The 8th September has been celebrated as International Literacy Day since 1966. Aimed at promoting quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives, as well as mobilising efforts of governments, society, and parents in improving world literacy rates.
International Literacy Day 2019 will focus on Literacy and Multilingualism. You may think: "Shouldn’t we focus on reading and writing in one language first?" However you'd be surprised how learning additional languages can help with overall literacy skills, understanding English, and developing other skills.
Across the world, many young people are taught more than one language from a young age. Often learning English, children in dozens of countries expand their opportunities by learning a second language and it's well known that children find it much easier to learn languages than adults as their brains are primed to take in information and be more flexible.
By comparing how words translate and the ways that sentence structures change, looking at the differences between languages can help advance the awareness of skills needed to read and write in English.
Not only that, but the origins of many English words come from other languages including German, French, Latin and more. For example, did you know ‘amuse’ comes from the old French word ‘amuser’ meaning to waste time?
International Literacy Day is also celebrating multilingualism because reading and writing is something that can be enjoyed in any language. Countless writers have seen their work published in multiple languages, allowing other people to enjoy their writing, and develop their literacy skills in their own language.
Roald Dahl is one of the most celebrated children’s authors in the world, having written more than 17 novels for young people - including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and Matilda - and film scripts such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. As of 2015, Roald Dahl books have been translated into 59 languages and sold over 200 million copies, allowing children across the world to enjoy his stories.
Since 2006, the works and life of Roald Dahl have been celebrated on 13th September and you can join in by reading one of his books, or visiting the website here for more ideas on how to get involved in events and fun across the UK.
Everyone from parents to the UN recognise the importance of literacy, but how can you help to improve the skills of your child?
As part of the work for International Literacy Day, the United Nations has put together some resources to help encourage people to improve literacy. Take a look at videos, publications and downloads available now, that can help you better understand the need and benefits of basic literacy skills.
Setting aside a regular time when you can read a book with your child creates good memories that lead to an enjoyment of reading. Sharing the enjoyment of a book creates a bond between you that also allows you the chance to highlight any problem areas with their reading. Establishing a reading routine can improve literacy skills at any age. Whether you’re reading to them, they’re reading to you, or you're asking older children what they're reading and getting them to explain what it’s about.
If your child is amongst those who say they “don’t like reading”, why not try alternative reading materials? Comic books and graphic novels have boomed in popularity and now offer ways of enjoying a variety of genres with an additional visual element. With colours and pictures, the reader can still increase their understanding of language, and learn about literary devices such as onomatopoeia and different sentence structures.
If you’d like to offer your child specialised 1 to 1 support to improve their literacy, consider letting a tutor help. Providing concentrated support to the individual learning needs and challenges of your child with an experienced tutor can help boost their confidence and dramatically increase their knowledge in the subject. Search for an English tutor in your area by clicking here and start the important first step in improving your child’s literacy skills.