Dual Language - Introduction to Letters (Cyrillic) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 01-25-2010, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm from the FSU and dh is from the US. I try to speak to ds in Russian, and I'm wondering how to best introduce the written language. Would it be confusing for him to see letters in both languages? For example, if I get him an azbuka (alphabet book) in Russian or blocks in Russian, and he has magnetic letters in English, would that be tremendously confusing? Or should I just bring them out separately? Some of the letters are the same, but may have different sounds. Ds is 27months. My mom also speaks to ds entirely in Russian, and I'd like for her to read Russian books and do the Russian alphabet with him, rather than trying to teach him how to say letters in English (which she doesn't always pronounce correctly)

Anyone been there, got through it using a successful approach?
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#2 of 13 Old 01-25-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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Not as an adult (my dd is only 7 mo), but I did as a child - I speak fluent Modern Greek despite having spent most of my life in the US. My dad taught me to read and write Greek and I can do both on a reasonable adult level (though my writing is more like that of a high-school student than an educated adult).

I think the key elements are consistency (do NOT speak the majority language to your kid) and, as much as possible, exposure to the home country (we went every summer and I lived in Greece for a couple of years as well - I always had huge leaps forward in my Greek after spending time there). Structure is good too - we had a designated hour on Sunday afternoons for 'Greek lessons.' I hated it at the time but it really worked.

I think young children can (with time) sort out pretty much whatever you throw at them in terms of languages.

I wouldn't worry about the fact that your DS has toys and books in both languages. I would just concentrate as much as possible on Russian since that is your minority language. I do remember mixing up certain letters from the Greek and Latin alphabets when I was very small, but it was a transient problem.

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#3 of 13 Old 01-25-2010, 08:27 PM
 
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I started teaching my son to read Hebrew at about the same time he was learning to read English - age 6. He hasn't had a problem with it at all and it's been very easy - easier, in fact than English because Hebrew is more straightforward (none of the ough or igh sounds to learn. I didn't think to do it earlier, but I don't see any reason not to familiarize him with both sets of letters if you're going to be doing alphabet books anyway.
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#4 of 13 Old 01-26-2010, 05:42 AM
 
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I decided to wait and have my children learn to read and write the community language first in school before teaching them English. My concerns were more learning-based, than practical. I'll explain; the French aren't into positive reinforcement, are much harsher graders and critisize with abandon. I had visions of my commending my children every two seconds and having them basically go through cultural shock when faced with the more grim reality of a French school.

They learned to read and write the two school languages quickly once in the equivalent of 1st grade (French kids are given a lot of pre-reading skills). They're in a bilingual program learning French and German. I was all ready to teach them English... then didn't have to. Yes, they were able to "get it" just by applying what they learned in school, to their spoken English.

Is their English at age level? No but we have no plans to move out of France. I did have to explain some things, i.e. "oo" in pool and cool, the two vowels together, saying the second sound, etc.

I did have English language alphabet books and learning to read toys. This was not confusing to them.

At such a young age, I would urge you to speak Russian, and only Russian to him. Please don't be tempted to slip into English. This will actually help both languages, to keep them separate. I would only approach Russian reading when he shows an interest... and I predict that he will. My kids were naturally curious about how English was written, once they mastered French. You can do subtle things like run your fingers on the letters when you read to him in Russian.

By the way, I don't recommend translating books. My youngest especially was able to identify the French from the English books. These are the ones I read to you but ask Papa to read that. If she really insisted, we could talk about the pictures but not read the text.

My two older ones also take Hebrew. They don't find it confusing and don't mix any of their other three languages lol! We have Hebrew fridge magnets. They play with them and put together words. Try to get a hold of a Russian set!

So don't feel rushed into this project or be afraid of any confusion. Speaking is a skill they have to learn by a certain age but reading and writing have a wider "window". Also, a child's languages, both written and spoken, don't have to both/all be at age level, only the school language, when they are school aged, do.
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#5 of 13 Old 01-27-2010, 05:22 PM
 
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DS1 had occasional, but not formal, exposure to the Arabic alphabet--but we didn't really switch to actively teaching it (as well as reading) until he was reading well in English (about 6). I don't know if it was the best approach, but it seems to have worked fine.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#6 of 13 Old 01-28-2010, 02:07 PM
 
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DS is 29 months. DH and I studied Spanish through college and are trying to encourage that. I also studied Russian, and would like to get the Cyrrillic alphabet blocks for DS as soon as I can budget for it.

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#7 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 12:11 AM
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We did Cyrillic alphabet blocks from pretty early on, but have since abandoned it. Once she started learning the Latin alphabet at pre-school, it all became a mess for her (for example, what is P or C? The ones that are totally different were a bit easier, but it still seemed to be very confusing to her).

Anyway, I've decided just to wait. She's four and knows the Latin alphabet very well (names and sounds) and can read some words. But she's not really secure in reading yet, and really can't write at all, except her name (in Latin letters). She has developed awareness of which language is which, and I think she did need to develop that concept and awareness before throwing different alphabets at her. After all, it requires the ability to differentiate between two systems.

I think all of this rambling is to say that I'm going to wait a bit. We're trying to improve her spoken Russian right now (which is far behind her spoken English, unfortunately). Reading and writing will come later. Maybe 1st or 2nd grade when she feels more confident in reading and writing in general.


Udachi Vam. K sozhaleniu, sama ne znayu chto delat v etoi neprostoi situatsii. Vremya pokazhet, kak govoritsya.

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#8 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by EVC View Post
We did Cyrillic alphabet blocks from pretty early on, but have since abandoned it. Once she started learning the Latin alphabet at pre-school, it all became a mess for her (for example, what is P or C? The ones that are totally different were a bit easier, but it still seemed to be very confusing to her).

Anyway, I've decided just to wait. She's four and knows the Latin alphabet very well (names and sounds) and can read some words. But she's not really secure in reading yet, and really can't write at all, except her name (in Latin letters). She has developed awareness of which language is which, and I think she did need to develop that concept and awareness before throwing different alphabets at her. After all, it requires the ability to differentiate between two systems.

I think all of this rambling is to say that I'm going to wait a bit. We're trying to improve her spoken Russian right now (which is far behind her spoken English, unfortunately). Reading and writing will come later. Maybe 1st or 2nd grade when she feels more confident in reading and writing in general.


Udachi Vam. K sozhaleniu, sama ne znayu chto delat v etoi neprostoi situatsii. Vremya pokazhet, kak govoritsya.
That was exactly my concern, that some of the letters look the same but have very different sounds. FWIW, all 3 of my nephews/niece who live in NJ, had Russian nannies, went to Russian daycare, didn't speak a word of English until maybe 4...as soon as they went to school, it was a complete switch...they have no desire to speak Russian now. It's too hard. I'm actually wondering if it's better to speak both languages all the time, that way, there's not a switch...or if like a PP noted, traveling to the "mother country" is really the key. Unfortunately, I have very little desire to travel to Russia or Ukraine. I'd much rather go to Greece
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#9 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 05:23 PM
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if like a PP noted, traveling to the "mother country" is really the key.
I think it is. It has been true for some of dd's friends who speak a second language. After even a short trip, they come back with MUCH stronger language skills.

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Unfortunately, I have very little desire to travel to Russia or Ukraine
LOL, we have all desire, but too little time, money, and energy

Although I have set the goal of renewing dd's passport this spring so that maybe we can go this summer before she starts kindergarten. For her part, dd is VERY excited about the (possible) trip to visit babushka and dedushka. She talks to them every week on the telephone and very much wants to FINALLY see them I really hope we can get organized and go.

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#10 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Although I have set the goal of renewing dd's passport this spring so that maybe we can go this summer before she starts kindergarten. For her part, dd is VERY excited about the (possible) trip to visit babushka and dedushka. She talks to them every week on the telephone and very much wants to FINALLY see them I really hope we can get organized and go.
Ah, yes, having babushka and dedushka there makes a difference. My ds's baba is a short drive from us, so he gets to see her very often. Every time there's a knock on the door (or even if it sounds like it, when it's just the wind), he gets very excited "BABA BABA BABA". He cries when we leave her house. We don't have anyone to visit in Ukraine, so we'd be just tourists. Plus, everything's moving towards Ukrainian: the street signs, the maps, official notices in train stations, and I don't speak Ukrainian, only Russian...so it's a bit more complicated!
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#11 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 05:54 PM
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I speak Ukrainian fairly well, so I do not worry about myself, but it is a concern because I wonder if it will do more to confuse dd than to help her.

Although we speak Russian at home, every now and then dh and I will say something to each other in Ukrainian. When dd asks what we said and I explain to her that we were speaking Ukrainian she looks very skeptical and then says something like, "So Ukrainian means Russian?"

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#12 of 13 Old 01-30-2010, 09:13 PM
 
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That was exactly my concern, that some of the letters look the same but have very different sounds.
FWIW the Greek alphabet is about from different from the Latin as Cyrillic is
(actually it's got a lot of similarities to Cyrillic, I can actually read Russian phonetically even though I don't understand a word of what I'm reading).

E.g. P='R', H='EE'(=backwards N in Cyrillic I think), etc.

Like I said I had a period of confusion as a small child but ironed everything out eventually. (My dad taught me to read Greek formally but I figured out English on my own from being read to a lot.)

Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
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#13 of 13 Old 02-08-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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My brother and I grew up with English, Russian and Latvian - spoken and written. We had blocks in Cyrillic and Latin. My Dad and his mother spoke/read with us in Latvian, my Mom and her mother in Russian. Friends and others in English. There really wasn't any confusion, whether written or spoken - we knew which adult used which language and we were pretty flexible in switching.

I've kept up my Russian more than my brother has, and even though I don't use it a lot now, I can slip right back in pretty easily when necessary. There are a lot of opportunities when your kids are a little bit older - camps, Russian school, social groups in and out of Church.
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