When you are teaching non-readers to read, environmental print is very important. Students who are learning to read want to read and they want to read everything! So, reading soda bottles, cereal boxes, street signs and billboards is just as important as reading books. This presents an interesting conundrum for me, because all of the environmental print that my students see are in French and/or Arabic. I have had many parents tell me that they try to sound out the French words – often using English phonics with interesting results! While this presents a challenge – it also presents some interesting opportunities. Here are some ways to use turn this “challenge” into an “opportunity”:
1. Make the connections between the cognates in the two languages (saucces and sausage).
2. Make an “I Can Read” book with the pictures of store names and well known logos etc. that can be sounded out with English Phonics.
3. Have an “English Scavenger Hunt” – Lots of products (cake mixes, cereal boxes, etc.) have ingredients and/or instructions in multiple languages – often including English. Encourage students to look and see if they can find English in unexpected places.
4. Make your own Environmental Print – use signs, posters, and labels to make sure there is a lot for your students to read in your room and/or school.
How do you use Environmental Print in your room?