Finding educational materials in Ukrainian is not easy. If you ever searched for Ukrainian Abetka books on Amazon or other Internet marketplaces, you have no doubt discovered that the selection is abysmal. But, many online sites now offer content for direct download such as childdevelop.com.ua. This site offers many worksheets in Ukrainian (also in English and Russian) free of charge. If you end up liking it, for a small fee, you can gain access to the entire catalogue with unlimited downloads. Take a look at the below example, which teaches Ukrainian and logic:
The above exercise helps your child to apply logic, develop creative thinking, and learn new words. In the first part, the child has to determine which goods belong in which store. In the second part, the child comes up with names for stores that sell listed goods, such as toys, sweets, etc.
Kudos to the Yanko Gortalo team for producing a Ukrainian version of the Baby Shark song (Малюк-сом). Check out their YouTube channel. To learn more about this creative project and to support them, visit their official website here.
We are happy to announce the publication of Ukrainian Alphabet coloring book for kids (Українська Абетка – розмальовка для дітей).
All 33 letters of the Ukrainian alphabet are paired with cute animals to provide visual learning (Aa – Akula/Aкула, Бб – Bilochka/Білочка, Вв – Vovk/ Вовк…).
This is a great way to introduce fundamental learning concepts like letter recognition and specific animals while improving your child’s fine motor skills. A perfect giftfor young scholars who may be learning or even already know Ukrainian.
So there I was…casually browsing scholarly literature on raising bi/multilingual children, when University of Ottawa’s Dr. Nikolay Slavkov‘s research caught my attention. In a peer-reviewed article published by International Journal of Multilingualism (Routledge), Slavkov concludes regarding three factors related to a child’s development as an active or passive bi/multilingual.
Slavkov finds three factors to have a positive association on whether a child develops as an active or passive bi/multilingual:
heritage-language school enrollment
use of minority language with a sibling
the development of literacy skills in a minority language
Slavkov writes “what these variables seem to have in common is a strong level of active commitment on the parents’ part. That is, one could argue that a higher degree of effort and time investment from the parents is necessary to help a child acquire minority language literacy, to commit to heritage-language classes on weekends, and to institute a family policy that encourages or possibly requires siblings to speak in a minority language with one another.”
Now, what about reading books and watching TV, doesn’t that teach the kids?
Slavkov finds that reading books to the child in a minority language or letting the child watch TV or engage with multimedia resources in a minority language seem to have a somewhat lower effort and time commitment value.
Yet, every little bit counts and adds up in the end.
Are you #stuckathome with school-age children? Scholastic is offering free online courses for children as part of its Scholastic Learn at Home program. Cost? Your email address. Otherwise, it’s free to use.
According to The Hill, it offers “three hours of learning per day with up to four weeks of instruction. Users are asked to choose a grade level, separated into pre-K and kindergarten, first and second grade, third through fifth grade, and sixth grade and above. The courses span the subjects of English language arts; STEM; science; social studies; and social-emotional learning.”
What online educational resources for children, especially with a focus on teaching languages, do you use?
Can you really learn another language by watching cartoons? Yes, there is some pedagogical value (with the right cartoons) when raising children bilingual, but the short answer is no — cartoons alone won’t cut it.
Here’s the argument. In our experience, we found cartoons as positive teaching aids when used as:
Creative breaks for parents and kids (need to punctuate grammar and math sessions somehow)
Introduction of new vocabulary and exposure to different voices of the target language (for example the Nick Jr. show Bubble Guppies structures each episode on a specific subject, and luckily it has been translated into multiple languages such as German, Polish, Spanish, & Ukrainian)
Reinforcement of previously learned material (read a book about a Unicorn in the morning, and later watched Twilight Sparkle*)
*attention grandparents: this is a main character of the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic cartoon
Simply putting the kids in front of a TV to have them watch [insert your language] cartoons will not give them mastery without additional stimuli. Watching is passive so at most you are looking at raising a child that is fluent in English and perhaps understands some Spanish for example. Absent active teaching or interaction in the target language, the child will probably not be able to speak Spanish and certainly not be able to write Spanish. This is especially so if the environment is English-speaking and the only source of Spanish is occasionally on TV.
So, to review, use cartoons as a tool in your bilingual education approach, but do not place all your eggs in that basket. Recognize this tool’s limits and strengths.
We’d love to hear your experience with cartoons. Comment below or contact us. Thanks for reading and subscribe to our mailing list.
Next post: what does scholarly literature say on impact of cartoons?
Book description: Мама маленького Зайчика застудилася, і він вирішив піти купити для неї меду, адже чай з медом — найкращі ліки на горло. Але місто велике, а Зайчик — дуже маленький, і він заблукав… Зворушлива історія зі зворушливими ілюстраціями і щасливим закінченням…
Publishing House Ranok (Видавництво «Ранок») is offering a free Ukrainian virtual school (Віртуальна школа «Ранок») k-11 during COVID-19 restrictions. Here is a class schedule. Also, past classes are available on Ranok’s YouTube channel. At first glance, it looks promising. What online resources do you use to help raise your kids bilingual?
If you decided to raise your children bilingual or multilingual then the next decision for you is what system should you choose. Olena Centeno of BilingualKidsRock.com argues that to succeed you must have a system, a structure, in place that will guide you (parents, grandparents, extended family, etc.) and your children through the years. Having a system is an integral part of family language planning (FLP).
In her post, Centeno writes that a system has the following three elements:
Who speaks which languages
When specific languages are spoken, and
Which languages the child is expected to use
Centeno then elaborates on four system types: one parent one language (1P1L) – Mom speaks English & Dad speaks French; minority language at home (MLH) – Spanish at home and English at school; time and place systems – mornings in English, evenings in Ukrainian; and, mixed language policy – two languages are used equally and interchangeably in daily life.
It is of course possible to combine these systems, creating a framework that best suits you. In our family we use both one parent one language as well as a time and place system. Our daughters know that their father will speak to them in Ukrainian and their mother will use English. They also know that in the morning and at school they will hear and use English and read English books; in the afternoon and during Ukrainian lessons they will only use Ukrainian and read Ukrainian books; in the evening they will hear and use both languages and read books in both languages.
If you haven’t yet noticed a trend, it is that we use books extensively in our house to support raising our daughters bilingual. But there will be more on the power of books and language learning in a forthcoming post.
Regardless of which system you choose, having an established framework in place for how you approach raising your children bilingual will help keep you focused and guide you toward your goal.