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Learn Punjabi Bilingual conversation circle makes reading fun for kids

Discussion in 'Language, Arts & Culture' started by spnadmin, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Bilingual conversation circle makes reading fun for kids

    Taryn Toor is just four years old, but already the Surrey tyke is an avid library user.

    Toor has been going to Storytimes to Help Learn English, partly funded by The Sun’s Raise-a-Reader program, for most of her life.

    “She loves it,” says her mother, Harmeet, adding that her other two children, three-year-old Piya and one-month-old Aluxon, also enjoy the dynamic story/language lesson.

    “If they can’t understand something, [the facilitator] can explain it in Punjabi.”

    This means nursery rhymes like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or singalong favourites like Old McDonald, make a whole lot more sense to her children.

    Since being launched in 2007, the Surrey Public Library’s program has impacted more than 4,000 children and caregivers, says Sara Grant, manager of youth services for the library.

    It’s offered in both Punjabi and Cantonese/Mandarin versions, free of charge.

    Grant says the colourful format — it includes stories, nursery rhymes, puppets and plenty of opportunity to chat — is like a “conversation circle” since it invites participation.

    It’s an important service for children and families in Surrey, Grant says, adding that about a third of Surrey’s population speak languages other than English as a first language.

    The roughly $8,000 donated to the program by Raise-a-Reader this year — part of $13 million raised since the literacy-focused program began in 1997 — went towards staffing Storytimes as well as supplies such as bilingual and felt storybooks and puppets.

    Victor Or, who runs the Cantonese/Mandarin Storytime, says in addition to interesting children in reading, the bilingual aspect sparks “curiosity with the language.”

    “It’s very helpful,” adds Surrinder Randhawa, who leads the Punjabi Storytime.

    “We get a lot of grandparents coming in who don’t speak any English at all. A lot of the grandparents are the primary caregivers.”
    They learn from the stories too, she says, adding, “It’s not just for the children.”

    Randhawa has seen the impact of reading on participants, recalling how one young boy transformed from being very shy and silent to becoming talkative and friendly with the other children.

    Taking part in Storytime helped him come out of his shell, she says.
    “They feel comfortable,” Randhawa says of the key to the program’s success. “Because I can talk to them in both languages, they feel more comfortable.”

    And that means a story about a rained-out spider climbing up a water spout becomes a lot clearer. More fun to sing about, too.

    “It’s helped out a lot,” says Harmeet Toor, of the impact on her children.
    “Every time they [tell] me, let’s go to the library, listen to the Storytime,” Toor says. “They like it, too. And they learn faster, I think.”

    ceustace@{censored word, do not repeat.}

    Forwarded by forum member Tejwant Singh ji Malik
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