Teaching English to Bilingual Kids
Teaching English to bilingual children can be a challenging task. The teachers at school need to customize their English lessons for bilingual toddlers from diverse backgrounds for a better bilingual development in early childhood. They should make sure that their English lessons have been personalized for bilingual children and are culturally appropriate. This makes meaningful teaching possible. When the bilingual kids hailing from diverse cultures learn English, they might feel difficulty in memorizing the English vocabulary. Bilingual kids are more likely to mix up the new language with the one they speak otherwise. Different systematic cultural differences should be kept in mind by the teachers while teaching English to bilingual kids. Being aware of the cultural differences of the bilingual kids and respecting these differences is essential for everyone at school. Being bilingual should be seen as a strength, rather than being a disadvantage.
Here is how the bilingual kids can be taught English effectively:
Relating English alphabets to prior language
If a kid is learning English and it has similar alphabets as his mother tongue, then learning two languages at the same time will make them a stronger reader. According to the latest scientific research, it is beneficial to read and write in two different languages at the same time. Undoubtedly new knowledge is learned by the children on the basis of their prior knowledge. The kids, therefore, learn a new language by relating the new information to prior knowledge. Therefore, to teach English to bilingual kids, you just need to learn regarding the other language they know and then find common sounds and alphabets between the two languages. It is always easier to learn something familiar and having a prior knowledge regarding new information is necessary to understand and memorize it. Therefore, the teacher should use a bilingual kid’s prior language as a base and foundation to make him learn English. The teacher should pay close attention to the learner and use the knowledge he/she already have as a starting point for teaching English. This whole strategy will lead to speedy bilingual language development in early childhood of bilingual children.
Discuss and Talk
As a teacher, you should first discuss the content of your English lesson with the bilingual kid so that he/she can revise the concepts in his mind. Try to ask the bilingual kids about their prior knowledge and activate their basic knowledge. This will also help you figure out the relationship between the kid’s prior knowledge and new knowledge you’re going to give them. In this way, the kid will grasp the relationship between two languages and make useful connections between them.
Multimedia Rich Content
Try to make it as interesting as you can. Make the kids watch documentaries and movies in English that will help them learn about names of different objects. They will start picking up new words and this will surely improve their performance.
Hence, special attention should be given by the teachers regarding the lessons being meaningful and purposeful for all the bilingual children in the classroom equally. A school can have students from various communities and backgrounds. The teachers must make sure that the bilingual children are understanding the lessons fully and are on the same track as the other kids.
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