A place to share books, music, techniques, and all things related to bilingual storytime!

Friday, March 14, 2008

What is bilingual programming?

There are many ways to offer bilingual programs to children. Some libraries, such as the Kenton County library in Kentucky, offer bilingual storytimes using a tandem format. In this method, a programmer partners with a Spanish speaking customer or educator to provide stories in English and Spanish. They may alternate in various ways, such as reading each page first in one language and then the other. This is a great option for non-Spanish speaking programmers who serve Spanish speaking children and families. If a dedicated partner is available, such a program can be offered on a regular basis. This is also an option for large programs around holidays (such as El día de los niños). Inviting a parent to participate in such a program is a way to really involve your Spanish speaking customers in the library.

Because I speak
English and Spanish, I am able to provide bilingual family storytimes solo. I use a variety of storytelling techniques in order to reinforce vocabulary in both languages. For example, I may share a draw-n-tell story mostly in English, interjecting key Spanish words which are reinforced by the drawing, repeated throughout the story, etc. Flannels also work well for reinforcing vocabulary, and are an option for stories you want to share but do not have available in a Spanish or bilingual book. I will vary the dominant language of the storytime based on the language ability of the group in attendance. However, the books and songs we use each week are always either bilingual or in Spanish.

Though speaking Spanish clearly makes it easier to offer bilingual programs, I really encourage non-Spanish speaking programmers who work with Spanish speaking families, or have large numbers of Spanish speaking residents in their service areas, to give Spanish a try in storytime. Books by Susan Middleton Elya and Ginger Foglesong Guy make it really easy; just check the pronunciation of the Spanish words ahead of time!

Do you work in a library that offers bilingual programs? How do you do it?

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