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Teaching how to read to a bilingual child

My son is going to be three soon and he's fully bilingual. I've only ever spoken italian to him (my mother tongue) and let hubby and the rest of the environment take care of the english side of things and it has worked great for us. He knows that when he speaks to me (or my family back home) he has to use italian and english to everyone else. Now that he's coming close to three though I want to start teaching him how to read and I'm not sure how to go at it. I can find tons of resources on how to teach reading to a child in english but very little in italian and I am not so sure it's a good idea to concentrate on only teaching him italian and leave the english to the school system. But at the same time I've never spoken english to him (apart from reading the odd book at nighttime if he picks an english one over an italian) and I don't want him to get confused (and possible confuse myself too :( )

So, any parents out there who have experience in teaching how to read to their bilingual children? Any tips you'd love to share? Language systems that you've loved and would rec to anyone within a mile radius?


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
I do not have first hand experience, but my cousin's daughter was raised bilingual - French at home and Dutch in school, and she has a pretty bad vocabulary/grammar usage in Dutch, she's better at speaking French but not so good at writing it. I think it's important to focus on both at home, but I'm no example because I hardly speak Dutch to my daughter heh.
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
See I can already see my son's vocabulary is better in Italian than in English because I actually make an effort to talk to him and explain everything I'm doing and everything we're seeing. That's why I want to try to teach him both at home because I'm sure he would be the better for it, I'm just not sure how to do it :(
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Well I think it's important to stay on top of his school work - is there perhaps a chance your husband or another family member could focus on his English with him, or his homework? I'm sure that would help a lot.
Sep. 12th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
We'll definitely both be on top of his school work but it's a little early for that now :) He's only going to turn three in October
Sep. 12th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
I am raising bilingual children (Finnish and English, and we live in a Finnish-speaking environment, aka Finland).

My gut feeling is to avoid trying to teach him anything in English as it's not your native tongue. Even though I know how to speak and read Finnish, I don't with my children. I think I would make mistakes or miss some of the nuances, so I believe all things Finnish lie in my husband's realm of responsibilities.

I'm not teaching my daughter (4 years) to read, per se, but I did buy a learn-to-read English program that has flash cards, books, workbooks, computer games, and CDs that are all age appropriate for my child. She really enjoys doing the computer games and flash cards for now and that's cool--they've helped her learn the letter sounds, rhyming words, and how to read/spell one to three-letter words. And of course, we read a lot of books! But like you said, there are a lot of English resources out there!

Is there any way you can get in touch with a grade-school teacher in Italy to see how they teach basic reading? Or is there an Italy/Italian LJ community you can post to and ask for learning-to-read resources?

Edited at 2009-09-12 08:20 pm (UTC)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )