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learning to read in a second language before learning in the first????

(16 Posts)
lucy5 Thu 13-Jan-05 23:29:29

My daughter who is just four will be starting to learn to read and write in Spanish next week. She cannot read in English her first language yet, although she recognises some letters and has some phonemic awareness. Should I continue at home with the English or wait until she has grasped the spanish. I dont wont to confuse her and am worried that my low level Spanish will not enable me to help as I could in English.

SofiaAmes Fri 14-Jan-05 20:34:42

I'm sure there are official theories on it, but I personally would stick to the spanish. I'm sure your basic spanish will be enough to help her as spanish is pronounced just like it looks (almost no odd silent letters) so you should be able to manage the simple words that she will be learning.

jampots Fri 14-Jan-05 20:38:39

Forgive me for asking but why would you want her to learn to read and write a completely foreign language when she hasn't yet begun on her first and presumably only language yet. I can understand learning to speak and understand but sorry, reading and writing is beyond me at this age.

SenoraPostrophe Fri 14-Jan-05 20:45:07

jampots - I think Lucy5´s daughter attends a Spanish school and can speak Spanish.

I´m not sure myself. It is likely that one will "interfere" with the other, but that doesn´t necessarily mean that it will confuse her: she presumably already knows the difference between spoken Spanish and English?

lucy5 Fri 14-Jan-05 23:21:39

We live in Spain, so my daughter understands spoken spanish well. She is very aware of the different languages spoken around her. I am a teacher in an international school and come across alot of children who have started their learning in Spanish and have absolutely no grasp of English. This is causing major problems for them now that they are following a british curriculum. It can be very demotivating for them. I was just thinking out loud trying to weigh up the pros and cons and do what is best for my child.

jampots Fri 14-Jan-05 23:22:35

sorry lucy - didnt realise you were in Spain

Gwenick Fri 14-Jan-05 23:44:59

And even if she wasn't in spain - perhaps her DH could have been spanish! I don't think there's any harm in children learning more than one language at a young age - and infact it's EASIER for them

I knew a couple in Zimbabwe had 3 children. The mum's 1st language was French, the dad's was Shona but they both spoke fluent english as they both taught in a school where lessons were given in English. their 4yr old was a cheeky little thing - You'd ask a question in one language, she would respond in another, so you'd switch to that language and then she'd change to the 3rd - and she did this with her parents too LOL. When she wanted to she could also hold a fluent conversation in all three languages!

The only 'downside' to raising a bi (or tri even!) lingual child is that sometimes their speach starts a little later than 'average' - but they catch up very quickly

jampots Fri 14-Jan-05 23:55:59

im not telling her what to do but merely wondering why one would want to teach a child to read and write in a foreign language before starting on her first language. Obviously the fact that she lives in spain does make more sense.

Gwenick Sat 15-Jan-05 00:01:27

But that's what I'm trying to say Jampots - for all you know her DH could have been spanish - in which case - although her '1st' langauge would probably be English - there's no reason why she shouldn't be learing spanish too - and if she picks it up quicker - all be it!

jampots Sat 15-Jan-05 00:03:58

yes i can see that Gwenick. With the limited info available and the fact that Lucy was questioning it herself I just gave my view - right or wrong!

I know kids pick up other languages when taught earlier and i wasnt dissing this.

lucy5 Sat 15-Jan-05 00:08:45

I'm sorry I didnt make myself very clear. It was late when I posted and I managed to post the title and lose everything else. So you got the abridged version.

SenoraPostrophe Sat 15-Jan-05 14:10:17

I do see why you're worried, Lucy.

I've been worrying about it myself and dd is only 2 (we're also in Spain).

It depends on your dd really - I plan to teach my dd to read in English if she is into the idea, but not if she isn't. If she isn't, I'll wait.

I agree that it can cause problems if you wait too long. A friend's ds (8) can read quite well in Spanish but has terrible trouble with English. He came home from school the other day saying that he supports "Arr-sen-al" - my friend corrected him, but he wouldn't have it.

Now in an ideal world, dd would skip the pointless "handwriting" classes they do in schools here (and RE) and learn to read English instead, but I doubt the local school would like that idea.

KatieinSpain Sat 15-Jan-05 14:56:21

We've just bought a leapad to help with both the English and Spanish for DS1, 2.5 and DP, 33 . Woolies, in Suffolk, is selling some of the books/cartridges for £5.99.

I'll be interested to know what you decide to do, Lucy, as we are going to have to cross this bridge later on. What approach to reading were you thinking of using?

LIZS Sat 15-Jan-05 15:01:40

Have a friend who is a UK trained teacher and has worked in an International school. Her children are going through the Swiss system (currently 4 and 5) but in that there is no formal teaching until they start first grade at 6/7 so she is using this window of opportunity to get them grounded in Englkish reading and writing, and in fact has started her own business on this basis for expat families in a similar position. If howver as in your case the formal teaching of 2nd language starts earlier then I would have thought it better to let her concentrate on the essentials of Spanish and come back to the English , frustrating though that may be for you in the interim, unless she is going to move at any point in the near future into an education system where the basics of literacy in English would be assumed. Have other friends with older children 7/8 plus who are only now getting to grips with written English, despite that being the primary language spoken in the home, and their parents manage with the German homework somehow.

hth

lucy5 Sat 15-Jan-05 21:18:47

Thanks everyone. My dd is interested in reading in English. She is becoming aware of words being written seperately on the page. She mimcks stories and pretends to write. I bought some basic phonics and intro to reading books from the early learning centre in Gibraltar. These are fun, plenty of rhymes little bit of colouring, following lines left to right, all fun stuff. We also have a leap pad. I think you are right, I should go with flow and see what happens. I've pretty much always followed her lead in other developmental areas. I just panicked because to be honest I hadnt even considered that she would learn in Spanish first, Duurrh!

lucy5 Sat 15-Jan-05 21:20:25

P.s I'll let you know what happens. Thanks again.

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