The 4 pillars of story-telling to learn a second language

Reading and telling stories is the common element to parents who raise their children with a second language. Not only is it the common element, it is the #1 on the priority list.

Parents that raise their kids with a second language are “story addicts”. They find every possible opportunity to tell or listen to stories with their children. Here are the 4 pillars of how parents expose their children to stories:

1. Creating a story routine
2. Making children actors in the story
3. "Everywhere story-telling"
4. Using technology as a story-telling complement

Creating a story routine

Stories are an excellent way to get the attention of children, especially when the story is a familiar one. Children love their routines. Creating a story-telling routine in a second language makes kids look forward to a story on a regular basis.

-       “Reading the same story, night after night. My son does not want to listen to another story. He knows the story in Russian by heart. I think I read it over 50 times.”
-       “Coming home after work, I read a 5-minute story on the couch”
-       “During breakfast on week-ends I read 2 or 3 stories, usually a fairy tale or hero story, Not sure if it gives them the best manners at the table, but it helps them listen to French”

Making children actors in the story

Creating stories where children are the heroes makes them engaged and helps them practice the second language.

-       “At bedtime, making up a story where our children are the heroes. It gets them very engaged, as they want to hear what will happen”
-       “I like playing with puppets: creating a 1 minute story that I tell, then having my daughter act out also a 1 minute story”

“Everywhere story-telling”

Talking, having frequent conversations, finding opportunities everywhere to tell stories or listen to them is used by parents to expose the children as much as possible to the second language.

-       “Going to the park, and telling a story about what we see there, in Hindi”
-       “When driving, I put on children stories on CDs in Spanish”

Using technology as a story telling complement

Technology will never replace what parents or teachers do directly with the children to learn a second language. However, it can greatly help in reinforcing what parents or educators do.

-       “Having grandma reading a story via skype, showing the pictures of the book to the camera”
-       “Listening to podcasts on the internet (ex: Cody’s Cuentos). Every week is another story in Spanish, we listen to it together”
-       “Screen time on week-ends: we listen to French stories on the iPad for 15 min”

 What is your own habit of telling or listening to stories with your child, in a second language?