Benefits of dual language books
Whether you are teaching or learning a language: It is important to read, listen and speak in your chosen foreign language as much as possible.
Dual language books are a great way to support children on their bilingual journey. But be aware: Some of the dual language books on the market have hardly any text! Do your research!
From my own experience in the classroom, reading a dual language book as a foreign language learner is a great confidence booster.
But why are dual language books confidence boosters?
Children can compare between both, the native and the foreign language. This process exposes their own language knowledge. The children can learn from their translation mistakes and learn new words! Plus, they realize how much they already know!
In my opinion dual language books for children should be short and contain precise, straight-forward sentences rather than long and complex ones. Gradually, book by book, the complexity of sentences should increase.
Reading and imitation
In class I give my students the opportunity to decide for themselves if they would like to read a dual language book or an only-German book. Often they find it easier to remember new German words if the English translation is below or beside the sentences. The reading process also allows them to create a connection between the sounds and the writing.
Thereby the language learner imitates the native speaker and practices a ‘perfect’ version of the foreign language.
Sometimes learners think that speaking the new language as much as possible will guide them to complete fluency. However, in order to reach complete fluency, one has to read as much as possible in the chosen foreign language as the brain captures more words by listening, seeing and imitating them.
Learning how a native speaker speaks is definitely important but it is also crucial to enrich the child’s vocabulary. Words used in books are often more complex and creative. In our day to day life we speak without structuring our sentences carefully. Therefore, dual language books invite us to experience a new language in a more diverse and rich way.
Dual language books help to create interesting language lessons in which children can learn not only by hearing and imitating but also by reading and imitating.
Short but challenging picture books for children between 5-10 years are a great introduction into the literary foreign-language world!