Distance Learning: Digital Reading Resources for Multilingual Learners
COVID19 is threatening our society and has a huge impact on our education systems. UNESCO estimated that nearly 80% of the world’s student population is not attending school due to the effects of the virus. An estimated 1.4 billion students are out of school and 138 countries are affected by school closures.
Of course, #LearningNeverStops: even when schools are closed and students are not physically able to attend, there are resources that can help schools, children, and parents in this difficult period. The Rutu Foundation curated a series of Free Digital Resources specifically for Multilingual Learners which we will be sharing during the next weeks, so check back often or subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Free Digital Reading Resources for Multilingual Learners
This is our first series: Multilingual Reading Resources is created to help multilingual learners with their reading skills, offering a huge variety of books and stories in many different languages from around the world. Our own AVIOR bilingual materials are suitable for young learners (4-8 years). Use the time at home to explore new places, meet new heroes and discover new languages! This will keep the kids occupied for hours.
COVID explained to children
We know that for children it is hard to understand what is going on in this period and for parents to find the correct way to explain the situation. For this reason, we looked for some resources that could help parents to approach the topic and make children more aware of the difficult situation we are facing.
- COVIDBOOK – COVIDBOOK is a special book designed by Mindheart. The text is available in several languages and it is accompanied by fun and colorful drawings;
- Talking about CORONA VIRUS-19 with young children – This UNICEF book is full of drawings and simple explanations and it addresses the emotions that children can feel in this period. It is available in PDF in English, French and Spanish;
- Wash your hands – a picture book for the young ones with narration in 19 languages.
- Global Storybooks Portal – Global Storybook Portal is an online platform that provides children and young readers with stories written in many languages. All tales are accompanied with audio, which is also nice for children who are speech and/or hearing impaired. The platform offers different books with simple texts and colorful drawings suitable to be read and shown to babies and young children;
- Bilingual-picturebooks – As suggested by the name, Bilingual picture-books is a website where bilingual readers can find a variety of books and stories, created by children accompanied by colorful pictures. All resources are for free and you can choose your own language combination;
- African Storybook – African Storybook provides more than a thousand illustrated books available in 189 African languages. It also includes simple tales appropriate to be read to toddlers;
- Audible Stories – Reading stories is an essential and powerful activity to keep children busy and delighted during this difficult period. However, listening to stories can also be an amazing activity! Audible Stories offers audible books in English, French, German, Japanese, Italian and Spanish;
- Bedtime Stories – Finally, Bedtime Stories offers books organized by topic and type, accompanied by a selection of video and audio books. All stories are available in English and Spanish.
Preschool and Primary school (4-12)
- StoryWeaver – If you are looking for some vibrant reading resources for preschool children, StoryWeaver is a wonderful solution! The platform offers almost 20,000 storybooks written and translated into more than 200 languages. All stories are accompanied by colorful pictures that make reading even more enjoyable;
- Global Digital Library – Several multilingual books and stories are offered by Global Digital Library. Contents are divided by children’s reading level, providing everyone with reading resources based on their own linguistic skills;
- WorldStories – Another interesting online platform dedicated to reading activities is WorldStories. It is a very clear resource where books are presented by language, offering hundreds of stories with shiny pictures;
- Global Storybooks Portal – Simple texts, colorful drawings and a huge variety of languages make this platform a perfect resource for all kind of readers;
- African Storybook – More than a thousand illustrated books available in 189 African languages, from basic readings to more complex ones;
- Bilingual-picturebooks – A great variety of reading resources, all for free and with the possibility to choose your own language combination;
- Unite for Literacy – Unite for Literacy offers many illustrated stories for beginners on a variety of topics, e.g. family, earth, animals, food. Texts are in English but they are accompanied by audio resources available in Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Cup’ik, Danish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Karenni, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese and many more;
- Children’s Books Forever – Other free digital books are offered by Children’s Books Forever, a free online platform gathering illustrated books for children all around the world. Books are available in Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish;
- Audible Stories – An online platform that offers audible books to to keep children busy and delighted during this period! Stories are available in English, French, German, Japanese, Italian and Spanish;
- Bedtime Stories – For some night entertainment, Bedtime Stories! An online platform that includes a selection of video and audio books suitable for bedtime;
- International Children’s Digital Library – The ICDL platform is a huge online library suitable for children all around the world! It offers a great variety of books available in many different languages. Moreover, texts are accompanied by colorful pictures representing cultural and social features related to the stories, an essential resource for children’s linguistic, cultural and social inclusiveness!
- Lux+Louise is a new inclusive book with multilingual songs for blind and visually impaired children. The book contains tactile illustrations, text and braille, and explanations for reading music. The songs are available in four languages: French, English, German and Dutch.
- Renaissance at home is a platform that offers free access during the COVID-19 crisis. Digital books with audio support, as well as news articles in English, Spanish and French, are part of their library.
Secondary school (13+)
- Feedbooks – For young readers we recommend Feedbook, a digital platform which offers thousands of public domain Fiction and Non-Fiction books. Among others, readers can find a huge selection of (literary) classics available in English, French, Italian and Spanish;
- Audible Stories – Not only suitable for children, Audible Stories is a great resource also for grown ups, offering many audible books in English, French, German, Japanese, Italian and Spanish appropriate for all ages.
AVIOR Bilingual Materials
As part of the AVIOR project, the Rutu Foundation together with its partners, developed bilingual materials for early literacy and reading. The goal of the project that ran from 2016-2019 was to reduce the achievement gap between native and non-native pupils in Europe. To provide quality education to all children, bilingual materials for early literacy and numeracy for age groups 4-8 were developed.
Stories and language games are available in 9 language pairs including German-Turkish, Russian-Estonian, Italian-Arabic and many more! The stories A Different Kind of Chick and Chocolate Cake on Hawaii are available in the different languages. The free online materials can be downloaded here. The stories are from the website Bilingual Picturebooks which offers stories in more than a thousand languages.
The bilingual materials developed as part of the project are open educational resources in different language pairs. The materials are selected and developed by the partners, sometimes the teachers and complemented or developed by parents as well. A user guide is available for the selection, the translation, and the usage of the materials. Therefore, these materials can be used widely, after some adaptation.