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How to Teach Bilingual Children How to Read and Write

How to Teach Bilingual Children How to Read and Write

Tips on How to Teach

When teaching children how to read and write in both languages. It can be similar on teaching them both languages. You will want to go parallel when teaching both alphabets. However, teaching the alphabets at separate times avoids any confusion your child might be having. There has not yet been a proven definite answer on how to learn the correct way to read and write. Although, I do have some suggestions on how to teach.

The Alphabets

When teaching two different alphabets, it is easy to start with common characters found in both alphabets. Along with the common characters, see if any have similar corresponding sounds when working on pronunciation. Once the common characters are recognized, this is when parents should move into the special characters for only one language. The last step is to offer acquaintance with the letters that are written in the alphabet the same, but are pronounced differently. Breaking down the alphabet by characters and pronunciation in different levels will help your child distinguish the letters a bit better. Keep in mind it is important to stay patient, learning two alphabets can be frustrating for the child at times.

Home Classes

Conducting regular classes at home are aimed at developing speech. With classes at home, you don’t have to be sitting at a table the whole time teaching, but rather turn it into a game. Your child may have had a long day at preschool and you do not want to overwhelm them with more focused learning. For children 1 to 3 years old, roleplaying between a stuffed bear and doll, for example, will help the child understand the language a bit more. For children 4 to 5 years old, it is better to do roleplaying in mother-daughter or profession scenarios. These role playing exercises will show how the words are expressed. It will be able to introduce new words through expression of the bear and doll, for example, rather than showing the word on a piece of paper. Overall, it is good to show pronunciation and intonation at home.

The Russian Language

Each language is going to be a bit different when teaching words and the alphabet. I chose an example of unwrapping this topic on Russian and English. It is suggested that children divide words by syllables when learning to read Russian. Most adults believe that the mark separating words in primer on syllables. For example, the word “Readers-samoučkami” contains this mark. The Russian language is taught a bit differently than the English language. As we just went over, syllable break ups are important to note in the Russian language. Some children learn the syllables first, while others jump into reading the words right away.

The Sound “O”

The letter “O” is a great example of a letter that has three sounds in the Russian language. The sound of “O” is similar to the word “table.” This is the main sound value of the letter “O,” it acts in the main meaning when it is in a strong position. The sound “a” is alike to the word “glasses”. In this word, the letter “O” is in its secondary sound meaning, it transmits the letter in a weaker position. The sound similar to the sound of “s” has specialists in Russian phonetics and graphics special name as “EP” and special designation here is such a special sign to “l”. The sound we hear in the word “cold” or hólʺdnʺ also has the letter of the second and third syllables in the secondary sound meaning. As the sound transmits on the letter in a weak position. Looking at just the letter “O”, we can see that the Russian language can be a bit complex with sounds compared to the English language.

Connection between English and Russian

As mentioned, in English, children learn to read whole words immediately because they do not read syllables in the initial level like Russian children do. Some of the basic words English children will learn are “dog” or “log.” These are one syllable words that start them from the basics. There is a connection between English and Russian. Bilingual children carry out reading techniques in English to read in Russian. Since the Russian language is a bit more complex, it is important to keep those home lessons going with your child at home so they do not resist.

A great way to teach the Russian language is to record sounds of the letter and teach the children to read these recorded sounds. This will break down syllables in the teaching text. Stay consistent when recording and practicing pronunciation and sounds of the letters. Your child should be working on this by the age of 4 to 5 years old, which is why consistency is key to keep it as a top priority in their brain.


Overall, there are several techniques to teach your child how to read and write. In addition, there are usually connections in teaching your child two different alphabets as they will find similar characters in each alphabet. Practice pronunciation and stay consistent. It is not always going to be easy when teaching your child two different languages, but they will understand with practice over time.  

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4A Gill St Woburn, MA 01801

Global Children School

A Multilingual Early Education Center
4A Gill St Woburn, MA 01801