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  • Writer's pictureHLE Network

The Joy of Reading in the Heritage Language

June 15, 2022

We are proud to share with you our public outreach campaign page "The Joy of Reading in the Heritage Language." As a part of this campaign, we have run the "Thuistaal Toppers!" book recommendation contest for multilingual children, created the "Ik lees ook in mijn thuistaal" video, presented research on our website about what benefits can follow from reading in the home language (available in English and Dutch), and we put together a Toolbox (in English and Dutch) with tips for how to get children reading in the home language.

"Ik lees ook in mijn thuistaal"

Find out what a few children had to say when asked, "Why do you like to read in your heritage language?" View the video below!

Why read in the HL?

As part of our outreach campaign, "The Joy of Reading in the HL," we have created a page on our website devoted to the topic of reading. Multilingual families, teachers, and others interested can find out the answers to questions, such as:

  • What stages do children go through when learning how to read in general, and what concerns might there be when learning to read in multiple languages?

  • What is the difference between "reading for pleasure" and "forced reading"?

  • Which types of materials should a child be reading?

  • What are the benefits of reading in general, and what are the benefits specific to reading in the HL?

Curious about the benefits of reading in the heritage language? Check out our "Why Read" page (in English or Dutch).

Toolbox: How to motivate children to read in the HL

We have also created a page devoted to how to get children to read in the heritage language. The toolbox is fully in English and Dutch, and addresses:

  • What are general tips for getting children motivated to read in the HL?

  • What are ideas for activities to stimulate reading in the HL?

  • What are the most popular multilingual digital libraries?

Who can use the toolbox? Anyone who plays a role in helping a child develop a habit of reading. Below, there is an infographic with tips, which shows the many levels of influence, including the child him-/herself.

If your language group would like to have this infographic in your language, send us the translation and we can create it for you!

FAQ for multilingual children

Multilingual children who speak a heritage language (HL) will naturally learn to read and write in the school language – but they might not develop the same literacy skills in their HL. And even if they do learn to read in the HL, they might not exercise that skill in their free time. This is unfortunate, because regularly reading in the HL offers lots of advantages!

We prepared a FAQ to help multilingual children understand why it is worth their time to read for fun in their home language. We provide answers (in English and Dutch) to these questions:

  • Shouldn’t I spend time reading in Dutch? I need that for school.

  • I don’t know how to read in my HL. How can I learn?

  • I don’t have books in my house in my HL to read. What can I do?

  • There are books in my HL in my house and at the library, but I never read them.

  • I like to play video games and watch TV. Why should I read in my HL?

  • Sometimes when I read books in my HL, I don’t really get what they are talking about.


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