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Bi-lingual Children - a question!

(14 Posts)
OllieWollieWoo Tue 15-Sep-09 08:27:09

I live in Holland and DS1 has just started at a Dutch school (DH is Dutch). Its started me thinking about how, when and if I should be 'teaching' him English - say using the Jolly Phonics system. I talk English to him and we obviously have English books and DVDs but is there an appropirate stage when I should be teaching him how to read and write in English? I'm conscious of not overloading him especially as they don't start learning grammer etc til aged 6 here. Should I hold off til then or even later? I'm a tad confused!

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 15-Sep-09 09:08:37

What do your school say? I know several Dutch families at dd's school who are perfectly fluent in both languages and are learning german on top. Dutch is such a strange language (sorry), it sounds like gargling for quite a lot of it. I'd have a word with his school and ask how they approach it. You can't be the only one in that situation.

Portofino Tue 15-Sep-09 09:13:16

How old is he? My dd is 5 and bilingual French/English. She too won't really start reading/writing formally for another year at her French speaking school, but at home in English I've just followed her lead. She knows all her letters and can read simple words. She's more interested in writing than reading though and I haven't pushed it, though my sister has recently donated a pile of ORT books so I plan to make more of an effort.

nighbynight Tue 15-Sep-09 09:21:15

I have 4 children. My eldest three learned to read and write in teh language of the country where we were living, before they learned in English. This meant that dd1 was about 8 before she could read and write in english.

With my youngest, she still has a year before she goes to school, so I am trying to get the english in first, before the language of the school.

I think its probably not a good idea to try to teach both side by side. But this is just my impression, I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has successfully attempted bilingual kindergarten/first school year.

canella Tue 15-Sep-09 09:24:46

we're a bilingual family living in germany - ds is nearly 5 and wont go to school until just before his 6th birthday. I started at easter to teach him to read - bought a book from amazon called "teach your child to read in 100 lessons" or some title like that.

i just felt that if he'd been in the UK he'd be starting school this week and be starting these things. Unfortunately he wasnt overly enthused by it - more of a "run-around" 5 year old than a "sit and read" one so we gave it up over the summer holidays! dd (8) has gone back to school today so we'll get back on it this afternoon!

dd can read really well in english (we've only moved here 6 months ago) so i dont do anything specific with her. Her class will start english lessons this year so i'm trying to organise some literacy stuff for her that she can do in those lessons to keep up with knowing formal grammer etc.

think you're doing all the right things by reading to him in english and still watching dvd's - just let him lead you in how much else he wants to do!

itwasntme Tue 15-Sep-09 09:28:56

My dd is five and is just starting to learn to read and write in Catalan. I got in first with the english, but only because she wanted to and showed interest in reading the books she has, and she enjoys websites like

She has coped amazingly well, and has few problems with the different sounds in the different languages (she also has Spanish to contend with). She's reading pretty fluently in English now.

I'd get in there early if you feel your ds can cope.

Cies Tue 15-Sep-09 09:29:26

Have a look at this bilingual family chat thread here

castille Tue 15-Sep-09 09:34:09

I taught DD2 to read in English the year before she started formal reading in French, so she was 5.

It was a doddle because she was ultra keen, and envious of DD1 reading interesting books (we moved back to France after DD1 had done Reception and Y1 in the UK).

It might be harder with a child who isn't bothered. Does he want to learn?

Pitchounette Tue 15-Sep-09 10:09:35

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Pitchounette Tue 15-Sep-09 10:10:18

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Geocentric Tue 15-Sep-09 12:21:39

I think it depends a lot on the local language. We're in Brazil, and Portuguese is v. phonetic, so after DS learnt how to read at school he found it easy to transfer the principle to English and read in English (his first spoken language).

Bucharest Tue 15-Sep-09 12:30:19

I started with dd (almost 6, bilingual Italian/English, about to start Italian primary school) when she was about 4. Bought the Betty Root series of first steps in English reading/writing/numbers books. Always did them as a game, only if dd suggested them etc. Last year started with the ORT series, and have recently been advised on another thread to try the ORT Songbirds series.

I tend to try and look at what the UK curriculum is doing as I believe it to be far superior and better thought out and child-centred than the one I'm living with!

Pitchounette Tue 15-Sep-09 13:44:33

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weegiemum Tue 15-Sep-09 13:49:13

My kids are bilingual in the UK - they go to school in Gaelic (Scotland).

They do it all in Gaelic for primary 1 and 2, and start learning to read and write English after Christmas in primary 3. Then they start French in primary 6.

So my dd1 was 8 when she started English, as ds will be. Dd2 started school a little younger, so she will be 7, but at the same stage.

The school thinks that by the end of primary 5, the children who started English in primary 3 are equivalent to their monolingual peers in English. Certainly my experience with dd1, who has just started p5 and I can't stop her reading, in English or Gaelic!

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