Five Ways to Celebrate Bilingual Literacy Month
Exposing Hispanic children to a bilingual environment early on is vital to build their confidence as well as to provide them with the tools they need to successfully navigate the fascinating world of speaking two or more languages. As we celebrate the Bilingual Literacy Month in May, here are some useful tips to encourage the little ones at home to read both in English and Spanish:
1. Listen to music
Music is a powerful tool to learn a new language. Listen to popular songs in Spanish. Whether it’s Celia Cruz or bilingual children’s music, develop a habit of playing music at home to train your children’s ears and expose them to different sounds in Spanish. If they’re older, look up the lyrics online and read them as you sing with your children so they become familiar with new words and expressions.
2. Try new Hispanic recipes
A delicious meal can go a long way in developing a fondness for a culture. Cook with your children and teach them how to make some typical dishes from your country of origin whether that is pozole, pupusas, ropa vieja, casado, or paella. As you set up the kitchen to start cooking, encourage them to read the recipes out loud with you to make the experience all that much more entertaining.
3. Visit a library
Go to your local library and visit the section of international or foreign literature. Look up children’s books devoted to world-renowned leaders and artists. Read to them about important Hispanic figures such as Cesar Chávez, Sonia Sotomayor, or journalist Jorge Ramos.
It’s important to show them successful Hispanics in the U.S., and how being bilingual helped them pave their road to success in this country, whether it was in the political arena or sharing the latest news on television.
4. Write down new phrases
Develop a habit of teaching your children new words in Spanish every day. Have a blackboard at home and write a new word or phrase along with its translation to build on their vocabulary.
An easy way to help them memorize and remember each new word is by integrating it into your daily conversation or playing a game with them where they need to use it throughout the day.
5. Watch movies/TV shows with subtitles
Is there a TV show or movie you enjoy watching together as a family? There’s an increasing number of movies and shows that emphasize sharing the wealth and breadth of the Hispanic culture. One of the most recent examples is Disney’s movie Coco. There’s a Spanish version of the animated film and a way to expose your children to adding new vocabulary is by adding subtitles to the movies.
There are children’s TV shows with strong Hispanic influences, such as Dora The Explorer, Pocoyo, or Handy Manny. The more kids are exposed to bilingual shows early on, the easier it will be for them to successfully navigate both languages.
These are some of the many ways you can encourage your children to read both in English and Spanish, and make the experience of growing up in a bilingual environment fun and entertaining.
Another way to help them become familiar with reading in Spanish is by joining Read Conmigo.
Read Conmigo is a bilingual literacy program sponsored by Infinity Insurance that aims to encourage families all across the United States to read with their children in English and Spanish. Joining Read Conmigo is free and as a member not only will you receive books for free, you’ll also gain access to a digital library with a myriad of resources to raise your children in a bilingual environment.
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