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Teach reading in the minority language (English) myself or wait?

(16 Posts)
Natsku Tue 19-Jan-16 16:45:53

We live in Finland and DD is bilingual but her English is a bit worse than her Finnish. She won't be starting school until 7 (she's 5 next month) and they don't teach reading until then, and English classes don't start until the 3rd grade (unless I managed to get her special mother tongue classes but that depends on the school).

If I wait for the school to teach her to read in English she might 9 before she can read English books and I worry she'll miss out but I'm not sure about trying to teach her myself. Has anyone taught reading in the minority language themselves?

Izlet Tue 19-Jan-16 22:49:20

I did, I taught her to read at 5 a year or so before she started local primary school. At that time she was in local preschool (3-6yo) and English was definitely her minority language.

I used this book, it was a bit American and not in colour (my version way back when) but it was effective. She could read short children's books like Barbapapa after that, but most of the bedtime reading was still done by me and she'd recognise words. We also did some jolly phonics stuff to follow (I bought a DVDs), mainly the vowel sounds as they proved the main difficulty (ai in English is different to ai in the local language for eg.)

When she did start school she picked up reading in the local language (entirely phonetic) in a month and interestingly it improved her reading in English as well. Now at 10 she reads equally in both languages, although for more complex subject matter she prefers the local language as it's her stronger language.

Izlet Tue 19-Jan-16 22:50:15

Sorry, should say I taught DD. Must preview.

WidowWadman Tue 19-Jan-16 22:52:42

In our case German is the minority language and I've been teaching reading in it alongside the English reading my kids learn at school.

tomatodizzy Tue 19-Jan-16 23:23:38

My first two children were the opposite, we were living in England and their fathers language was the minority language. When we moved to his country they had never read anything (7 and 9) they are now 10 and 13 and always taking books out of the school library or downloading English ones on Kindle. They can read equally well in both languages and pick books based on their interests rather than the language. My youngest two are 3 and 6. The 6 year old will start 1st grade in February. He will have some English lessons but very basic and mostly spoken. He started learning a few sounds in pre-school and as most of our home books are English he attempted to sound out English words with same phonetic rules. He has figured out that he cannot do this so well and a couple of times he has figured out the word on his own by applying his knowledge of the word and knowledge of the story. I can actually see how learning to read in one language first, rather than confusing a child can actually help their ability to read in another.

Archfarchnad Tue 19-Jan-16 23:42:11

I was surprised how little teaching was actually necessary for a bilingual child to read in the minority language. DD1learned to read in English at a bilingual school, then one day aged 7 got hold of a kids' book and started reading it with no problems. She only needed help with orthographic differences (like umlauts and the esszett in German, also that ie is always pronounced eee and ei always as eye. Once she'd grasped that her reading was almost just as good in German. So the main way you can help is by providing reading material for eg bedtime stories and listen to her read.

PeachFuzzzz Tue 19-Jan-16 23:53:51

I did. In my case one language isn't alphabetic, but when both languages are a lot of the skills are transferable - blending and so on. You might find it easier after she has already learned to read at school, or you might want to give her a head start. Jolly phonics is a fun system with good support materials - activity books with stickers, cd rom for pc and dvd etc.

Natsku Wed 20-Jan-16 06:54:43

Thanks for the replies. Finnish is a phonetic language so each letter has one sound and its always the same so it will definitely make trying to read English after reading in Finnish quite odd!

My mum sent over the first 3 stages of the Kipper, Chip and Biff books for her and she loves me reading them to her and sounding out the words for her so I guess I'll continue doing that.

Maybe Jolly Phonics would be a good idea, we watched on youtube the letter sounds, annoying songs but I bet that helps them stick in the kids heads.

barnet Wed 20-Jan-16 07:06:38

I tried to teach english reading before norwegian from about 4/ 5yrs, but found it very difficult to explain phonics etc. We did use the biff and kipper books from time to time. In the end DD learned to read norwegian first at school at 7, then once she had that she quickly could just adapt to english.
So now she is 9 she is reading Harry Potter in english.
But to be fair her english spelling is terrible. Although since adult norwegians spell well in english I am confident she will learn ok.

PinPon Wed 20-Jan-16 07:07:29

Alphablocks on the bbc iplayer or on YouTube is also brilliant for helping with learning English letter sounds.

My DC is just starting to learn to read in the minority language. Hope it's fun. smile

tomatodizzy Wed 20-Jan-16 11:19:18

PinPon you've just reminded me we downloaded cbeebies playtime app and my two love the alphablocks game. My 6 year old started blending English words with that so it is a great resource. We also have a set of phonics flashcards that came with an instruction sheet to group the letters up into sounds. It might be Jolly phonics, I got it a long time ago in the Early Learning Centre and it was the same method they were using in school. It had an action to go with each letter as well and my older children loved this, might do it with the younger two

allegretto Tue 09-Feb-16 11:44:05

I am teaching my 6 year olds to read in English - they are ready and won't learn reading at school till next year (we are in Italy). I think that if they don't get a head start in English it might just fall by the wayside!

Jinsky Tue 09-Feb-16 22:23:34

I used jolly phonics with my dc when they were 5 - worked very well. They then moved on to a series of first reader books. Can't remember which but will find out and get back to the thread.

Jinsky Tue 09-Feb-16 22:27:38

Ladybird read with me books is what they moved on to.

Ditsy4 Sat 05-Mar-16 10:09:22

Jolly Phonics is used in a lot of schools. Make sure you know what you are teaching though as I have had children in England who were "taught" before coming to school and have been taught incorrectly. It means lots of work undoing misconceptions. Things like children taught to write in capital letters! Oxford Reading Tree is quite a good series the kids like them. Sunshine- not sure if they are still in print and real books once they get going. Please research it quite a bit first. My sister taught her bi-lingual children to read.

justwondering72 Thu 24-Mar-16 12:53:19

I tried to teach ds1 to read in English at 5. We are in France and they don't start reading until 6. It didn't work at all - he totally refused to let me teach him, and every attempt to do anything with jolly phonics etc ended in a fight. He was - and still is - very happy to be read to. I felt a total failure tbh at the time as I had lots of other Anglo friends whose 5 yr olds were already reading!

Fast forward one year. As soon as he started learning to read in French, he very quickly taught himself how to read in English. I had an old primary reading scheme book set, and basically used it to test his level, and by the end of his first year he was storming through them.

Fast forward another two years, he's reading really well in English, probably P6/P7 level. He just wanted to do it his own way.

So I'd say give it a go, don't worry if it doesn't take, keep up the basics like lots of story time and you reading to her, and go for it once she starts learning at school.

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