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Two alphabets - WWYD

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
So, DS is only 10 months, but I already read to him in English (my mother tongue), so he is getting the idea that you read left to right and thumb a book from left to right.

DH is Israeli and I am presently living in Israel. DH's family speak Hebrew and when/if DS goes to school in Israel, he will learn in Hebrew. Hebrew is a completely different alphabet and is read right to left.

I am wondering if there are any other Hebrew/English Arabic/English (I profess to be very ignorant and not know if there are any other languages that write from right to left) mamas out there who are exposing their children to both alphabets. Does it confuse the children as they start to learn their letters?

post #2 of 16
I live in Hong Kong and when the kids were young we read to them in English and Chinese. Sometimes Chinese is read from left-to-right, like English. Other times it's read from right to left in columns. The kids didn't seem to have any problem adjusting to this and recognize that when the script is different, you might need to read from a different direction.
post #3 of 16
We are English/Amharic (which is related to Hebrew and Arabic). We are exposing our kids to Amharic but teaching English first. I think Amharic is beautiful, but between the two, English is going to be more long-term useful for our kids. At some point we are going to teach is as a second language as part of our homeschool curriculum, but with the huge advantage of having a native-speaker in the home.
post #4 of 16
My daughter is learning Arabic and English simultaneously and hasn't been too confused as far as I can tell. When she reads Arabic, she tracks from right to left and when she reads an English book, tracks from left to right. She is only 3 and doesn't really read more than a few words but she got the concept of direction very handily. Nothing to worry about IMO.

She is also learning Bengali (which reads left to right) but we haven't introduced the characters very much yet.
post #5 of 16
The girls know which books we read "B'Ivrit" and which ones they read "B'Anglint" (in English). They aren't reading yet but the do flip through Hebrew books and English books the correct way. The only confusion I noticed was Rena had a playdate and the mom did an English letter paper with her. Rena wrote רינה on the paper (in Hebrew) except she wrote it on the left hand side of the paper, exactly backwards (ie: she wrote English orientation because she saw the Name_______________ and figured out which way to write, but she wrote the charactors in Hebrew, so her name read הניר instead of רינה.
post #6 of 16
We're not a bilingual family (not even close!) but we do try to read and learn Hebrew as well.

DS learned both his aleph-bet (Hebrew alphabet) and the Engilsh alphabet around the same time- we've always had Hebrew letter toys and things in our house (at the very least we've had dreidles and prayerbooks)

He went to Jewish preschool where he was formally taught both alphabets, as well as getting more exposure to Hebrew being read from right to left. He was taught to read both languages in Kindergarten (when, IMO, he wasn't ready to read even one language and it's STILL messing up his desire to read!)

Now, in 2nd grade, he can read both languages quite fluently and doesn't get mixed up with the directions of the sentence structure. His handwriting is equally bad in both languages. He's got a host of issues with Hebrew vocabulary and comprehension (and is so far behind the rest of his class that he's learning nothing) but reading and writing aren't problems for him.

I would simply read to your DS in English and have other family members read to him in Hebrew- just let him get exposed to both languages. At 10mo, he's NOT set in "one direction to flip through books"- many kids who are only learning one language don't have that concept mastered until age 5 or 6.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for replying. It's reassuing to know that other families are doing this. I tend to worry forward - into the future... and I know that this will only really be an issue when he goes to school.... right now he is happy flipping pages both ways. I'll stop worrying and read to him in English and let him grandparents read to him in Hebrew. I'm altogether confused about having a bilingual home. I speak pretty much equally in Hebrew and in English to DS, as does DH. I have heard that each parent should speak their mother tongue to the children, but it just doesn't work like that for us. I really hope DS does not get too confused with both languages. And yeah, I agree that 10 months is a bit too soon to be worrying about letters - I would love for DS to get to school without being pressurised to read (although grandparents here can't wait to teach him). We'll see.
post #8 of 16
yea, I did the speaking in Hebrew/English thing too, but then I really realized that my kids were getting SO MUCH MORE when I just stuck to one language and dh (also Israeli) stuck to his.

They both speak a little, whatever comes in their heads first. One of my kids was more English oriented. The other more Hebrew oriented. I would just remark when they brought me a hebrew book that this was Hebrew and for Daddy to read. To please bring me an English one.

They both know which way to read each book. They have the orientation down. Even my 2 year old can find a hebrew or english book if I ask for it. They realise the difference in alphabets.

I wouldn't sweat it. Try to use more English. The more they hear you use English words in different contexts the better their vocabularies and accents will be.

ANd don't think that what is happening now (or next month or even year) is any long term indication about where they will be language-wise 15 years down the line. Deal with the cards you are dealt and play each hand as it comes up.
post #9 of 16
We also do Hebrew and English and are just learning letters. We are currently in Canada, but spend a fair amount of time in Israel too...our approach has been fairly casual- we have a lot of books in both languages and both myself and DH (israeli) will read in either language to her. She also differentiates between the written language, and can easily identify her "hebrew" books from her "english" books. We also make sure to have lots of text in both languages available, and ourselves will write notes, words etc in both languages. All her preschool stuff is labeled in both languages, etc, so she will be exposed to them both as much as possible.
Another thing we have that I love is cookie cutters in the hebrew aleph-bet. One for each letter. This has been great fun- she plays with them with play dough and we make cookies. With the cookies, often I will tell her "Okay, this time you can have "dalet" and she'll need to find the right one to eat! She loves it of course and is highly motivated! I bought the cookie cutters in Israel, at a Stemansky book store for maybe 30 shekels. Well worth it!!!

We've found that fostering an interest in language and reading/writing comes mostly from our own example of enjoying it- we read constantly ourselves, and will happily read to DD who is 3 any time she wants to...have fun, have the languages around, and your DC will learn!
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you mamas.

Great advice and I am glad to hear that there are little ones who are managing just fine with two alphabets and right/left left/right.
post #11 of 16
Mine is actually more confused between the two more similar alphabets (Cyrillic and English) than between Persian and English. S looks like C, etc. I think the distinctness actually really helps.
post #12 of 16
IME the letters are so different between English and Hebrew ( and also English and Arabaic) that the whole left to right and right to left thing isn't a big deal. Even the books open the opposite direction which also reinforces the difference.
post #13 of 16
We are living in Jordan so our 4 yo DD is learning Arabic (and English) at school. DH and I only speak English (though we are learning some Arabic from DD!) She does sometimes make mistakes in direction, both when she is writing and when she is reading letters/words, so I just remind her..."this is in English, so we start over here on the left"...I am not particularly worried, as I am sure that she will get the hang of it after a while. IMHO, the benefits of the two languages/alphabets at this age outweigh any short term delays as she sorts through it all.
post #14 of 16

For us (Arabic and English) it hasn't been a problem. The kids (DS1, 5, and DS2, 3) just somehow get it. They know to open the Arabic books the other way.... know when they're writing (or pretend writing) that Arabic goes Right to Left.

I mainly read to them in English... and DH read to them in Arabic like one book per year. Still, they somehow figured it out. English is by far the dominant language... so right now, we're trying to expose them more to Arabic-language stuff.
post #15 of 16
IMHE, all kids, even those who are mono-lingual, will take time to learn to read and write in the correct orientation. So, when my kid writes their name in mirror-image for a few months, it is just part of the learning process, and they figure it out.
Also, when they are very little, when they read books it's more for the aural language experience, and looking at the pictures. I think, if they grow up seeing both languages then it won't be confusing. Although, if they are suddenly trying to learn both at the same time (eg in preschool, where they might learn both the English and Hebrew alphabets one letter per week, so are learning the same or similar sounds in two languages simultaneously) then it can get confusing for some kids. Personally, my kids all were able to recognize all of the English alphabet by the time they started school, and were familiar enough with Ivrit that it wasn't a problem for them.
post #16 of 16
We're doing English/Arabic/Spanish and so far no complaints.

My DD's much younger though so I doubt this helps you.
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