Bilingual read a louds are wonderful ways to add immersion experiences and expose kids to vocabulary and pronunciation. It takes a bit of pre-work but it will be a special time to bond with your child. Associating your language with something positive, like a cuddly bedtime story, will add to you child's motivation to learn.
Here are 8 tips to make your bilingual read alouds successful.
- Pick an easy book that kids already know and love.
- Read the book ahead of time and try to figure out the translations you are comfortable with.
- Have the native speaker read the book so kids can hear the correct pronunciation.
- Pause for interaction - ask what will happen or if the kids can guess a word or phrase. If there is a repetitive phrase - teach it to the kids to say with you.
- Aim for CONTEXTUAL Translation - not LITERAL translation. Say what makes sense in your language.
- Sentence structure is different in South Asian languages and English. For example, in English, sentences are structured as Subject-Verb-Object "I want water" while in Malayalam (& other South Asian languages) the structure is Subject-Object-Verb "Enikku wellum wenum".
- There may be several words in your South Asian language which could mean one English word. Choose what makes sense for a child to say. Opt for simplicity over formality.
- Don’t mimic English directly - teach the kids what you want them to say and know in your language.
- It's OK to make mistakes. If you mess up a word, don’t worry. You are modeling behavior for your own kids - if they make a mistake they will know it's ok and you can recover.
- Teach from the book. Review key vocabulary words and one phrase for the kids to remember and try out that week.
- Use a puppet or a doll! If being silly and fun doesn’t come naturally to you, put something in between and take on a new character. Kids learn through play!
Try this at home - not only will you teach your language, you will have so much fun and build memories with your kids.
If you try it - please send us a pic with the hashtag #bhashakidsreadaloud