I call it the Equalizer. I was trying to think of a way to prevent the stronger language steam-rollering the weaker. This is the result. It’s not much, I will grant you, but read on for the reasons behind it.
Last night as I was warming the soup for dinner, the inevitable happened. My daughter sat reading the magazines from her nursery school, all in Japanese, and read more and more and more. ‘Oh dear’, I thought. ‘It has begun’.
Without any formal instruction in reading Hiragana (click here for the long explanation) my daughter is able to read stories. In the face of this, is it any wonder if she chooses to read in Japanese or is reluctant to sit down and read a book in English by herself with its strange spelling rules and sight words? I wanted to provide her with some balance.
Using the equalizer, I hope to at least convey the idea of balance to my daughter. See the two kids climbing up the middle of the towers? They are using both towers to get to the top. For the kids climbing, if they get too high up on either of the towers, they will find it difficult to move forward at all. The climbers require balance.
Now let’s say the kids are bilingual readers (biliterates) and that one tower represents reading done in Japanese while the other represents reading in English. If either gets too much attention, the other is neglected and the climbers suffer imbalance.
I admit it’s a shaky metaphor, but I think it may work. We will try this for a while and see if we can define the notion of ‘balanced exposure’ together. Each time she reads something in English, she colours a square on the English tower, and vive-versa. I will not be screeching at her to read her books, but I do think that a visual representation of achievement and balance may help to form a clear picture of both languages being important.
Well, that’s the theory 😉