to speak a language - mine were fluent in German when we lived in Berlin so they could watch TV and play with their friends in the playground, but they don't speak it anymore, because they don't have to (living in UK at a French school). I would find something they like watching - if it's a cartoon it doesn't matter if it is dubbed - so they are really motivated to watch.

Gipfeli Wed 26-Sep-12 11:43:28

ds and dd are at school in Switzerland and learning to read in German. They
don't get given books to read at school in the same way that children in the Uk are. They are following a program called "Lesen durch schreiben" and it seems to be doing exactly as it says there. They mostly read short passages and texts chosen by the teachers and then have some books at home that we have bought.

A pronounciation guide is quite helpful - once they have this they it's fairly straightfoward from here on (with exceptions - we had a huge trantrum over the word "Orange")

A search for "erstlesebücher" on would give you some ideas of the kind of things available for first reading. They are graded according to difficulty as 1. Klasse, 2 Klasse etc and some have the "look inside" facility so you can see if they look suitable. DS (aged 8.5 in the 3. Klasse) enjoys reading the abridged versions of Treasure Island, Jungle Book and other similar ones for some reason. You could also try German translations of books you've liked in English perhaps - we have the Gruffalo in German. The Mama Moo series about a cow (from Sweden originally) and Lars, the little polar bar are popular here.

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