Photo by phil wood photo

Photo by phil wood photo

During the past weeks we’ve been dedicating some time to the topic of reading to bilingual kids.  Last week we launched our new monthly series ReadMe where we’ll showcase a bilingual/Spanish children’s book and author.  We also posted an article sent to us by Deanna Lyles ( titled “Raising Bilingual Readers:  The Art of Reading to Children in a Bilingual Home.” We highly recommend reading to your children as a language motivator and we’ll continue to explore this topic with you.

Today’s Ask an Expert question was sent by Silvia from Mamá Latina Tips.  She digs deeper in to the topic of reading by exploring when is the right time to teach a child to read in a second language.

To answer this question we’ve invited one of the excellent experts in our panel, Barbara Pearson, Ph. D., respected researcher and author of the informative and extremely useful book Raising a Bilingual Child.

This is the book that got Roxana and me started and we highly recommend to you, as we stated in this post: Top 10 Books For Parents Raising Bilingual Children.

When Should My Child Learn to Read in Spanish?

“My son is five years old.  He is reading in English and making a lot of effort to read in Spanish (which I think is easier, I tell him this every day! I think he is getting it though).  He is also writing in English and he will start kindergarten in the Fall. So my question for the expert is: At what age or school grade should I start working at home with him to improve his writing and reading skills in Spanish?”

Dear Silvia,

You have discovered on your own what our study of 1000 children in Miami revealed. It is easier to learn to read in Spanish than English.In our study, children who learned to read in Spanish and English at the same time read quicker and better than those taught in English only. I have heard people insisting that you should not start a child reading in two languages at the same time, but we found that it worked very well.

You are right that it is very important for your son to go beyond speaking in Spanish. Just because people can speak, doesn’t mean they can write in it.His knowledge of the language will be so much deeper, if he can read it and write it, too.

I would just caution you to make sure your Spanish sessions are enjoyable for the boy and that he doesn’t see them as a chore.You want him to have only positive feelings about your language. Make sure he feels he’s getting special attention from you—and he doesn’t feel he’s missing out on something else to do Spanish.

We invite you to click on the Ask an Expert tab in the navigation menu to meet the panel, to learn more about their area of expertise and to send us your question.

Have any tips to share on how and when to teach your child to read in a second language? We´d love to read them!

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