Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Diglot Bilingual Books Review

We live in Wales, which has a proud culture and it's own language which is taught to all the children in school. In fact the children are all taught through the medium of Welsh and English is slowly introduced as they get older. I was 6 when I moved to Wales and within a couple of years I was fluent in the language, because as a young child you pick up and learn languages a lot easier than an adult does. In fact my brother, who is only 4 years older than I am, found it a lot harder than I did to learn Welsh. 

Diglot Books are a wonderful way to start introducing a second language to children as young as 18mths but what makes Diglot Books special is they were founded in 2010 following one of those simple over a coffee conversations that often happens between friends. Founder Alison O'Dornan was visiting her friend Wilma vanRiel when Wilma mentioned a small but inspirational idea that she had for a bilingual ABC book for toddlers that only use words that began with the same letter in both languages. The idea stemmed from time spent with her 18 month old daughter Sophie who was trying to get to grips with the alphabet in both her native Dutch and English languages. Whenever Sophie was looking at a book on her own she would often get confused when the picture and the letter didn't match the word she thought of in both languages. For example when the letter "D" was represented by a picture of a Duck, which worked in English it didn't work in Dutch where the word Eend begins with "E". Alison was so inspired by this simple idea that she did some research to find out if anything like it already existed, and when she found there was nothing out there, she set about finding a way to make the idea into a book. 

Fast forward to 2011 and combine that initial concept with Alison's desire to inspire ordinary parents that it is possible to raise there own children to be bilingual with all the cultural, creative and academic benefits that two languages brings and Diglot Books Ltd was launched. Since those humble beginnings of a discussion of an ABC book in Dutch and English around a kitchen table, Diglot has now extended its range to include a range of products in several languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Welsh and Dutch and are continually expanding this list. The free audio files available help parents and children alike to listen to pronunciation and build confidence, the dual language parallel text in the books aids subliminal absorption of the vocabulary, and the ever friendly presence of Diglot the Dragon creates an enjoyable interactive way for children to learn a second language. 
**The top 2 paragraphs are taken from the Diglot Website About Me page**

Diglot books sent us two bilingual Welsh books for my daughters to look at and they were both big hits with my daughters, their teachers at school and also my Welsh teacher. 

The first book we were sent was the ABC Book

The book is full of lovely illustrated drawings and pictures and even covers letters in the Welsh language that don't exist in English (such as DD, LL, CH and PH) but doesn't include letters in the English language that don't exist in Welsh (such as X). With one letter, the letter F there is a note at the bottom of the page and a picture of a Van is used. This is because the Welsh letter F is the same as the English letter V and there is no words that begin with F in both Welsh and English (Welsh also has a FF which is used as Ffram/Frame)

What I really liked was at the front of the book there is a note on pronunciation for parents and how each letter is pronounced at the front of the book, along with a web address where you can find a free audio pronunciation guide for both Welsh and English on their website. Another thing I liked was that on each page there was a question for you to ask the child in both English and Welsh and the translation is exact with each picture having a sentence about it i.e Roedd dinosoriad yn byw filiynau o flynyddoedd yn ol, dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.

The other book we were sent was Matthew and the Wellington Boots.

This book is a lovely story with beautifully illustrated pictures and tells the story of three year old Matthew and his search for the correct shoes to wear to play in the rain. 

The book is written in both Welsh and English with colour coded parallel text. A lovely touch, which I really liked is that some words are in bold so that you can see which word is the correct translation of that word and help you learn what you are reading i.e This is Matthew. Dyma Matthew. Matthew is three years old. Mae Matthew yn dair oed. Another lovely touch is the way the page numbers are written on each page, 14, fourteen, un deg pedwar which helps you learn your numbers as you are reading the book. There is another notes for parents on the front of the book along with a web address where you can find a free audio pronounciation guide for both languages on their website. 

My children and I really enjoyed these books and it especially helped my 7yr old with her reading as she has just started learning in English (she started learning to read Welsh when she was 5) and it also helps my 5yr old and 2yr old learn both their English and Welsh alphabet. It's so nice to actually find some bilingual Welsh books as well, as a lot of bilingual books tend to be French or Spanish. I would recommend these books to everyone who has an interest in learning Welsh or wants to help their child learn a new language, especially the Welsh who no longer live in Wales but want to help their children learn Welsh and remember their heritage.

Diglot are a small company and really appreciate your support so go and show them some love on their Facebook and Twitter pages as well as their website when you can sign up and learn about upcoming titles and all about their books, CDs and Toys and Games.

I was sent a free copy of the ABC and Matthew and the Wellington Boots book on the understanding I would write a review of what I thought of the books. I received no payment from Diglot and the above review is written in my own words (apart from where stated) and is my own honest and unbiased opinion of the books. 

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