In a bilingual home Ask the expert

August 16, 1998

The Sun has assembled a panel of professionals to address your concerns about reading to your child. If you have a question, or a suggestion, please write to: Ask the Experts, Reading by 9, Features Dept., The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore Md. 21278.

Susan Rapp, director of the Village Reading Center in Columbia, answers a question about how bilingual parents can help their child learn to read.

Question: In my son's second-grade class last year, the teacher taught phonics and whole language. When my son came home, I noticed that he had difficulty sounding out words and reading fluently. I speak and read English, but we speak Spanish at home. Is that confusing him too much? How can I help him learn to read?

Answer: There are many ways parents can help when their child is learning to read, even when English is not the primary language spoken at home. If you are able to converse and can read English, read aloud to him often. Older children also enjoy having books read aloud to them. Read books that are even beyond your child's reading ability. Discuss the meaning of any unfamiliar or interesting words. Keep a vocabulary notebook or word card box nearby when reading stories with your child to record any new words, which can be defined and written in his own sentences.

Help him write and name the letters of the alphabet. Then help him write his name, and words that are special to him. Try to obtain a sight word list from your child's teacher and practice with flash cards, using games. Read poems and play games with rhymes to help him with phoneme awareness. Use the print around you by identifying signs, instructions, labels, etc.

Above all, be sure to do these activities in an enjoyable, friendly and loving way, not as teaching lessons or tests of your child's abilities and skills.

Pub Date: 8/16/98

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