Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The 2 R´s-teaching reading & writing in the minority language

As a self-confessed bookworm myself,I have always been keen to install a love of reading in my children and looked forward to teaching my daughter to read in the minority language, English. One of my aims in our bilingual journey is that my children end up as near to "balanced bilingualism" as possible,which means also teaching them to read and write in their minority language. However, this has been more of a struggle than I first anticipated!

In the Spanish education system most children don´t start learning to read until they reach 5 years old whereas my daughter´s peers back in the UK start learning to read when they start school at 4 yrs old. In an attempt to try and start teaching my daughter on a par with the UK I bought the Jolly Phonics workbooks and also the Oxford Reading Tree(Level 1&2), which are used in the majority of primary schools in the UK but with a newborn baby to look after and a tired and not so enthusiastic daughter, didn´t get very far!

Now she has started learning to read & write in Spanish so I´ve renewed my efforts but still finding it a bit of an uphill struggle, finding the time to sit down and practice reading and writing and also motivating her. I   don´t know whether it´s because she has to process both languages so it is taking her longer to grasp reading  and that this is normal in bilingual children or whether it´s because she doesn´t appear to be very interested in learning to read, despite all my hard efforts.We have started again with the Oxford Reading Tree and are working our way through Level 1 and have almost started Level Two plus I have copied the words from the stories in Level 1 onto card to make flashcards,which we try to go through every other day.My husband is working with her on her Spanish reading & writing and she is working through her first"cartilla". I find the Spanish way of learning to read more boring and not as motivating as the Oxford Reading Tree.

I have both letter magnets and the National Literacy Strategy Magnetic Words for Reception on the fridge and  I form words such as the days of the week, the months or other words and also sentences on the fridge so my daughter can read them or make her own words or sentences or even just play with them. I have also looked at the website, which has many free resources including games and tips about how to encourage literacy and if you subscribe to it, you can access many ebooks. I´ve found a couple of fantastic pages on Facebook of blogs/websites about encouraging reading including Growing Book By Book and Reading Is Fundamental, both of which give good advice and have free resources.The Reading is Fundamental site has activity calenders for each month and for different ages, which you can print out in Spanish or English and do the activities each only problem is that I don´t have access to some of the books that are reccommended but we try to do what activities we can.

For now we are not doing much writing either as anything that looks like a worksheet or schoolwork is a distinct I´m trying to come up with fun ways for us to practice both reading & writing. I´m hoping the Junior Scrabble boardgame will help with writing/spelling and also with reading. So all in all it´s a slow process but we are getting there gradually. I have more ideas of how to help her with her 2 R´s but my main big hurdle is finding out how to motivate her.I also printed out a reading chart and after each book she finishes, she gets a sticker and when the chart is full she can get a treat,which seems to help a little with motivation.  At least she enjoys being read to and I´m going to try to do it every night as some nights we just don´t get round to it for one reason or another. Another thing I want to try is audiobooks as at least they will help her vocabulary and listening skills...while hopefully encouraging her to learn to read too(I hope!)She also watches SuperWhy occasionally, an American cartoon which focuses on literacy and reading skills,shown on Canal Panda in Spain, which she enjoys and I want to buy the set of Alphablocks, which has very good reviews on Amazon and is all about phonics. I´d love to hear your ideas and thoughts or experiences about teaching the two R´s in the minority language.