Bi-Literacy – Using colours to differentiate language learning

We create bilingual resources by always having English written in blue and the other language in green. The benefits of this are that as the child picks up the English they tend to read the top line more and more allowing a teacher to ask even the youngester readers ‘Which colour are you reading’. For the teacher it is easier to identify to the child which colour or line they want read aloud as well as clarifying which line they shoudl be reading so that the child does not read a mix and muddle them all up.

It was lovely to see this report of a bilingual school in America who use a similar concept

Another thing Hoke learned in her year of student-teaching was writing Spanish words on her “word wall” in red and English words in blue.

“The point of the colors and the scarf is to learn to switch (languages),” Hoke said. “It’s not about translating; it’s about the mentality of it.”

In this school they teach in Spanish as their first language and English as their second language.  The teacher has a lovely signal to change language  a scarf which  she calls the “magic scarf” around her neck, and the students in her classroom know that now it is time to speak only English.

When discussing Bilingualism they talk about the benefits saying:

There are “several benefits of being bilingual besides the economic benefit of finding a job. Bilingual people are better at multitasking because they’re better able to focus on multiple things.”

Haegele said brain scans of bilingual and monolingual people have shown the difference — Haegele calling “the activity in the brain … phenomenal” in those who speak more than one language.

“It doesn’t prevent Alzheimer’s, but it tends to delay the onset of it from five to seven years,”  Haegele  said. “It exercises (the brain) more and allows it to kind of cope with some of those diseases longer.”

Said Hoke, “All the research shows that knowing two languages opens up and develops a part of your brain that otherwise might never develop.” Haegele said the bilingual program is “creating such opportunities for these students. Just so many things are positive about it. I wish I would’ve had it when I was a kid.”

Hoke said bilingual students’ social skills will develop far more quickly — in about a year — than their academic skills, which takes about five to six years.

The teacher estimated that perhaps half of her class of 21 students have reached the BICS level (basic interpersonal communication) level of social skills.

One thing we haven’t talked about is the atmosphere in the clasroom which I believe is really crucial. The space needs to be  a safe environment where the child can try out langauge without fear and again it was refreshing to see this mirrored in this story.  I think it takes a confident teacher to allow the child to believe that they are supporting them without losing face.

“At first you might be scared or embarrassed. You know you sound different. It is scary for some kids, especially if they’re a little shy or nervous. Some kids get very timid when they go into English time. I tell them it’s OK to make mistakes,” Hoke said, noting that she tells them that they’re helping her to learn as well.

To find out about our bilingual books go to the online store at EMASUK http://shop.emasuk.com/ and look out on our facebook page for offers http://www.facebook.com/EMASUK

 

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