What tips and tricks do you use to give your children more minority language input?
I've been making more of an effort this year to read in English to my kids. They come home from school for lunch, so I eat before they get home, and then make use of the "captive time" they are at the table to read to them. I find short chapter books are perfect for this, things like Mrs Piggle Wiggle, Magic Treehouse books.
I also had them pick a member of the family in the US to write a letter to, and hope that if we can get some correspondence going that will help their desire to use English more.
Yes, reading aloud has long been the bedrock of my efforts with bilingual kids, first as a teacher and now as a parent. As Alisa suggested, meal times (I read to my kids at breakfast) are ideal because children are a "captive audience" then, chewing and listening like wide-eyed calves.
On the subject of reading, one my "bilingual resolutions" for this year has been to maintain a flow of comic books in the minority language into our house. My kids eat them up, which significantly increases the amount of time they spend reading on their own. This hasn't been easy (and it's getting kind of costly!), but I placed an order for another ten "graphic novels" just last night.
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
I have preschool-aged children, and my oldest daughter LOVES crafts and making things out of paper and cardboard.
We just spent an afternoon making a cardboard calendar out of cereal boxes, tape, and crayons which we are changing daily. More than the language input, I think the best thing about this was that she was excited to be doing something in French (not her usual attitude!).
It says: "Today is (day of week), the (date) of (month). The weather is (sunny). So far they love changing the numbers, days and weather!
I have used bath time as captive reading time. When the oldest was about 3 I grabbed one of those erasable doodle pads she happened to forget in the bathroom. I wrote a syllable and held it up during her bath. She read it. I wrote some more, she read that too. Russian reading is taught via syllables so I'd think of a sentence like "mama ate soup" and then write each syllable she didn't know, show it to her and sound it out. Then I'd write the words. Our doodle pad is small, so only one word would fit at a time. I think that's good because one word doesn't look as scary as a page full of text. Plus she loved reading about us. Each day would be 4 sentences, one for each family member. "Papa went to work" "Mama sits here" "Mila is sleeping" "Natalie wants to go to the park". Sounds simple, but it was one of her favorite bath activities for almost two years. Now the pad is worn out and the girl is so big she decided to take showers....
I'm thinking maybe getting a suction cup with one of those clear sheet sleeves and then putting it up on the bathroom mirror and print out the reading material to go in that sleeve. Its the closest I can come to Adam's captive reading setup.
Tatyana, my mother read Anne of Green Gables to me during bathtime...we read the entire series together like that and it really fostered my love of reading. She did that long after I was ''too old'' to be taking baths.
English speaking Canadian Mom, French speaking Dad, happily transitioning to minority language at home (English) with our baby daughter in France.
I try to spend as much as time as possible with them doing things while we talk. It does not have to be really fancy but a walk on the beach and a hot chocolate afterwards can be a great opportunity to increase the time in the minority language and also a great chance of using new vocabulary as we describe what is around. Also playing games together. I always carry cards in my bag and if we need to wait somewhere we play a few games. Helping mum to make dinner is also another lovely minority time of the day.
Reading out loud is also our base for the bilingual journey. It does not matter the day, how late it is, how sick we are, we always read. My kids even refuse to go to bed if they are not read to. I am sure we would never have gotten so far without our 30 minute daily reading before bed. It is really a moment that the kids and myself enjoy deeply. A. says that I have to read out loud to him until he goes to live on his own and that even then, maybe he would call me everyday so I read to him.
I've come a couple of years late but I'd like to share an interesting link from the British Council on practical tips to teach English to your kids, and the good news is that it could apply to any language really.
Hope it can give some inspiration for those looking for it!
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
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Amy: Just received your novel Adam, just in time for the weekend! I already read 3 chapters and am loving the style! Congrats!
Feb 10, 2018 6:25:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's so nice to hear, Amy! I look forward to more impressions as you continue reading!
Feb 10, 2018 10:46:14 GMT 9
Mayken: After writing a letter in the ML to her new friend for whom it is the ml, my daughter is now on the phone with her friend from ml country. (And hiding in her room with my phone. No more phone cords to hold her back.)
Feb 11, 2018 23:13:29 GMT 9
Nellie: Book ordered Adam!
Feb 15, 2018 6:20:36 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - so cute! The terrible teens are approaching!
Feb 15, 2018 6:21:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nellie, thank you! I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your impressions!
Feb 15, 2018 6:34:04 GMT 9
Wojtek: I found sample Eiken tests on grade 5 and 4 (There was Adam's article) and did the first part with my daughter (20 questions). On Grade 5 she did 16 of 20 correctly and on grade 4: 12 of 20. Not so bad though. She failed those where grammar was included.
Feb 15, 2018 20:43:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, your daughter is still very young so I would say those are really positive results! Your efforts are clearly producing a lot of progress. Good for you, and good for your daughter!
Feb 16, 2018 7:52:23 GMT 9
Undraa: A big congrats from my end to you for your new book Adam!
Feb 16, 2018 16:50:56 GMT 9
Wojtek: Big thanks, Adam. Those tests on grade 5 are so basic but anyway they prove that my girl understands them and knows the answers. That was quite interesting experience.
Feb 16, 2018 16:54:32 GMT 9
Wojtek: Congratulations on your book, Adam! I read the beginning on Amazon and as always I have the impression you took several pages from the dictionary with a range of sophisticated words and just put them in. That's why the book will be very valuable for me.
Feb 16, 2018 17:01:19 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, thanks! Even if you're unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I think the lively story will carry you through the book. I hope you enjoy it, and also find it useful for your English!
Feb 16, 2018 18:43:12 GMT 9
Dani: Hi everyone, It has been a while... Congrats on your new book Adam! Would love to get a copy too.
Feb 17, 2018 8:30:36 GMT 9