Raise a Successful Bilingual Reader – reading in two languages

Below are ten simple, yet powerful steps to take to develop your child into a rapid-reader (even if they cannot read yet). These steps will also help your child learn to read in both his/her primary and secondary language. Best of all, these steps are proven to work, and are simple to execute.

What if my child is not of reading-age yet? These same tips apply! But, instead you are reading books out loud to your child, and they are gaining the benefit of learning language at such a young age!

1.    Your child must see YOU reading books.

Step 1 is definitely unexpected, but completely necessary. Before you can take the other steps to help; you must first lead by example. Your child is heavily influenced by your behaviors, and will mimic what you do. Of course, this is stronger at a young age – such as the age of reading development. Make sure you are diving into a book at least once a week. While they are watching a cartoon? While they are doing homework? As long as your child SEES that you are reading, and it is important, they will be more likely too.

2.    Make reading fun, enjoyable, and anxiously awaited.

Reading competes with video games, television, computers, smartphones, and even playing outside. Many parents turn reading into a chore at an early age; as they feel pressure to make their child succeed. “I HAVE TO read him a book every night, or he will fall behind!” is a common mindset. Use puppets, act scenes out, or have a ‘go-to’ reading spot. Maybe you go to your child’s favorite playground and then read a book afterwards every Saturday. Tie reading into fun, excitement, and pleasure.

3.    Let your child choose the book.

Go to the local library every week and have your child choose an appropriate reading-level book. But they are IN CONTROL of their choice. (Maybe afterwards, go for a fruit smoothie? These two activities will be paired within their mind) Or, have them browse the eBook store on your tablet or device; choosing what they want.

4.    Reward your child with books and similar prizes.

Some parents give their child $10 for every A on their report card. This is not heavily recommended as it ties behavior to money; when the behavior should be individually accounted for. A better idea would be to take your child to a bookstore after each report card. Maybe they get a book for every A they get? This is again, tying hard work-reward-happiness-choice-control in your child’s mind. Not only is your child making good grades, but excited to get to READ new books – worth the investment, eh?

5.    Develop a Bilingual Language Action Plan.

Not as hard as it sounds, it can be done in 5-10 minutes. You (and any other family members involved, such as your spouse) must sit down and discuss how your child will be immersed in both languages (or more). Most common and highly effective choice: 1 parent, 1 language. This is where mom, for example only speaks Spanish to the child at all times, no matter what. And, dad, for example, only speaks English to the child at all times. There are more options, such as Mom – only Spanish, when as a Family – only Spanish, and Dad – only English when alone with the child. The point is: it must be discussed and set in stone for it to work.

6.    Immerse your child with media from both languages (TV, Movies, Internet)

This is a VERY COMMON and detrimental problem for children learning a secondary, non-native language in the country of residence. As an example, in the state of Texas there is a relatively huge population or Spanish speakers and parents teaching their children Spanish is their first language at home. But, more often than not, these children only watch TV, Movies, and play video games in English. Upon entering school, they are generally taught to read in English and most instruction in English. Because of this, they lack of full spectrum of understanding; and are not able to read or write at an articulate level. Have your child spend 50% of their time with media from each language.

7.    Be educated on HOW your child is being taught to read (from their school)

As a parent, you must understand how children learn to read. Of course, there are various methods, and you need to be educated on the method your child’s teacher is currently using. Schedule a quick 30 minute appointment to ask the teacher some basic questions. They will review their method; this will allow you to reinforce skills at home, in a more effective manner. So many times, parents and teachers are counter-effective; by not communicating with each other about their method of instruction.

8.    Use Bilingual Language-Learning Materials.

It is important to supplement: oral instruction (if you are teaching your child a 2nd language at home), school programs, media (TV, DVDs, tablet, computer), and basic books with rich materials. Benny’s Bilingual Book Adventure offers not only entertainment for your child, reading development, 2nd language development, but also teacher character values. The Book Adventure has value, because it is an ongoing, long-term approach. Rather than reading a book here and there, or giving up on your “bilingual phases”; the adventure is ongoing, and takes only 15-30 minutes of your child’s time to continue learning.

9.    Spend at least once a week, letting your child read to you.

Have your child read a simple story in English. Then, have them read the same story in Spanish (if a bilingual book). Have them read a book in each language; and give them back up with difficult words and pronunciation. This won’t be “homework” but rather enjoyable time spent together. Don’t forget to Praise, Compliment, High-Fives, and everything in between. Feedback that you are doing a good job is the best motivation of all. Of course, this tip is only for reading age children.

10.    Pat yourself on the back – take pride that your child can read. [and in 2 languages]

You are fighting the good fight. You should be proud that you want your child to stand out from the crowd and be different. Some may say you are “confusing your child” with both languages – you know that what you are doing is difficult, but completely worth it. Bravo to you. Bravo.

Want the perfect books for bilingual reading and language-learning? Get BookLingual: Complete Spanish for Kids now.

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