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Kids at local school abroad, how do I teach them to read english? Help!

(30 Posts)
barnet Sun 02-Sep-12 07:28:15

We live in Norway, our first language is english. Dd(6) has been here since she was 2yrs, speaks fluent english at home, and norwegian elsewhere. She has just started school and will learn to read in norwegian this year and next.
She can't read in english yet. It will be taught at school in a few years, but obviously not as a native english speaker.
We have read to her every night since she was a baby, and have LOTS of books in english. I thought she would begin to pick up words and reading through exposure, maybe that was naive!

Looking at phonics threads is overwhelming, as there is so much feeling that if you teach it wrong the child is set back, and I don't feel I know the rules in order to teach it. I learnt to read through exposure to books around 4yrs old so not formally perhaps.

Does it have to be phonics? Is there a simple guide to learning the rules for sounds?

She knows the sounds s,a,t,p,i,n from a phonics video, but I don't know how to move on!

Any help gratefully received!

Rosa Sun 02-Sep-12 08:03:11

I bought some workbooks ( Amazon) and we go through those, they are very helpful with taking it in stages and helps with the sounds , I did have a phonics stage 1 set with a dvd but the cost and logistics was going to be too much. So far she knows all the letters, the sounds and the th, sh, ch. We have gone back to her early reading books and are reading them slowly together. Writing she still uses capitals but is aware of small letters and we use her leappad for practcing them. She is starting school also now and I am going to hold back from the English and take it might not be the right way but she is learning slowly and enjoying it.

barnet Sun 02-Sep-12 08:22:11

Thanks Rosa! Could I ask which workbooks you went for? She is getting stressed about reading as she knows younger cousins in england can read, but she likes workbooks so that could make it more fun!

natation Sun 02-Sep-12 08:39:06

Our youngest, just turned 7 and at primary school one year in French, taught herself some English phonics using Cbeebee's Alphablocks. She also reads Oxford Reading Tree only to levels 6 or 7 then it's too difficult. She is slowly picking up things from the English around her on TV, internet, even reading the Monopoly cards yesterday! I don't push the English at all, originally because of reading one set of rules is better to learn at a time. However, after experiencing life in a bilingual French- English classroom last year where both languages are taught at the same pace, I was quite surprised to see that most children did not struggle with the 2 reading/writing systems, the only ones who did seemed to struggle with everything, the brightest ones were able to recognize the differences and would often point them out.

Apart from what has already been suggested above, how about finding something your daughter is particularly attracted to, favourite stories, favourite TV characters. How about starting her on the very books you've been reading to her, you could read together and since she's going to know some of it by heart, you can start by getting her to guess some of the words as you read along.

vikinglights Sun 02-Sep-12 11:30:02

Hi, whereabputs in norway are you? Im in rural trønderlag with a six year old who started school last year (december birthday) we have been pretty strict regarding learning to read in english and she is nearly as good in english as she is in norwegian. I have used a variety of different things, read write inc for the phonics side of things plus oxford reading tree books, reading eggs on the PC and schofield and sims workbooks.
We started with a phonics approach but found it meshed poorly with the english she was doing at school so we added the other things which have sprovided access to a more realistic vocabulary. She did go through a phase of not wanting to do english at school because it was too easy so i talked to her teacher and sent her in with her own reader and workbook but she soon decided shed rather do the class work.
Have you talked to the school she goes to? Ours is a very little school, just two kids in dd1's year so they are very adaptable regarding individual needs, and seeing as her classmate is a bright spark they just went straight to andre klasse engelsk (with the rest of the group who were in andre klasse) rather than bothering with anythibg more basic.
If both you and your DH are english speaking you could ask about morsmålundervisning but most kommune don't provide this for english speakers since its not required by law for english or scandinavian languages. Legally though your daughter does generally have a right to tilpasset undervisning so the school might be willing to do something different with her but the guide,ines seem to be rather wooly regarding whether the school have a duty to provide tilpasset undervisning in this particular circumstance.

barnet Sun 02-Sep-12 13:49:35

Thanks for the info! Viking- we are in Oslo/bærum. Dd has just started 1. Klasse, there are 75 kids in her year and 3 teachers, so i think the english may come predominantly from us at home! I shall try the reading eggs and oxford series, we do need something structured as I need guidance as to what to do next!

vikinglights Sun 02-Sep-12 14:41:19

Not exactly round the corner then!
I'd definitly suggest you talk to the school, just to find out what they will be doing in english, and what they plan on doing for your dd. Probably nothing special but at least you will know what they are doing and they will have been reminded that your dd speaks english. Is she the only one? With 75 kids there might welll be others, either in 1ste or 2nde Dd1's group is only 6 kids and theres an english speaker, a lithuanian speaker and a portuguese speaker so being bilingual is very normal!

barnet Sun 02-Sep-12 18:47:49

I think you're right viking there are bound to be a few internationals. Did you find it was confusing for your dd to be learning english letters at home at the same time as they are learning norwegian letters at school? I am wondering whether i should wait with the english reading until they start with english at school next year. (but I would prefer english to be her strongest languagegrin)

SuoceraBlues Sun 02-Sep-12 19:04:36

There is this

My DS is half English half Italian and initially went to Italian state school. I was all ready to teach him to read in English after the first year of school when he had got the hang of it in Italian....but he went behind my back and started reading all my old "peter and jane" style books I had decorated his bookshelves with.

By the time I noticed he was off and running, proving that reading is indeed a transferable skill.

I was a bit disappointed, I had picked out all sorts of fancy phonics programmes and ended up just brushing up a few tricky areas with this free site

Spelling city is good for any spelling confusion later on.

SuoceraBlues Sun 02-Sep-12 19:05:44


gallicgirl Sun 02-Sep-12 19:06:31

Have you considered finding a local TEFL teacher to do a bit of private tuition with her, just for the reading?

barnet Sun 02-Sep-12 20:51:34

Thanks for the links, and gallic-a tutor is a great idea too!

Rosa Mon 03-Sep-12 07:05:21

I used the gold stars books from Amazon also one that my mum picked up in M&S which she likes. ...we try and do a bit every other day but I don't want to push her . Also when we are reading a book often I stop and she reads the little words, at the , she , to etc. It might not be 'the' way but at least we are getting there.
Also do remember that IMO Scandanavian people have an excellent knowlege of English so whatever they are taught in the future must be my daughters elementary school they don't even know if they have an English teacher despite it being obligatory so anything I can teach her is better than nothing.

vikinglights Mon 03-Sep-12 08:36:41

DD didn't seem to find it confusing, I started her on some phonics stuff her last year of barnehage (so before she'd done much in norwegian) and by the time she started school she could attempt and manage a simple book in english and it turned out that when presented with the same sort of level book in norwegian she could read that too (norwegian is more regular so I would say its inherently easier).

I decided not to do anything regarding writing in english before she'd mastered the mechanics of that at school (no point re inventing the wheel and all that) so I'll focus a bit more on spelling with her this year. Currently when she writes in english she uses norwegian phonics to spell :-)

My main motivation for 'pushing' the english at this stage is my gut feeling that if she is equally able in both languages it ups the chances that she will choose to read in english for pleasure, which in turn becomes 'free' learning/consolidation, whereas if her norwegian is stronger she's going to naturally choose to curl up with a norwegian book and reading english will be more 'work'. Reading eggs has been very positive because she really doesn't consider that 'work' (unless I make her do the spelling stuff).

DH is norwegian and we use both languages equally at home so in our case I think there is a real risk of the kids becoming norwegian speakers with excellent english rather than norwegian-english bilingual if we let it slide.

WillowTrees Mon 03-Sep-12 12:38:11

I'm reading this thread with interest as my children will have the same issues, but the other way, my husband is Norwegian and 2 were born in Oslo and went to barnehage, so Norwegian was first language (for dd at least, ds was just a baby) then we moved to Sydney when dd was 3 and ds was 1 so my daughter switched to English as a first language and the two others always knew English as a first language. Sadly she's lost the Norwegian though ...

We'll be moving back to Oslo next year so I am keen for the 2 others to learn to read English as native speakers, and hope it won't be too stressful for my 7 yr old to learn Norwegian at school.

In NSW they learn by phonics, reading eggs is something we used a lot last year when she was learning to read, the computer program, ours was, but it sounds like it is 'English' too, I just presumed it was an Australian thing, would highly recommend it.

I guess the main thing is for her not to get stressed, it should be fun (and my daughter found reading eggs fun, while spluttering through a book was more of a chore), and while she may be 'behind' compared to her cousins, she has other strengths I'm sure. We were back in Oslo in July and my mil (a barnehage teacher) and husbands cousin (a 2 klasse teacher) said she was reading at the level of a 8 or 9 year old in Norway, yet in Sydney she is considered very average. Made me wonder if it is right to encourage reading so early, they all get there in the end and should be allowed to be children smile

Rosa Mon 03-Sep-12 21:30:26

Off to google reading eggs not a clue what they are!!!

Bucharest Wed 05-Sep-12 11:05:05

<waves to Rosa>

I bought into the whole reading series/phonicky stuff at first...then subscribed to Headsprout for a while (brilliant scheme, put a callout for Moondog on here who put me onto it and is an expert and v v helpful about it) After a very short space of time dd was reading fluently and since she was 6 we have just bought normal children's books. The headsprout course just seemed to make what she was already picking up from the reading schemes click somehow.

ZZZenAgain Wed 05-Sep-12 11:10:30

have a look at which is a free website. She might like to learn to read with those games and online books.

My dd learnt to read German at school and then about 6 months after she had started on reading German, I just took some very simple books in English and had her try and read them, helping when she got stuck. Just a little bit but often did the trick. No need for phonics or special books IMO. It went very fast with English because the concept of decoding written language had already been understood. I think she was onto simple chapter books in about 3 months, and I didn't put her under any pressure at all. English is more difficult to read than German but if your dc have learnt any western European language first and are using the same alphabet with some variance in pronunciation or with a couple of additional letters, it will be very straight-forward I think. Don't worry about it too much.

SuoceraBlues Wed 05-Sep-12 11:16:49

I don't know if this is any good to you love, but there are a number of online/virtual UK schools now. Mine goes to a different one, but this one here offers part time afternoon sessions in just one subject only if prefered, at primary level

I think for just English it is about 300 quid ish a year. If the lesson time isn't a clash with her bricks and mortar school timetable, might actually work out cheaper than a tutor in your area.

SuoceraBlues Wed 05-Sep-12 11:19:24

oh hang on, I think I read it wrong, they don't take kids under 8. Sorry.

CaliforniaLeaving Thu 06-Sep-12 17:55:58

We used Hooked on phonics pre K with Dd when she was 4 and she pretty much taught herself to read playing the games on the computer.

CaliforniaLeaving Thu 06-Sep-12 17:56:50

Oh yes I second the idea of using She loved using that too.

AlexRider Thu 06-Sep-12 18:02:41

I found that once my DCs learned to read in their adopted language then they applied the same principles and could read English. They can speak English so even if there were different sounds in French, they knew what the word would be to make sense in English. I wasted quite a bit of money having them tutored in English when they were younger and trying to use English workbooks but once they learned the basics of reading in French, English came easily. Now they spend a lot of time writing comics in English and reading English books at bedtime. Their preferred language to read in is English even though they've pretty much taught themselves. I don't push it anymore, just explain the odd incorrect spelling and read their lovely little handwritten books.

SammySquirrel Mon 10-Sep-12 16:07:38

The British Council is the government body responsible for promoting and encouraging the English language world wide. They have a Norway section which has lots of information and resources on developing English.

British Council Norway

SuoceraBlues Tue 11-Sep-12 06:44:15

I had the same experience as AlexRider

And I wasted shed loads of money too.

There are great free resources to encourage the transference of reading and writing skills into English. All nice "bitesize" activities as well.

myths and legends comic creator

and a boatload of really easy to use fun tools at Read Write Think

I've been a TEFLer for over 20 years. Personally I'd avoid bringing in one of us to teach a kid who is expanding one of their native toungues, the vast majority of us have no training in that area and while I found I could transfer my teaching skills I did have to go and do some reading up on teaching L1 to primary school age kids and rethink my objectives and stratagies rather than just apply them as though he were an L2 speaker of English.

Unless of course you find one who used to be a primary school teacher in a former life grin

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