Thursday 17 November 2011

Diglot Books Cymraeg - English ABC Book Review

As I am Welsh and Lee is English we will be raising Tristan bilingually to speak and write both Welsh and English.  When I was offered the opportunity to review a Diglot Books ABC book I thought it was very apt for us as we are a bilingual family.

We were sent Diglot Books’ “Cymraeg – English ABC” book to review and my first impression of the book was how eye-catching the cover is.  The ABC is bright and stands out from the white background and the cover also has the cute and striking character Diglot the Dragon.  Through out the book is the regular presence of Diglot the Dragon who is a friendly character who introduces a second language to children in an enjoyable way.  Diglot the Dragon is beautifully illustrated and I think it is lovely that children have a friend in the character who guides them along the journey of learning another language introducing new words and sentences to them.  Lee likes to give Diglot the Dragon a fun voice when he reads the book to Tristan making it more enjoyable.

Each letter of the alphabet has its own page within the book and they all have a word that starts with the same letter in both languages and they are represented by a picture of the object, most of the letters have a real life picture but a few letters have an illustration instead.  As well as providing a word that starts with the same letter in both languages for the entire alphabet each letter also has an expressive sentence that includes the object in question in both languages, which I think is great as it makes the book more interactive and increases learning of vocabulary in the language.  In the Welsh alphabet there are a few letters that are not found in the English alphabet (for example Ll) and in those cases they only include the Welsh word for the object but have a descriptive sentence in English about the object in question.  What I like most is that on each page Diglot the Dragon also asks a question, again in both languages, which encourages further learning and interaction.

Tristan is attracted to the bright colours in the book and enjoys having it read to him especially when daddy is reading it and attempting the Welsh words and doing a funny voice for Diglot the Dragon which makes Tristan giggle.  Lee says he has enjoyed trying to say the Welsh words and thinks that it is great that he can learn with Tristan.  Even though the book is aimed at 1 year plus I think it’s beneficial to Tristan to have it read to him at an early age to get used to hearing Welsh words and it will become a book that he is familiar with.

I really like this book and I am impressed with the simplicity of the idea behind the bilingual books.  What I like most is that it is not merely an ABC book as they have included sentences and questions to promote interaction and make learning more fun.  I like how the questions not only encourage language skills but that they also cover other skills such as numeracy.  I prefer the cute and bright illustrations in the book to the real photographs and would personally like to see more illustrations but I can understand how a picture of the real object would be beneficial in learning a new language as children can associate the word with the picture.

I believe Diglot Books’ bilingual books are a great aid to help children learn another language as seeing the words side by side in both languages enables a natural and easy learning and understanding of a new language.  The book is ideal for little ones as they learn best at this age when learning is something new is fun and exciting.  It isn’t essential that the parent knows the other language as it is also great if the parent/s don’t know how to speak the second language either as both parent and child can learn together.  These books are perfect for this generation of children who are used to seeing bilingual characters on TV like Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go and pick up words from another language through these shows; the books provide a great aid and introduction to a new language.  I really like the fact that Diglot Books provide Welsh - English products as I have seen bilingual products before but very rarely have I seen Welsh included in the languages they cover.

Diglot Books have included within the book a page to help parents with pronouncing Welsh, as a Welsh speaker I can say the pronunciation notes are accurate and I think their notes on Welsh pronunciation is very useful to parents who do not speak Welsh.  Lee does not speak Welsh and he found the pronunciation notes very easy to understand and helpful in pronouncing letters and words in Welsh correctly.  Also there is help with pronunciation on their website where Diglot Books provide free audio files to listen to that gives parents the confidence to say the words and sentences whilst teaching their children.  Not only do Diglot Books provide audio pronunciation aids but they also have on their website a list of tips to help teach your child another language and as they say on their website to become “bilingual diglottos.”

Diglot Books are experts in bilingual children’s books, providing parents with products to help teach their children another language giving their children the advantage of being bilingual.  On their website, Diglot Books state the benefit of helping your children be bilingual – “Learning a second language is known to increase a child’s creativity, flexibility and tolerance. It will provide your child with a better grasp of grammar and open up extra brain connections. The best time to teach your child a second language is whilst learning is still fun, and whilst this varies from child to child it is believed that the optimum time is between the ages of birth and 7 years old.

Diglot Books series of ABC bilingual books was inspired by the Wilma van Riel, who thought of the idea to create a unique bilingual ABC book whilst spending time with her toddler daughter, Sophie, who was trying to master the alphabet in two languages, her native Dutch and English.  The inspiration for a book that uses words that begins with the same letter in both languages came from the realisation that it is very difficult and confusing to get to grips with the alphabet in two languages, as stated on their website “Both mother and daughter found that it was very confusing to see a picture of a duck representing the letter ‘D’ when the Dutch word ‘eend’ begins with ‘E’.  And so ‘ABC Nederlands – English’ was born.”

Wilma van Riel and her friend, Alison O’Dornan (who has graphic design, business and website skills) created ‘ABC Nederlands – English’ and believing there was a market for bilingual books they created the company in 2010.  After extensive research regarding publishing the book they decided to set their own publishing company and created Diglot Books which became a registered company in 2011 based in Buckinghamshire.  Their series of ABC bilingual alphabet picture books are suitable for children from 1 year to 5 years and are available in several languages including Spanish, Italian and German.  Within their alphabet books each letter of the alphabet is represented by a picture of an object that starts with the same letter in both languages to prevent any confusion between the languages and to help make learning the alphabet in two languages easier.

Diglot Books ‘Cymraeg – English ABC’ book can be purchased on their website for £5.99.  Diglot Books full range of products can be found on their website, the range includes ABC books, story books, nursery rhyme CD's and flashcards in several languages including Welsh, French, Spanish and Portuguese.  I think their dual language products would make an interesting gift as they are different to the usual ABC books, story books and other products.  Diglot Books are continually expanding their product range helping parents teach their children a second language in simple and fun ways.  Diglot Books can be found on their facebook page and followed on twitter @diglotbooks take a look to keep up to date with news and new titles as they are launched.

This book is great.  Good luck learning another language – Mae’r llyfr hwn yn wych.  Pob lwc dysgu iaith arall.

* Diglot Books kindly gave us this book to review for free, despite this I have written an honest review that contains my own words and opinions and is 100% my own *

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