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About This Blog

This blog is for anyone interested in raising their children in a foreign language--meaning a language which neither of the parents speak natively.
We have used the approach where both parents speak the target foreign language (in our case, German) to the children. Neither of us is a native German speaker, yet we have spoken German in our home for the past 20 years and have 8 German speaking children. In this blog, we hope to share our successes, our lessons learned and a few of the insights that we've gained along the way.

Learning to read in two languages simultaneously has benefits!

As my first grader and two Kindergartners are learning to read, write and spell in English at our local elementary school, I am simultaneously working with them at home to teach them how to read and write in German. I ordered a 1st grade German school curriculum, Piri by Klett, which I really like. At home, during our German "homeschool" sessions, we are learning the sounds of the German alphabet and also how to sound out words and how to write sentences. It's fun to see them making progress. We're also working on reading skills.
Some people might wonder if learning to read in two languages is difficult for a child. Does one language system interfere with the learning of the other system? Does learning both languages at the same time delay learning in both languages? Well, I have found the opposite to be true. I can't speak for all languages, but I have found that learning to read in both German and English simultaneously has only helped my kids. There are so many reading skills that transfer between and strengthen both languages. To learn to read means that a child needs to make a connection between symbols, sounds, and meaning. That very process is happening in both languages. I have been amazed at how seldom my kids mix the two languages. If they are reading in German, they pronounce things in their German accent and according to how that letter is pronounced in German. Now and then, they'll get a little confused, but very rarely. For instance, the letters W and V are a little tricky. The German W is pronounced like the English V and the German V is pronounced like the English F. This can be a little troublesome and confusing. But, these incongruities haven't been huge stumbling blocks in their reading development. Once they're immersed in reading a certain language, their mind switches into that language's syntax and phonological rules. If they come across a word that is spelled the same in both languages, like Baby or Computer, they will pronounce it correctly for the language that they are currently using. 
I love seeing how the reading skills that they are learning at school are helping them read (in German) at home. As they learn how to better blend sounds in English at school, I also see their ability to blend sounds in German improve. And as we work on dividing big German words into syllables, I see them applying some of these same strategies with English words. 
I love this quote that I found on the University of Calgary website:
According to Rahat Naqvi from the Faculty of Education, “Research also indicates that elementary school aged children can benefit from reading in two languages at the same time without hindering their ability to be effective readers in English. Multilingual literacy interventions in mainstream schools, such as dual language books, build on children’s first and second languages.” - See more at: http://arts.ucalgary.ca/news/research-shows-children-can-learn-multiple-languages-simultaneously#sthash.FmiuGNLE.dpuf


As long as the kids are eager to learn to read, I suggest taking advantage of this desire. Encourage them to read in both (or all) languages that they speak. There are so many overlapping skills that they are able to apply to both languages. It just makes sense for them to be practicing these skills in both languages. Although there may be a small amount confusion or mixing of languages at first, I have found that it is minor and that it works itself out quickly. In the meantime, the kids are able to get a much better grasp of both (or all) languages and will enjoy all the benefits of biliteracy at an early age. What a great gift!


4 comments:

Bay Max said...

German is the most language that is spoken by almost 2 billion peoples around the world(German Training Chennai). Learning this language would give one self confidence to look the world in a different perspective(German Language Classes in Chennai). You have made me to realize that in a moment on reading this article. Thanks for sharing this in here. By the way you are running a great blog.

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Jhon Abraham said...

Learning second language would give one self confidence to look the world in a different perspective. You have made me to realize that in a moment on reading this article. Thanks for sharing this in here. By the way you are running a great blog.

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Sean said...

Genius idea! Too often I am up against the notion that "We're in America, everyone should speak English." But the world is getting smaller, and anyone with knowledge of a second (or even third) language definitely has a leg up on the competition. I applaud what you are doing, and imagine your children appreciate it as well.

Sean @ Excel Translations

Paul Miller said...


Learning second language would give one self confidence to look the world in a different perspective. You have made me to realize that in a moment on reading this article. Thanks for sharing this in here. By the way you are running a great blog.
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