maritacoll asks:

Does anyone have a suggestion about early education for a bi-lingual (not bi-literate) child?

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR from an EXPERT how should a parent of a bilingual child (3 1/2 year old) should decide on the next couple of years of schooling.    My child currently attends 2 different pre-schools (2 days in Spanish, 3 days in regular Pre K in English).  He has 2 more years before he goes to Kinder and I am hoping he gets in a dual language immersion program.  Until then, I was told that sending him to 2 different schools right now is too muchfor him.  I want to choose then only Spanish for him until he goes to Kinder.  He handles both languages wonderfully now but since English is the dominant language, I wnat to keep the weak language going until he can have both in a bilingual education.  By that I mean being biliterate.  What would you do?    Anyone has a suggestion?  
In Topics: Choosing a school, Learning a second language
> 60 days ago



Aug 16, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hello!  I understand what it means to raise children in a bilingual home.  I was raised in a home that used more than one language and has served me very well to have had second language exposure at an early age.  In turn, I have raised my children with exposure to multiple languages, including Spanish and American Sign Language, in our home.  By doing so, this has eased their ability to communicate with others within our diverse school system.  I am glad to see that you are opting to do the same.  

Please keep in mind that many books are bilingual and also help teach language arts/ literacy.  A new book for kindergarten readiness is available by Cedar Valley Publishing which stresses early literacy skills in English and Spanish. This may prove very helpful as it has components for pre-writing and early writing skills.  The book is "wipeable" with a dry eraser.  Also, teaches skills such as learning numbers, letters, sight words and calling on a phone.  All in a bi-lingual manner.  There are many other books available that teach both English and Spanish simultaneously for writing and reading.

 In addition, have your child use the closed captioning on television programs to learn to read.  The caption can usually be set to English or Spanish.  Bilingual literacy can be taught by simply showing words on food boxes, can and signs in stores, as well.

At times, your child may make experience some confusion going back and forth between languages.  This is normal and will become less frequent as skills become stronger.  Consider a good dictionary for him that is age appropriate.  Thus, he can see the printed text to help him with learning words in both languages.  There are many age appropriate picture dictionaries.  On-line resources also are good, but can be a bit frustrating and may not be as portable.

Good luck and I am glad that you are allowing your child an enriched experience without overwhelming him.  Natural learning is a wonderful tool at his age.

Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families
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Additional Answers (1)

EducationAd... writes:
First, let me compliment you on the decision to raise a biliterate/bilingual child.  Bravo!  I am sure you are aware that research shows that simultaneous bilinguals, or children who grow up learning two languages at the same time (as it seems your child is), outperform their peers in school.  So, in answer to your question, I say use your best judgment; if it seems that your son is doing fine with the schedule, then stick to it.  Attending two different pre-K programs is not unlike going 3 days to pre-K and staying home for two.  If he’s showing signs of stress or anxiety (or if he just doesn’t seem to like it) then I commend your choice in sticking to the Spanish only school.  You may have noticed slightly delayed speech milestones (which is totally normal for simultaneous bilinguals).  Moving forward, you may also notice your child “code switching,” which means that he will form sentences using a combination of English and Spanish words.  This, too, is totally expected, and shouldn't be a cause for concern, nor should it be interpreted as a sign of stress or confusion.  If you'd like to hear more from me on this or any other educational questions, please follow me on Twitter where I tweet as EducationAdvice.
> 60 days ago

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