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Teach reading in which language
Thread poster: swvong
English to Spanish
Jun 19, 2006


need some advice/info. My daughter is only 26 months old and has developed a desired to read.

our background:
We've been following OPOL
Mom, Cantonese to daughter
Dad, Spanish to daughter
Mom and Dad Spanish to each other
Living in English speaking Canada

She comprehends both Cantonese and Spanish. Started putting two words together 3 months ago. Doesn't really speak much unless she wants something.

Our daughter has always been surrounded by books (English). She has always loved flipping through them by herself, or having us point out the different pictures in them. Never had the patience for stories, no matter how short. But since she learned her alphabet in English (3 months ago) from a toy by herself, she's been spelling everything that has letters on them. She has even started acting as she was reading the books. Now she wants us to read to her and she wants to read by herself as well.

I'm not trying to push reading, but I would love to help her if she really wants to read. But I'm not sure in what language I should try to teach her to read in.


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:34
+ ...
Whatever you decide, keep it fun! Jun 19, 2006

Your daughter is really very young to start reading, but if its a fun game for her, then why not.

As for which language... that's a more difficult one to call. Obviously, if the alphabet game has led to her interest then I would pursue that one. As Spanish is largely phonetic, perhaps that would be the one to start with. If dad has the time to put the effort in too. She will get English in school later.

My daughter Jana, (Nov 1998), who started reading in Catalan and Spanish (phonetically) seemed to have no problem picking up the apparently illogical English system between five and seven and now reads all three for pleasure.

(I think I have definitely helped foster her interest by plugging away at stories and poems every single night for the last six years or more)

Now, I have no idea about how Chinese characters are taught, nor when the best time to start teaching them is. I suppose Chinese kids start by having the meaning of public signs pointed out to them by their parents from day one.
I guess you have few opportunites for that at home, eh?

Personally, I cannot begine to imagine how a system with so many signs works. But it so obviously does.

Aren't kids marvellous? How do they learn so much in such a short time? I have been trying to teach myself to read music as an adult for twenty years and I still need to hear a tune first to know if what I think I am reading is what I should be playing.

Anyway, as a friend used to say on the bilingual families mailing list - "Whatever you do, do it with love!"

Good luck,


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:34
English to French
+ ...
When a child reaches out, give them something to grab Jun 20, 2006

I think that, in the case of such a young child, it is too early for the promotion of reading. It should stay something fun that she decides to do on her own. With that said, if she feels like reading, you have to make sure there are things to read around her.

I think that if you would like to have a child who will eventually speak four languages - maybe she will translate one day? - it's best that you leave it up to her. Cantonese doesn't use the same letters, so it might be too early to propose it to her. But by leaving some Cantonese language children's books lying around, who knows, she might feel like deciphering those. Just make sure she has plenty of choices, regardless of the language. As she seems like a child who takes her own initiatives, sooner or later, she will probably pick up just about any book, no matter what language it was written in.

It sounds like your child is a little genius. But the only way to allow for the development of a genius is to give them things to practice on.

Good luck - and congratulations for the smart kid! How did you do it?

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English to Spanish
reading as a game Jun 20, 2006

Thanks Berni and Viktoria,

You are right, she is too young for structured reading lessons.

It's just that Angelica (my daughter) loves books.
She doesn't really understand the stories when we are reading them to her. We need to do some acting out or describe more than what 's written. And now she is makes us point to the individual words to her when we are reading to her, almost like she wants to know exactly what each of them are saying.

And as a person who uses Chinese, Spanish and English, I definetely agree that Spanish would be the easiest to learn to read. Chinese is plain memorization of each character and English has too many broken rules.


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Local time: 19:34
Spanish to English
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Label cards for Angelica Jun 22, 2006

The main reason most kids don't learn to read at age two is that book print is too small for their young eyes to focus on. This is easily remedied by making signs in extra-large letters and affixing them to people and household objects. I also recommend Spanish for its phonetic simplicity. She will learn to read in English when she enters school. It should be totally a game for her and you. There was a book available back in the 1960's called "How to Teach Your Baby to Read" by Doman and Delacato. My two-year-old daughter got to be very good at reading label cards and picture cards, and transitioned naturally into reading real books before age 4. Ironically, when she had an accident and suffered brain damage at age 14, the psycho-patterning techniques of Doman and Delacato were exactly right for helping her to recover and create new neural pathways.

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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:34
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
the reading game Jun 25, 2006

I totally agree with Viktoria.
If and when a child is interested in something, feed this interest. That is the number one rule.

The child is learning something every day, and the time span of her interest may last from a few minutes to days or weeks. They usually concentrate on one thing at a time, and when they satisfy their curiosity at their level of capability, they embark on an other route.

Your "job" as a parent is to observe and help feeding this momentary interest. If she is not interested or looses interest, do not try to force any issue, being reading, nappy training or whatever. The time will come, when she will come back to the subject.

I would never use label cards. Cards with single words are not interesting, and being confronted with them is a sure way to make reading boring, making it a "program", an ambition for the parent, not the child.

There are books for children printed in larger letters. If she is curious about a particular word, there is pencil an paper, write it down in large letters and discard it later.

If it is the latin alphabet she is deciphering, continue to help her in that. Have Chinese books about as well.

Don't be unhappy, if in a week, few weeks she seemingly looses interest, because she is going to be concentrating on something different. Then you will have to help her in her new quest, and wait patiently for the time when reading is on her agenda again.

Spend a lot of time with her, and enjoy your little treasure.

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Mrudula Tambe  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:04
English to Marathi
+ ...
Teach the language you speak most Jul 3, 2006

Teach the language you speak most no matter with yourself or with others as it is proved by science that the child learns the language from mother's womb and responses to it more than to other languages. Also try to increase her interest in that language even the medium of education is different by bringing the story books of that language, rhymes' cassatte etc.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:34
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
All of them? Jul 5, 2006

swvong wrote:

And as a person who uses Chinese, Spanish and English, I definetely agree that Spanish would be the easiest to learn to read. Chinese is plain memorization of each character and English has too many broken rules.


I am not a teacher, but I would instinctively say, why not do all three? Sure, they are different in structure, but children don't have the same inhibitions about language as adults do. I think starting early and being consistent is the key. My daughter started kindergarten this year and in short order learned to read in English, Latvian and Spanish simultaneously (not with exactly equal proficiency, of course - her Latvian is the weakest of the three). She had English and Spanish at school and Latvian at Saturday school.

That said, I would not push your daughter to do anything formal at this stage. My daughter is 6, and before kindergarten we followed her lead on how much writing/reading practice she wanted, which was not much, although she liked to look at books. Entering kindergarten she could recognize letters and write her name, but that's it. I think before they gain that proficiency, they're taking in all sorts of information until they are mature enough for the next step.

I agree that using all kinds of media helps, too, by making things more interesting! I think that's what saved my daughter's interest in Latvian, which was pretty low!

[Bearbeitet am 2006-07-05 14:00]

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