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I have a question about phonics and bilingualism.

(9 Posts)
doggiesayswoof Thu 24-Sep-09 13:04:19

DD has just started in a Gaelic medium school (Scottish Gaelic)

The school has designed its own system of phonics which seems excellent - dh and I are rushing to try and learn the actions for all the sounds so we can help with homework.

DD is keen to read and is starting to "get" blending.

I'd like to know if it's likely she will begin to read in English on her own as she learns to blend sounds. She is keen to read on her own and we will get her some Gaelic reading books in due course, but the vast majority of books she has are obviously in English. I guess the problems may lie where the sounds differ in the two languages.

Any ideas?

Bucharest Thu 24-Sep-09 13:11:11

Well, I'm in the same-ish boat, dd has just started Italian primary and I've just started her on English reading phonicky stuff (thanks to Moondog's excellent Headsprout suggestion!) I've been wondering this myself, especially as Italian is totally phonetic (ie 5 vowel sounds, 5 ways to pronounce them) whereas with English it's much more complex....(I also studied languages and linguistics at uni so always have a lot of what-if scenarios going through my head) At the moment it doesn't seem to be causing any problems, I think because dd knows she does English at home, Italian at school and hasn't yet done any transference from one language to the other, at least as far as pn is concerned....
It might be an idea for you to do some English reading with her away from the school (as long as she wants to) to bring hr reading on in both languages?

moondog Thu 24-Sep-09 13:13:01

Second Bucharest's comments (unsurprisingly!) and it worked very well for us as dd learnt to read in another language.

doggiesayswoof Thu 24-Sep-09 13:45:48

I was going to look at Headsprout. I'd love to do some English reading with her.

But I thought that it would confuse her, to be simultaneously learning 2 systems of phonics? I haven't done any linguistics so I don't know about this sort of thing...

Bucharest it's interesting that your DD is keeping the two separate.

moondog Thu 24-Sep-09 13:59:42

If she is coping well with the Italian, shouldn't be a problem.

My dd had learnt to read beforehand using a much more phonetically regular language. I introduced headsprout to he as a precursor to me choosing it as the topic of my research.

I'm also interested i the research question of whether specialist in one language has a knock on effect in another. From my research project results, it owuld appear so and anecdotally form my dd it seemed very much to be the case.

doggiesayswoof Thu 24-Sep-09 14:04:44

Gaelic is so tricky phonetically though (well I think so anyway, as I struggle to learn the pronunciation rules)

When you say knock on effect I take it you mean it helps?

Do you mind me asking which language your DD learned to read first moondog?

backtoworkthistime Thu 24-Sep-09 15:17:29

We had this in that ds was starting to read in english before school[welsh medium school] ~by himself really,but when he was trying to take inthe welsh vowels sounds etc in yr 1 reading I laid low with the english to give him a chance to consolidate the welsh in his mind.

I would then do some english reading with him in the holidays so that that too was kept up[with an english phonics chart],pointing out at times,the different alphabets and vowel sounds.

I found it worked best to be completely clear with him about the different alphabets[we had a wooden flip alphabet in each language]and that the same vowel worked differently in welsh and english.

For example for english for the letter "u" I would say"We are reading english so this is "uppy umbrella or uh"
or for welsh "We are reading welsh so this is pronounced "ee" [which would be reinforced at school].

He is 7 and now reads excellently in both languages with no confusion ~ he can now read his welsh book immediately followed by his english book.

Sorry if the way I have put it is confusing!
Also ~ it is more work but then you end up with two languages.

doggiesayswoof Thu 24-Sep-09 17:06:27

Oh good - thanks. Yes I think I would need to do similar with vowels. For example yesterday DD had u in homework and she was saying uh - because she has done English letter sounds at nursery/at home. But in Gaelic u is oo.

moondog Thu 24-Sep-09 17:35:53

Welsh here too Doggie (which is phonetically very regular).
Make it very clear in your own head what sound each letter represents in each language.

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