Regina library offers family language kits to new immigrants

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January 24, 2014 - 3:06pm Updated: January 24, 2014 - 5:04pm
Grade 7 student Jun Hee Park shows Korean childrens book at Glen Elm Library. Adriana Christianson/CJME
Grade 7 student Jun Hee Park shows Korean childrens book at Glen Elm Library. Adriana Christianson/CJME

Immigrant families are getting a boost for practicing English with their kids thanks to new Family Language Kits at Regina Public Libraries.

The kits include childrens' books and picture dictionaries in seven different languages with English translations. The idea is to help parents learn English while reading to their kids. It also helps kids retain their first languages.

Jun Hee Park is in grade 7 at George Fergusson Elementary School but she’s very happy to be signing out a bag full of Korean children’s books.

“I’m going to tell my brother and read the book and how to write,” she explained. She says this will help her whole family because her mom is trying very hard to learn English.

“My mom she was looking for a English picture dictionary so it’s in here so my mom should like it,” Park said.

But she also wants her little brother and sister to read Korean because they were much younger when they moved to Canada and they might forget their language. Park thinks it’s important to keep up their own language so they can talk to their grandparents and other relatives back in Korea.

Chandra Rai was also at the library on Friday with the EAL class from the school. He moved here in 2012 with his mom and dad, three brothers, a sister and his grandmother. He often visits the Glen Elm Library with his friends but this time he found a book he remembers from back home.

Chandra Rai holds up Hindi book. Adriana Christianson/CJME

Chandra Rai holds up Hindi English picture dictionary. Adriana Christianson/CJME

“I found a Hindi book I will read with my dad, my dad loves to read a Hindi book,” he said.

He says it will help his parents practice reading English while he and his younger brothers and sister can practice Hindi at the same time.

“I like to learn English and Hindi too,” he said.

Charles Ottosen is in charge of the branch at Glen Elm Library and he pitched the idea for the language kits when he saw a similar program with bilingual books in multiple languages offered in Edmonton libraries.

“The kits are aimed at immigrant parents with young children to help learn English together as a family,” he said.

This program is in addition to various English as an Additional or Second Language classes offered by Regina Public Libraries to more than 600 immigrants around the city. One of RPL’s current programs is also available to immigrant parents to come to a group session with their babies and toddlers to learn English skills together. He hopes these book kits will not only help parents learn English but also allow them to help their kids retain their first languages. The kits are offered in seven languages including: Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Korean, Chinese, Urdu and Spanish.

Kids open up Family Language Kits at Regina's Glen Elm Library. Adriana Christianson/CJME

Kids open up Family Language Kits at Regina's Glen Elm Library. Adriana Christianson/CJME