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 book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
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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Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9