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We know that youngsters learning a second language have many oral language strengths needed for early literacy development. They have an acuity for sounds, for example, and they know that sounds carry meaning in the shape of words. They develop a core vocabulary of ‘here and now’

words to satisfy their immediate communication needs quite quickly. And they seem to make the connection from sound to letter recognition quite easily. These are all important early literacy concepts and skills that are necessary for children to learn to ‘decode’.

In the long run, though, these children need to ‘grow’ a bigger vocabulary so that they will enjoy success in the later school years when reading comprehension becomes dependent on word knowledge that is taken from text books. We want to build a better foundation. We think this work can get an early start – in kindergarten. The dual language book project is supported by the following ideas:

  1. We want to involve the family and especially the parents in telling their children family stories that are interesting and that will expand or ‘stretch’ their mother tongue vocabulary.
  2. We want to link this vocabulary to an object that has family and cultural relevance—a family ‘treasure’.
  3. We want the child to bring the object to class, where we can support the story telling in English in small group work. We will write the stories in English and the first language of each child.
  4. We want to target ‘next words to know’ – and purposefully challenge the children to learn lots of new words related to the Family Treasures project.
  5. We want to encourage word play, through recycling activities and games that will lead to deep understanding of word meanings.
  6. We want to link the children’s stories to good children’s literature on the same theme that can be explored for meaning and personal connection.
  7. Most of all, we want to create a learning environment for curiosity, wonder, imagination, respect for and interest in diversity; and fun!

Welcome to our Family Treasures dual language book project!