View Full Version : How to teach reading in 2 languages at the same time?

07-23-2011, 04:50 PM
I wasn't sure where to post this, so if it in the wrong place, sorry :o

My 4 year old is bilingual (English/Spanish). Spanish is my husband's first language and he has never spoken to our kids in anything but Spanish (I speak to them in English). It has worked out great and we are so happy that they seem to be Equally able to speak and undertand both English and Spanish up to this point.

I am now starting to teach my son to read (he is just starting to understand blending sounds and sounding out 3 letter words pretty well now). The way I have been teaching him is to understand a 2 letter sound, like a-t says "at", then add a letter to the beginning to make different words (c-at says "cat"). This seems to be a good for English, but not for Spanish. My mother in law, who is a kindergarten teacher in El Salvador sent me a book that they use to teach reading in El Salvador, and the method is different. They go through all the consinents, putting vowel sounds with them (i.e. "ba, be, bi, bo, bo"). Once the students can read all these combinations for all the letters then they can read words by breaking them into these two letter combinations to sound them out (so the word for map is "mapa" which is the sounds ma + pa = "mapa).

I origionally really wanted to teach my kids all subjects in both languages, alternating languages so that they build a vocabulary in both and are literate in both, but my concern is teaching them two different ways of beginning to read. Right now my son is doing great with the 3 letter English words, but he does still really have to think through the process of c+at says "cat" and I am afraid that if I start to teach him this other method of reading Spanish that it will just confuse him.

Sorry for the long story. I guess I am just wondering if anyone else has tried to teach literacy in two languages simultaniously? Do you know of any good resource books out there on how to do this?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

07-24-2011, 12:01 AM
I'm also doing Spanish and English, but DH is French so we're going to be doing three at once or maybe slightly staggered. My oldest is still only PreK so we haven't started teaching reading yet. I could use the advice too.

07-26-2011, 04:57 AM
So I talked with my father-in-law who is somewhat of an expert in bilingual education in the regular school system in California. He told me that traditionally bilingual schools always teach literacy in the weaker language first. That doesn't really apply to our situation though, because as far as I can tell right now my son seems to be equally fluent in both. But, he also said that they do tend to teach just one language first, and that literacy skills are pretty transferrable as long as the alphabets in both languages are somewhat the same (+/- a letter or sound here and there). So, I think I am going to teach him to read in English first because I feel like it is the harder of the two lanuages to read (Spanish is very phonetic and English has a lot more weird rules). So, I feel like if he gets the reading down in English then it will be easier to switch to Spanish than the other way around. We will see...