Once our children start to be able to read relatively confidently in our languages it is important to keep practising. Reading is not just about deciphering words, and the speed at which we do it (For more details about the skills required to read this post on Scarborough’s reading ropes). Of course, practice is crucial and encouraging our children to read in all their languages is important. However, in this post, I am going to explain why we should welcome (and not fear) books in the school language to support our children on their multi-literacy journey.
Here are the 3 main reasons we should welcome books in the community language:
1) For Practical Reasons: Finding more books our children enjoys
It takes a lot of time to find the books our children will enjoy. We can leverage the enthusiasm our children have for books they discover in the school language to then read them translated in the home language.
Let’s keep in mind that for this to happen we need to ensure our children see their ability to read in multiple languages as a way to have access to more books rather than a restriction. The enthusiasm for one book can then be transferred across languages. (Read this post for more details)
2) For Emotional Reasons: Nurturing the enjoyment of reading
If we want our children to read in our home languages, they need to enjoy it and to have the desire to read. (Watch this related video on 5 tricks to motivate our children to read and write in your home language)
With the amount they read in school, it is normal that our children’s reading skills develop faster in the school language (i.e. they can read more fluently and understand better the texts than in the home language). It is therefore easier for them to read on their own and enjoy aged appropriate stories.
Before we can expect our children read in their home language, we need to help them develop a love for reading (in any language!)
3) Linguistic: Developing vocabulary
In school, our children learn a wide range of concepts and words, through their lessons and by interacting with their teachers, and friends.
This means that when reading books, they can generally access more complex texts in their school language. By discussing with them what they read, not only do we keep up with their interests, but we can also effectively introduce our children to these new terms in our home language.
In turns, this helps our children have the range of vocabulary to enjoy similar books in the home language.
We can also read similar books in our home languages WITH our children. By reading WITH them, we help them access books they would enjoy but that might be a little difficult to understand fully.
Do you already welcome books in the school language in your home?
If you do, what are other benefits you see with books in the school language?