Bilingual books are wonderful tools to help create a bridge between languages. They give teachers the opportunity to educate children in the school language, while at the same time they foster an appreciation for the home language. Bilingual books encourage parents to continue using their home language, knowing that it will benefit, not detract from, their children’s school language learning.
Below are 10 tips on how teachers and parents can use bilingual books in the classroom and at home to help children excel in language skills as well as to encourage cultural appreciation.
Did you know that parents who read to their children in a home language can actually help strengthen their children’s academic skills? It is true! This is in addition to many other benefits, such as strengthening the parent-child bond through shared language and culture.
Teachers can use bilingual books not only to introduce students to languages that use the Roman alphabet, but also to those languages that use different symbols and characters. Seeing that languages can be written using a variety of letters and scripts helps children understand that sounds and words can be represented in diverse ways. As the teacher reads the bilingual book aloud, she can point out the different words or symbols in the second language.
When teachers select bilingual books that focus on different cultures, traditions and customs, they are helping children feel comfortable with cultural diversity. It is a gentle way for teachers to cultivate multicultural awareness and appreciation in their students.
Bilingual books provide the opportunity for discussion on the same topic in more than one language. Teachers can promote discussion in the school language while parents can encourage it in their language. Teachers can send home a list of discussion topics for parents to utilize at home if they wish. Meanwhile, parents should feel encouraged to share conversations from home about the target bilingual books with their child’s teacher.
Discussing the various topics, the words, the different written scripts, and the funny letters in a language’s alphabet are just a few ways teachers can make languages fun and exciting for their students. Parents can help their children learn about the school language by asking questions about words, pronunciation and more in the bilingual books that their children bring home. In our effort to reach language mastery, we often forget that enjoyment is the most important ingredient for language success.
The goal is to help our children embrace all of their languages so that as they grow they will be able to use these languages with confidence and pleasure in the many multilingual and multicultural situations in which they may find themselves. Reading and enjoying bilingual books is one great way to help our children achieve this goal.