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how is reading taught in other languages?

(141 Posts)
Periwinkle007 Mon 17-Jun-13 10:06:23

just curious, is it also through phonics?

noramum Mon 17-Jun-13 10:26:11

I am German and we currently teach DD to read in German. Luckily the German language is properly phonetic so what she learned here in school means she can read most words .

Only additional sounds are taught now but after using them a couple of times she knows what to do.

Periwinkle007 Mon 17-Jun-13 10:34:46

thank you. I was just wondering. So many of my daughter's friends are bilingual and so learning to read in 2 languages and I was just curious how other languages worked.

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 10:42:48

I remember learning Welsh many years ago and certain phonemes back then were taught explicitly, specifically ll and dd. But Welsh has certain mutations, soft and nasal, and although I remember them being taught as sounds (which clearly they are when spoken) they weren't broken down into phonemes but we were shown techniques involving different ways of pronouncing entire words depending on their contexts. I guess today that would be called a mixed method.

Periwinkle007 Mon 17-Jun-13 10:45:37

yeah Welsh is a lovely but strange language - my mum used to speak it but I never learned it.

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 10:52:08

I'm not sure if it has to be taught like that or if that was just the way they did it. Because the pupil has to be aware that when a word has mutated it is still the same word but just has a different pronunciation.

English doesn't have anything like that but I suppose contractions are about as close as you can get in English. But the problem with comparing the two things is that in English a contraction for example the word can't works as a stand alone word. Can not also works. But in Welsh the mutation can't work on its own. It can only work in context. So, presumably you have to teach not only the word but the context as well, otherwise the lesson doesn't make any sense.

rrbrigi Mon 17-Jun-13 10:57:53


I am Hungarian. My son can read in English and Hungarian, however when we read Hungarian books I need to remind him that he reads a Hungarian book not an English one. In Hungarian you need to learn the abc and you can sound out most of the words, but we sound out the abc in different way than English people do. E.g.: sound out the "a" letter in two different way sometimes he needs to think which language is which one.

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 11:00:33

Which are the words that you can not sound out in Hungarian and why can you not sound them out?

Periwinkle007 Mon 17-Jun-13 11:02:51

thank you. I learned to read and write some Hungarian once, long time ago when I was younger due to having a penfriend there so I got a book and taught myself. Couldn't remember it now though and Romanian was easier as it was very latin based and I was studying latin.

It must be a real advantage to learn a second language so young.

rrbrigi Mon 17-Jun-13 13:55:53

We can sound out evrything in Hungarian, just for example we sound out "a" /the first letter of the abc/ in a completely different way than in English. And sometimes it is confusing for my son.

rrbrigi Mon 17-Jun-13 13:57:34

Yes I do think it is a real advantage to learn a second language so young. I think my son is a very bright children thanks to this.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 09:16:22

Swedish here, again largely phonetic, so once you had learnt the alphabet you could read most words. Only some tuition needed on a couple of clusters (skj, sch, lj, dj).

elQuintoConyo Tue 18-Jun-13 09:28:42

My dc is still too young to read, but Spanish(we're in Spain) is a phonetic language and easy to read once you know the letters.
Teaching him to also read and write in English, well, that'll be a whole different kettle o'fish.

learnandsay Tue 18-Jun-13 09:30:00

I'm not sure how young too young to read actually is. I suppose it depends on what we call reading.

Tiggles Tue 18-Jun-13 10:30:23

DSs are learning to read/write in Welsh (as a foreign language), it is very phonetic so they are learning phonetically. DS2 is in year 1 and has just started bringing home welsh reading books. He definitely isn't sound in Welsh phonics yet though, as although he is getting better at reading/translating the Welsh, he often tends to use English phonics to make the Welsh spellings when writing!

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 18-Jun-13 11:35:19

When children start primary here (at 6) they are more or less expected to already be able to read. (another phonetically regular language)

Dd's teacher said that any child who couldn't read when they started should be able to do by the Christmas of their first year.

noramum Tue 18-Jun-13 12:15:44

learnandsay: in Germany children start school after their 6. birthday (cut off is between June and September, depending on where you live) and while some preschool classes in the nursery/kindergarten do phonics lessons most children are unable to read. The pre-school teaching varies a lot depending where you live.

They normally manage by Christmas - Easter to a level similar to orange here (based on what I saw as reading books for the first year child).

Periwinkle007 Tue 18-Jun-13 12:50:13

ok Swedish looks scary to me!

thank you everyone. Interesting to note that in Germany they pick up reading quickly. I suppose if a language is more regular with spellings then it will be easier to learn to read it and presumably spell it.

beresh Tue 18-Jun-13 22:30:58

In Switzerland my DC's were taught to read German using mundbilder - pictures of faces with the lips making the letter sound. Shortly after Christmas, so after one term of teaching, the teacher sent out a celebratory letter saying that all the children could now read and would all read the same chapter book as homework. Seemed bizarre to me at the time (and I never got the hang of it) but it did work for the children!

learnandsay Tue 18-Jun-13 22:47:41

Admittedly German children are a lot older than ours when they start school. But still, I would have thought from nothing to chapter books in one term was a bit rapid!

vikinglights Wed 19-Jun-13 07:59:26

DD1s first reading book, which she got the day she started school was about 150 pages long. No changing books every day here!

cory Wed 19-Jun-13 08:28:52

From nothing to chapter books in one term not that uncommon in Sweden either. Basically once you have understood the system of one letter=one sound and memorised the letters, you're there.

Bonsoir Wed 19-Jun-13 08:32:23

When properly taught, children who speak European languages are taught to read through phonics (the scientific reasoning behind the teaching of reading through phonics is very clear).

But there is still a lot of residual whole-word or mixed methods going on... I find it incredible that humankind is able to do so many incredible things and yet the teaching of reading is still so haphazard.

learnandsay Wed 19-Jun-13 09:52:57

By haphazard do you mean some countries seem to have it down pat and some countries (like the UK, judging by this thread) seem by comparison to be still in the stone age? But surely the crazy nature of our written language has to take some of the blame. People often say you can't polish a t--d. Well, you get the picture.

noramum Wed 19-Jun-13 10:04:54

DD got into German reading as soon as her phonics where fine. I think the German way has two advantages, the children are 2 years older, so imagine what your 6 year old can academically compared to a 4 year old and that it is a lot more phonetic compared to the English language.

DD and I had a fight at breakfast table yesterday about the word "Pint". She just couldn't understand why you pronounce the "i" not "ee" but "ai".

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