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billingual children and wondering about starting to read in second language (french)

(14 Posts)
tulipe Mon 05-Oct-09 13:21:33

My children are in key stage 1 and billingual.
My parents often offer them French books and press me to teach them to read in French. I prefer waiting until they can read English fluently, to avoid confusion, but I think they might be loosing out.

Has anyone tried introducing reading in a second language?
What was successful? How did you manage to succeed?

Regarding reading in French has anyone got suggestion of material, resources and web links that could help?
a bientot!

emkana Mon 05-Oct-09 13:25:08

Hi, my children grow up with German and English. I didn't actively teach them to read in German, but have found that once they were confident to read in English they became keen themselves to decipher German and they gradually and more or less by themselves got better and better at it.

tulipe Mon 05-Oct-09 13:36:23

Maybe I am impatient!
Waiting might a good and simple approach then, thank you.

claricebean Mon 05-Oct-09 13:44:58

We speak English at home and my DC go to a Spanish school. I have concentrated on reading in English here, and letting them learn to read Spanish at school. The older two (9 and 7 yo, both bilingual) read well in English (above average for age) but in Spanish they are still a bit slower than average. Their teachers think they should read Spanish at home too, but they are reluctant and I don't want to put them off reading altogether as they are both getting on well at English reading. English is also a much harder language to read phonetically then Spanish so I am happy for them to focus on that at home.

I have noticed in the last few months that DD1's Spanish reading has started to pick up pace and that she is keener to read it at home. This is something she has instigated as she has started swapping books with friends, so overall I think the easy-does-it approach with the second language has worked well for us.

slng Mon 05-Oct-09 14:00:31

I teach them to read and write and speak Chinese at home. They can learn English in school. What else do they do all those hours in school anyway grin. At this stage DS1 (nearly 6) and DS2 (nearly 4) can read more Chinese than English, from just about 5 minutes here and there now and then, since about 2yo. I think waiting is probably a good approach, but I also think that if you do want to teach them any old method would work, simply because teaching 1-to-1 is so easy ... (Famous last word. Of course we are not quite "successful" yet but what is there if you can't hope!?)

RacingSnake Mon 05-Oct-09 21:23:43

There's a bookshop in London called Little Linguists where you can go and browse French books. They also have the French equivalent of Jolly Phonics and other things, designed for English school children learning French but authentic materials, which could be useful. Forget where they are though. Try google.

RacingSnake Mon 05-Oct-09 21:25:32

Sorry, how lazy of me. I could try google. Here it is www.little-linguist.co.uk/

cory Tue 06-Oct-09 07:28:36

My experience was very similar to emkana's; they've picked it up without much support from me. Though it has to be said that their second language is Swedish, which is pretty phonetic; with French you might need to help them a bit more, in this case I would probably do as claricebean and slng.

weegiemum Tue 06-Oct-09 07:38:09

My children's second language is Gaelic, which they learn at school, we speak English at home.

The school policy is that they begin to learn to read/write English in the middle of primary 3 - roughly age 7-8. These are kids who are already fluent English speakers (well, Glaswegians anyway!!)

Until then it is total immersion in Gaelic.

But I have noticed that my son in particular has really picked up English reading - he often comes to me to ask about a phonetic rule, but ploughs on and has almost finished the first Harry Potter even though he has not yet officially begun to learn English reading. His Gaelic reading is of a similar standard, and he's 7.

So it is possible in 2 tricky languages - if ever there was a non-phonetic (from an English point of view) language, its Gaelic!

I do think I have an exceptionally motivated ds though. Dd1 who is 9 is pretty much in line with the top group in her class - ds's teacher is talking to us about what to do with him when she starts English after CHristmas as she's worried he's going to be bored (and he has already been in trouble once for shouting "boring!" in the middle of a Maths lesson that was, indeed, boring!

mammya Tue 06-Oct-09 07:49:35

My dd is, like your children, bilingual French English. I was like you when she started to learn to read in English, I didn't want to push the French so she would not be confused. To my surprise, she picked it up pretty much by herself once she could read in English. I should add that she found learning to read very easy and was reading more or less fluently in English at the end of her first term in reception, that could be an important fact!

mammya Tue 06-Oct-09 07:50:32

factor, not fact

jenpet Tue 06-Oct-09 08:08:08

tulipe DS1 is kind of just the opposite to your DC's - he has learnt to read French at school, and as an English speaking family i felt it important to continue his English reading at home. In France "proper" taught French reading doesn't start in until CP, around age 6, so I'd started English at home a bit earlier to try and get the basics in there somewhere. However, since having structured lessons at school his English has improved massively too (although trying to get a 7 and a half year old to read anything other than "the Beano" is quite a challenge anyway!)

tulipe Wed 07-Oct-09 13:10:27

Thank you for all your replies. It gives me lots to think about. A lot of you seem to think that we can let go with the flow. But a bit of coaching like slng is a good approach too.
As reading L1 is an issue for DS, maybe I should not push it. (we have had conflicts regarding reading) so I might be waiting for him to show interest in L2 reading.
DD is in reception year and she is so keen on reading that she might even pick up reading in french before her big brother.

Bucharest Wed 07-Oct-09 13:17:24

I suppose I am in the same position as Jenpet- dd is bilingual Italian/English....she has just started Italian elementary school, (she was 6 last week) and so will be learning to read in Italian there. As far as English is concerned we've been pottering about with it, I suppose, since she was about 3, letters, phonics, those pre-reading exercise books you can buy, all based on play, obviously, and only ever done when she wants to do some.

I don't see why reading in 2 languages simultaneously should be a problem tbh, you refer in your OP to a "second" language, but, if I have understood correctly, your child is actually bilingual, so it isn't a second language as such....which might present problems in assimilating reading skills, simply because with a second language one presumes that one language is used more than the others....(like Italian i my second language)

I'd go for it.....as long as the child shows interest....maybe reading in French might be more interesting for your son? smile if he doesn't like English reading very much....

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