HELP! in which language to read children's books?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2002
HELP! in which language to read children's books?
8
Sat, 03-17-2012 - 2:34am

I find this one to be a puzzler in my home, I get French book each time someone from my family comes, and I purchase a lot of them in local bookstores that are in English, but more often than not I find myself translating them in French as I read, because I try to stick to the one parent one language thing. And baby books are fairl easy to translate, because they are mostly one word books with pictures, so when she sees a picture of a dog it's just too easy for me to say "Chien" instead of dogs.

Now DD is getting older, and books have simple stories, she LOVES hearing me read the French version of the Mr Men and Little Miss my mom brought with her last January. She also gets 2 books to take home fro the weekend from playschool, they are in English, and I actually struggle with these. I'm thorn between just reading them in English as they are meant to and throw the whole one parent one language thing out of the window, or stick to my principles and read them in French. Honestly I wouldn't be that confused if the school didn't rub my nose in the fact they think it is not good to speak another language other than English at home right now as the Indian school system is highly competitive and they claim her not speaking English at age 2.5 years is a big issue :(

What would you do in this situation, read foreign language books in their original language to your kids even though you chose to speak another language with them in the first place, or would you translate them?


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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-01-2012
kids exposed to and who learn more than one language early in life will retain the ability way into adulthood and actually 'lay down' language in a different area of the brain compared to people who learn a second language in their teens or adulthood..
I live in australia, only speak english and have absolutely no capability when trying to learn new languages, so I don't know if my advice / opinion counts for anything at all.. but.. if i had the ability, i would read the books in both languages.. eg see the picture of the dog and say Chien then Dog.. for longer stories, maybe read them in the language they have been written, then translate them to the opposite.. while telling DD that is what you are doing
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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2002

Thanks for your advice, it makes sense, though I have no idea if she would understand if I explained the why of reading in two languages yet. Any idea at what age do kids grasp the concept of different language? My daughter is so far a typical bilingual kiddo who is speaking later than others exposed to just one lanugage (she is dealing with 3) and she is still in that stage where she mix things up, for her some words are English and she will say them only in English, and others in French, no hindi yet.
She will point to a "poisson" if I ask her in French to show me were it is in the books, but if she sees one she will say fish, which is how poisson translates in English, that she must have learner from school or from her Dora the explorer DVDs which are in English.


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Registered: 02-01-2012
look at the tv shows.. dora the explorer, diego, handy manny.. where the cartoon characters flick between languages constantly.. my twin boys were late talkers, only starting to form 2-3 word sentences at 2.5-3yrs.. but they recognised that dora speaks more than one language at around 3.5
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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2002

True, I should maybe start reading books Dora style then :)

I admit her school actually got me all confused with the language issue...sigh!


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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-01-2012

:) yeh look i understand that the teachers are in a 'driven' environment and pushing kids to get the marks from the first day, but have faith in your belief that multiple languages with assist your DDs academics in the long run

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2002

Thanks :)
I know the more language she learn early the best, and yes it does help develop communication skills too, so I just wonder why the school is so anti billingualism....sigh! For all they know at this stage my daughter could become a successful interpreter, and India is an emergin market, surely knowing a foreign language fluently as a native tongue is an asset.
I know it is already so, worked on these very skills being a French native speaker, first in a call center where I could just get a higher salary from calling France in French and then as a freelance tanslator and tutor. I no longer do these now, my full time work being raising my daughter :)


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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-27-2012
I would try books on tape and then perhaps discuss them while reading. On the other hand, why not read them yourself if you are comfortable in the language? Growing up near New Orleans, we'd learn French songs and such. The teacher would explain the story or song in English first. I think the only advantage to learning from native speakers only has to do with obtaining accent-free pronunciation. In many parts of the world, English is used as an international language of business, so I wouldn't consider that a problem in your case. Function over form!

At 3, my little bilingual cousin was already playing tricks on her classmates - telling them the wrong German words for things and then laughing at them. Her older brother caught her in the act and put a stop to it. ;-)

- JM

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Registered: 03-19-2002

India having English as a national language no need to worry about accents, there is a definite Indian accent and whole set of idioms specific to the country. After 8.5 years in the coutry I actually picked up a slight Indian accent so not much of an issue.

I started reading books in English to DD, she listens, and she also make her own commentaries about the pictures pointing to specific items and saying a mix of French and English words to name them


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