Bilingual Books: a Gateway to Learning

Posted by Big Universe on Feb 11, 2013 12:26:31 AM

Buenos Dias!

Did you know that one in every ten households in the United States is an adoptive family?

The rise in international adoptions adds an extra dimension to a family's way of life, because their child brings with them a cultural heritage that may not be the culture they grow up in. Most families of adoption – like many biological families – do not want to rob their children of their cultural identity. Rather, they take concrete steps to celebrate it. We can do that in classrooms, too!

Bilingual children's books offer a way to introduce and bridge cultures. Your child or student may already speak at least some of his/her native language. If that's the case, then bilingual books can help you learn the language, not only improving communication, but showing them that you think their culture is important.

Books that have all the text in one language – whether it is English, Mandarin Chinese, or Arabic – are not bilingual books. They are foreign language children's books. These are wonderful books if you already know a language, but they may be a bit daunting (or downright discouraging) if you aren't familiar with it.

así que vamos a hablar en español los libros bilingüe
(Let's talk bilingual books)

There are two two types of bilingual picture books.

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Some bilingual books tell the story with parallel text. In these books, the English and (let's say Spanish) text are presented together on the same page, with an illustration on the facing page.

If you have had some training in the language, these books can help dust off the rust quickly, and you'll be reading comfortably in no time.

bilingual picture bookThe second type of bilingual book is a story where specific vocabulary words are inserted into the sentence, and you use the illustrations to help with the translation. "The vaca wandered from the farm." Vaca is Spanish for cow, and the illustration would likely have a cow walking out from her pen.

This style of presentation introduces the language through context, and is very useful when you want to begin building a vocabulary. You may learn simple phrases like "good luck," but you don't have enough immersion to create complete sentences.

Given the portability of books these days, many bilingual books come with CDs. All of the titles in the Teach Me ... series (Teach Me, for example, have parallel text and come with a book and CD. Hearing the language spoken correctly can help you and your child, too. I've not done any exploring, but I imagine there are read-to-me capabilities in children's book apps, too.

With bilingual stories, you can share more than just the languages of your family's heritage. You often learn about other cultural traditions and history. Myths, legends, and folklore are the foundation of every society's storytelling tradition. Whether you are reading (or listening to) a native story in English or another language, you are celebrating all that makes your child unique and yet also part of a global world.

Glückwünsche! Felicitazioni! Congratulations!

On you can choose from among nearly 60 bilingual children's books and easy readers, and hundreds more in traditional romance languages like French and Spanish to Arabic, Chinese, and Slavic languages.

Topics: Classroom Ideas, Integration Ideas

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