Nothing feels quite like reading a good storybook with your child in your lap.
Our family has a few favorite picture books that are so loved, many dog-eared pages have tape on them, grimy finger smudges on them, and everyone (especially mommy) has the words memorized! For us, its Dr. Seuss ABCs and anything by Richard Scarry.
Our children go back to these books again and again because they want the experience of entering the world of the book through the words and pictures, which usually happens when sitting in the lap of a trusted, loving adult in their life.
Books with a good story and pictures can transport our children to another place or time. Books can also give the child a "Hey, that's me!" feeling of familiarity when they experience a story about a child like them or activities they do.
And in the case of second language learning, provide a perfect context to introduce phrases, concepts, and vocabulary that wouldn't otherwise exist in the classroom/home learning setting. Don't underestimate the power of books for language learning, even if they are not in your target language!
However, not all books are created equal when it comes to using them for second-language learning.
We received this encouraging story of the beginnings of loving language learning from a mom a few months ago and want to share it with you. Language learning while living in a foreign culture is so crucial to a child's bonding with that culture. Their attitude toward it is everything!
"Thank you SO much for the work you do. We have been living in [African Arabic-speaking country] for four years and we have a 3, 4 and 6 year old. The older two were in Arabic preschool last year but we made the decision to do home schooling for them in the summer and simultaneously picked up a copy of Language Mama. We have been doing Language Mama weekly with a neighbor's teenage daughter since last September, and to say that it has been a game changer for us would be an understatement.
Our children have learned SO much language and culture, but the biggest gain has been their attitude to it, and the joy they have being around their language 'mama' and her family. They are so much more confident at speaking arabic, they are proud of their achievements, they are interested in learning more (they don't even realize they are learning!) and their engagement with the local culture has been so positive.
"As a mama I am so thankful that I am part of the process (last year when they were in preschool, their Arabic preschool world was a life of theirs I wasn't involved in and they didn't even know how to talk about it with me). It has been one of the best things we have ever undertaken as a family and we recommend it to everyone we know! Thank you so much for your hard work in devising and promoting the curriculum. "
SUNDAY - Prep Day.
I gathered my Go Dog Go book, some assorted toys, and my fully charged iPad mini. I asked Christine to help me film some videos for the week. She obliged. It took 20 minutes to film myself doing the Family script, Curtesy Script, and reading the book aloud in Hindi. The videos as you will see are unedited and were made in a single take. I'm doing it this way so you can make your own new mistakes and not the same ones I made! I used iMovie on my iPad to add titles to the movies for your reference. But the videos were so simple they definitely don't need any fancy titles.
I also had images to go with Go Dog Go and quickly made those into a coloring sheet on my laptop, then printed off a few copies.
Now I'm finally in a place where I feel doing it poorly/sub-par is better than not doing it at all for several reasons...
At times while answering the questions of "how will we distribute our book? How will we promote this stuff?" Christine and I have gone back and forth over selling our content at a profit, or at-cost, or making it free, or making it free to friends and associates who can test it for us. We've been all over the place.
Christine (and my own husband) has persuaded me to go completely free: "We want people all over the world to give it a try no matter what language-learning situation they're in. Why not make it free to them and see what happens?" I was convinced especially since I've benefited greatly from free resources online and realized THAT is the open-handed, open-source virtual community that we want our curriculum to join.
I am so happy to announce the opening of our new PDF Store, where you can easily download every program and book Christine and I have created!
For those who want to officially join what we are trying to do in the world of early language learning, please join our Patreon family. We are looking for others who want to be part of this team!