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Teaching French-educated DD to read and write in English - advice please

(12 Posts)
thereistheball Thu 18-Jul-13 08:29:45

DD is almost 6 and will be starting CP in September and will be taught to read in French. I want to teach her to read and write in English alongside her French school teaching, to try to minimise the chances that she'll end up prioritising French over English (she is educated entirely in French so this is likely to be inevitable to an extent, however we're not necessarily planning to stay in France through her entire school career so she needs enough English to be able to transition into the UK school system). Has anyone done this? How? I've heard good things about the Julia Donaldson Songbirds ORT series. Has anyone used these? All advice welcome!

I taught my DD (at her request) when she was 4 - 2 years before starting school here, as I didn't want her to be learning German phonics and English together, learning 2 different sets of phonics at once seems confusing.

I am just teaching Ds1 now and he is nearly 6 like your DD but I wanted to leave it til he himself was interested and not make it a chore. We are keeping him at KiGa an extra year anyway, so he won't start school til Sept, so again there won't be an overlap at the phonics learning stage, I would avoid teaching English phonics at the exact same time as French just to avoid confusion - do it either before or after.

We have used Jolly Phonics for the actual basic phonics (letter sounds and diagraphs - the sounds letters make in combination). It works well, especially the finger phonics books which you can use over and over with more children (or sell when you are finished) but we don't have any reading books that directly follow on. I also have work books and a teachers guide and wall posters - but that was slight over kill knowing I had 3 kids to teach and being a bit over enthusiastic with DD smile DS1 has not wanted to do the work books (his fine motor skills aren't great) but DD did the worksheets in the back of the teachers book. The Finger phonics books alone are enough to teach reading, the work books are more about writing.

For early phonics readers we have some early phonics readers from Usbourne - 'Fat Cat on a mat' and other stories (they are lift the flap and nicely illustrated and are more fun than the title sounds, but geared more at 4-5 year old UK reception age than nearly 6 year olds - they are pleasing though because children can read them using their phonics very early on). We also have a range called 'Usbourne Very First Reading' - a series of 15 consecutive books which come with a parents guide and use increasingly complex phonics, and then various other random Usbourne First Reading books (there are levels but we haven't stuck to them, just bought books that are of interest, mainly non fiction ones on elephants, bugs, space etc.) and we have quite a lot of Oxford Reading Tree books, partly because those are widly used in UK schools and I was thinking of awareness of Biff, Chip and Kipper being part of their "cultural capital" as British kids grin

Other people will tell you to just let her learn in French and she'll pick up the English on her own grin this is true of lots of kids, but I kn ow others here who don't read or write in English at all and don't want to - they will learn to at school obviously, but I guess it depends how much you care about allowing English to become a strong second language (despite being mother tongue) - I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about keeping my kids' English skills as close to native as I can, and for me that includes being bi-literate as well as bilingual, if it can be done without causing anybody stress (if they really didn't want to I would drop it for that child) grin

thereistheball Thu 18-Jul-13 13:36:54

That's a really thorough answer - thanks very much. I am a bit nervous of the whole procedure because I feel strongly that English is and should be DD's first language, and also because I lack the natural patience needed to teach.

thanksamillion Thu 18-Jul-13 20:33:07

I don't know about the French system, but my DCs are being educated entirely in Romanian and I had similar concerns to you. I too started DD1 with English before she started to learn to read Romanian (which is almost entirely phonetic anyway so much easier than English). She's now 8 and can read fluently (and avidly) in both languages.

DS is 6 and a reluctant reader but I'm pushing him more this holiday before he starts school proper in September and so will start to learn to read/write in Romanian.

I too lack patience so have (perhaps a bit shamefully) delegated some of the teaching to the internet. We've used clicknkids which is ok if you don't mind them learning with an American accent. We also used a site called Headsprout but that seems to have changed so I can't vouch for it anymore grin.

We also have a fairly random selection of early readers books which I've picked up when and where I can. And I agree with including at least a bit of Biff and Chip (they have a reasonable website too if you can't bear the monotony of the books).

If you want to use the internet then Reading Eggs is British English and very good. Its a paid for service though - we've only done the free trial and both kids liked it, but not enough to want to use it every day, so we haven't paid for it. It isn't ridiculously expensive though and you can get discount codes by googling, plus it isn't just learning the basics as the site has material going through to age 12 (I think, certainly over age 10). They do workbooks and stuff to support the online lessons, but I haven't seen those.

clearsommespace Fri 19-Jul-13 07:15:52

We used Jolly Phonics, the starfall web site (free) and the Biff Chip and Kipper books.
Both DCs read just as well in English as in French currently (about to go into CM1 and 6eme). The eldest knew his sounds in Engish but didn't really figure out how they fitted together into words until he did it in French in CP. So he learnt to read simultaneously in both languages. The youngest is a bookworm and learnt to read in the summer holidays before GS.
We haven't done anything with regards to writing (other than postcards to the cousins etc) because they're not likely to be educated anywhere other than France but I know people in your position (likely to return to anglophone country) who do written work at home or who employ a tutor when their kids are a bit older.

AndreaDawn Fri 19-Jul-13 11:42:17

My advice is to wait until they are a little older and let them first concentrate on their French lessons, which is difficult enough!
My son also was immersed in a French school from Maternel thru to age 10 and we just found a range of books in English that he loved reading and it was no problem! He has gone from a French education system, American (where standards were very high) and finally British and he has now just completed Uni with a 2.1 Honours degree! Don't underestimate how adaptable children can be, keep it light and fun and then let them take it from there! smile

pinkhousesarebest Sun 21-Jul-13 15:43:41

I was advised to start the ball rolling with mine in GS to avoid confusion in CP. I used Starfall too, and worked right through the programme before moving onto ORT. It actually helped in CP that they were already reading despite dire warnings from their teacher that it would have a detrimental effect.

thereistheball Tue 23-Jul-13 12:58:16

Thanks everyone. I think I've already left it too late to get in before CP starts, so DD will have to learn simultaneously in French and English. I'll look into Starfall and also the Reading Eggs site. Thanks again!

LisaTaylor2 Mon 28-Oct-13 16:25:02

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Oct-13 20:08:22

Hi there!

I have a set of beginning phonics readers for beginners - Jelly & Bean - that I used for DD. Do you want to borrow them? They cost me £250 so I do want them back, but they are very effective and easy to use at home.

DrankSangriaInThePark Tue 29-Oct-13 06:50:20

I agree with AndreaDawn- Dd is educated entirely in Italian and I just left her English (though obviously she is bilingual) by the wayside as it were.
She is now 10 and most of her reading for pleasure is in English. She still mis-spells the odd word, but I'd say (with more or less zero input from me grin) that she can hold her own with any UK based 10 yr old.

If you want to destroy a child's love of reading for life, head for Chip and Biff and whatever else godawful stupid names the kids are given to fit in with phonic spelling.....There are some decent schemes out there though. grin

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