When a child learns to read in a foreign language, an entirely new world opens up for them. Not only will they deepen their vocabulary, but they will also grow a much greater imagination from learning in a new language. While you may not realize it, encouraging your child to read in a foreign language in addition to speaking will help your child reach a higher level of fluency and will give them an advantage over other children their age.
While it may seem intimidating at first, you may be surprised to learn how quickly your child can pick up on new words and language.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind when reading in a foreign language.
You can transfer existing reading skills to learn a new language.
To an extent, a child’s existing reading skills can transfer from one language to another. A child who is proficient in their native language as well as somewhat proficient in speaking a second language will have a much easier time grasping that language in written format. The two skills can be brought together to enhance proficiency. In the beginning of learning a new language, it’s a good idea to spend time getting familiar with the new vocabulary and grammar. Once there is a certain level of comfort and mastery, then you can begin reading in the new language more intensively.
Ignore what you don’t understand.
While intensive reading is important and has its place, it should be limited so as not to interfere with enthusiasm and flow of learning to read in a foreign language. Another approach is extensive reading, where students read for the gist rather than trying to understand every detail. Context clues and repetition of vocabulary and grammar eventually help students to internalize and enjoy the learning process. The idea with extensive reading is that the focus is more on engagement than active studying, which tends to be more appealing to students.
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Depending on the level of your child’s language proficiency, learning-reading can be a great way to enhance the learning process. Children can use a number of their existing phonological awareness tools to read in a foreign language. While there are many variations, learning-reading involves listening to a native speaker as you read along in a foreign language book. This strategy can be very helpful in learning pronunciation, word spelling, and melody.
Practice makes progress
A good question to ask yourself is how much you want to learn in a given time period. Based on that information, you can set clear goals and create a plan of action. As with anything else, practice will get you closer to your goals than anything else. When reading in a foreign language, there are four steps you can incorporate into your regular practice routine for greater impact.
Step 1: Skim through the book to get a gist of what the book is about.
Step 2: Look up words you don’t know to learn their meaning and structure.
Step 3: Try to piece together the gist of the story together with newly learned words to see how it all fits together.
Step 4: Read from start to finish with speed and try to grasp the meaning as quickly as possible.
Group reading can be fun and beneficial
There are a few ways group reading can enhance the experience of reading in a foreign language. First, being able to hear someone read the words that you can visually follow along with will connect your auditory memory of the sound of words with your visual imprint of how they appear on a page. Second, in a group setting, you can take frequent pauses to recap or talk about the reading so far. Learning is always more impactful when you can engage and interact with others.
Reading in a foreign language has many benefits, both practical and personal. By reading in a new language, students can gain a deeper understanding of other cultures and behaviors, which will broaden their worldview. It can also be a great way to improve language and speaking skills that will certainly be applied in many aspects of life. By approaching this new skill with patience, strategy, and commitment, your child will master their new language in no time!