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Top tips for sharing languages during Bookbug Week

With Bookbug Week just around the corner, Yolanda Vico Tienda shares some tips and ideas from her experience of introducing other languages into Bookbug Sessions. Yolanda typically uses Spanish since this is her mother tongue but you can use any language you like!

Last updated: 03 May 2024

At the beginning of a Bookbug Session, ‘The Hello Song’ is the perfect opportunity to introduce a word in another language. After the line ‘I'm glad that you could come’, we can add a ‘hello’ to each child in the group using different languages. For example: ‘Hello Laura, Hello Jackson, Hello Ian, it’s good to see you here. Hola Fraser, Hola Lia, Hola Cris, it’s good to see you here.’

When it comes to counting, you can try counting up to three just before starting each song to ensure everybody is listening and ready. Or sing songs that already contain numbers but in a different language, like ‘one, two, three, four, five’ or the countdown at the end of ‘Zoom, Zoom, Zoom’. For instance: 'cinco, cuatro, tres, dos, uno, Blast off!'

Getting ready with expressions like ‘ready, steady, go!’ or ‘are you ready?’ can be introduced before each song, with a lot of repetition involved. For example: ‘preparados, listos, ya!’

When introducing a whole song in another language, it’s important for children to understand the meaning of the lyrics. If possible, the first time they listen to the new song, make sure it is in English. If that's not possible, you can explain what the song is about or its meaning.

During storytime with preschoolers, I always give them two options for the story we're going to read. Then, I find it very useful to let them vote. This involves lots of counting in English and Spanish. We read the book with the most votes. In this way, children get the chance to choose the book, and we all count together to see which one is the winner and which one will be read.

You can ask children for their opinion on the story, if they liked and enjoyed it. They can give you feedback using simple words along with body language. For example: 'Me ha gustado' with ne thumb up or 'Me ha gustado mucho' with two thumbs up.

For the last song, similar to what I suggested at the beginning with ‘The Hello Song,’ we can do the same with ‘The Goodbye Song’. For example: ‘Adiós Joan, Adiós Maria, Adiós Rebecca, I’m glad that you could come.’

Finally, if you have families in your sessions who are from overseas or can speak languages other than English, you can always ask them for words, expressions, or songs in their language to introduce them in your session. I’m sure they would be delighted to help, and they will feel that their language, along with their culture and history, is very valued.

Find out more about Bookbug Week 2024!