HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY USA! WOO! :D
I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the July 2014 issue! The print version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (check out page 16), or read it below!
I hope you like it!
The Benefits of Bilingual Picture Books
I got the idea for this article when I reviewed C.L. Murphy’s picture book “The Adventures of Loveable Lobo: Lobo visits the Barnyard” and saw that the book is also available in Spanish (“Las Aventuras Del Adorable Lobo: Lobo visita la Granja”). In the book, a friendly wolf is visiting one of his friends at the barnyard. He proceeds to get a tour of the barnyard and meets lots of animals. I looked at both English and Spanish versions of the book side by side and before you knew it, I was learning the Spanish words for barnyard animals. Because of this, I did some research on using picture books to learn other languages. I found that learning a second language can really help kids in the future. An article on Scholatic.com states the importance of learning a second language. It says; “Research shows that students of foreign languages tend to score higher on standardized tests and demonstrate improved school performance overall. Additionally, evolving opportunities in the global workplace make knowing an another language a significant advantage.” Learning a foreign language gives kids more opportunities.
Picture books are a great tool for helping kids learn to read in any language. An article on the Reading is Fundamental website says “Picture books help young children understand that words convey meaning, well before they are aware of the text. Pictures can help increase vocabulary, an important building block for reading. Books can help young children identify colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, as well as names of people, places, animals, and everyday objects.” Because of this, picture books are especially helpful to learn a foreign language no matter what age you are.
Bilingual picture books can help make this happen. Picture books are usually less than five hundred words long and therefore can be used to learn simple phrases and words in a foreign language. A pamphlet published by the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR) called “How to Use Bilingual Books” names three types of bilingual books that are useful for teaching second languages. One type has the words in both languages next to each other in the text. This type of book may have a line that reads “Bonjour!” dit la fille. / “Hello!” said the girl. Another type of bilingual book is having the same book printed in two languages (like the Adventures of Loveable Lobo books I wrote about earlier). I find having the same picture book in two languages is very helpful in learning words from a foreign language. The third type of bilingual book is one where there are some words in another language sprinkled within the story. For example, “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of acqua” (Italian for water).
A 2007 study published by the National Education Association called “The Benefits of Second Language Study” shows that exposing kids to bilingual books and other languages helps them become better learners in all kinds of subjects. The study shows that teaching kids a foreign language helps “higher order, abstract and creative thinking” and achieve higher scores on standardized tests.
Teachers can use bilingual books in their classrooms, too. The NCCLR pamphlet suggests that teachers can pick a paragraph from a picture book or even just one or two words from a foreign language and read and talk about the words in the foreign language as an introduction for students to different languages.
Even if it isn’t the goal to become fluent in the language, exposing kids to words and phrases from different languages helps them become better learners. Picture books can help you do that.
For more on books and reading go to / For mer om bøker og lesing går til (Norwegian)