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Learning how to read and English when living in a different country

(10 Posts)
LovelyRitaMeterMaid Mon 29-Jun-09 19:51:25

I have a friend who is English and lives in Germany with her German DH and DD (3) and DS (1). Her DD is fully bilingual.

She has been wondering about when to introduce reading and writing with her DD, who started Kindergarten last September when she was just 3, and who her mum hopes will start school properly when she is nearly 6 (ie a year earlier than she "could"). All her closest friends are between 4 months and a year older than her, and having met her, she is an intelligent small girl smile

She feels there could be potential for confusion with reading and writing English and German, and that her DD won't start "learning" English for a few years.

Does anyone have experience of this sort of situation, and how have you dealt with it?

LovelyRitaMeterMaid Tue 30-Jun-09 10:02:27

Bump (wonder what the German is for that)

Othersideofthechannel Tue 30-Jun-09 11:09:19

I think there are some experts on this subject on here.

In the meantime, here's my experience.
My DCs both started 'école maternelle' in France about the age they could recognise some but not all letters in English. I have carried on teaching them English phonics and reading in a relaxed way at home. I only do reading in French with DS when it is homework.

DS is 6 and can read in both languages, although his reading ability in French is higher than in English because he has more time doing that (school).
I haven't noticed much confusion between the two languages. Very rarely he'll look at letters in one language and come up with the corresponding sound in the other language so I just say 'we're reading in English' and he comes up with the correct sound.

DD is 4 and can read simple words in English. She hasn't started reading in French yet although they are doing a lot of groundwork at school.

Of course there is potential for confusion but I don't think it can do any harm if her DD is keen to read. Not as much harm as pressuring a child who isn't ready to read.

frAKKINPannikin Tue 30-Jun-09 21:15:06

It depends when she would be expected to start reading/writing in German at school.

I'm of the opinion it's better to have one language down (so the concept of reading and writing is concrete) before starting another. But I'm not an expert....

My charge will, when faced with a word he doesn't know, go for the French pronunciation first but a little reminder as Othersideofthechannel does will remind him to try it the English way. I think he reads phonically in both languages.

There is no harm introducing reading in a fun way and encouraging a child to read along at an early age but there's nothing as harmful as pressure so if your friend's DD shows any signs of disliking it then she should stop, wait for her DD to be ready/it to be introduced at school and go with the language her DD wants to read in.

abroadandmisunderstood Tue 30-Jun-09 21:24:20

I amin the same situation. In Germany with two boys though. DS1 is 4 and has been showing such frustration in not being able to read. I have decided to crack on with teaching him to read and write in English, which is going so well. I think within about 4 months that will be done and them he had a good 1 1/2 years before school. He is in Kindergarten and is 50/50 English and Deutsch.

I didn't want to leave the reading and writing any longer because of his eagerness. It seemed cruel to deny him that when if we were in the uk he would be starting school this September.

I am using "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons". Only takes 10-20 mins a day when the baby is asleep and is also great bonding time for us. Cannot recommend it enough!

abroadandmisunderstood Tue 30-Jun-09 21:26:22

We are all English, though, which might change the eventual circumstance somewhat. I imagine one day we will return to the UK or at least an English speaking society.

abroadandmisunderstood Tue 30-Jun-09 21:26:24

We are all English, though, which might change the eventual circumstance somewhat. I imagine one day we will return to the UK or at least an English speaking society.

Portofino Tue 30-Jun-09 21:33:44

I'm in the same postion too, though we speak English at home, but dd goes to a french speaking school. She is 5 and has known all her letters (in English) for about 2 years. They have only just started the concept at school.

She doesn;t seem that keen on reading, but loves writing. She can write her name and other simple words. When we have stories I spell some words out in the hope that she will start to recognise them, and have covered sounds like oo and ee.

She will have another year of Maternelle, though i think she might be ready for more, and despite initially thinking i would hold off the reading til she started it at school I think I will now start gently pushing reading in English as I think another school year is too long to leave it.

castille Tue 30-Jun-09 21:38:24

I taught my DD to read in English a year before she was due to learn in French, ie when she was 5.

Although she was learning letter and syllable sounds in French at the same time, she picked up on the difference very fast and has never mixed the two up.

The key in her case I'm sure was her willingness to learn. I'd encourage your friend to read lots to her DC and wait until they are showing a genuine interest in learning, then it'll be relatively easy, at least in my experiencesmile

LovelyRitaMeterMaid Tue 30-Jun-09 22:52:43

Thank you for all your replies - I will let my friend know that other people have been doing what she is thinking about and that it seems to be working out fine smile

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