International Literacy Day: Literacy & Multilingualism

September 8 is UNESCO's International Literacy Day. The theme for 2019 is Literacy & Multilingualism. Multilingualism is the ability for a person to read or speak in more than one language. On this International Literacy Day, we celebrate those who can read in more than one language. Here are some reading tips for the multilingual reader.

1. Take your time. Don't rush through the reading. Whether you're reading in your first language, or your second, take your time reading. Make sure you understand not only the words, but the context in which they are being said. Pay attention to the tone of the story.

2. Keep an eye on punctuation. Some languages utilize different punctuation marks than others. For instance, in English, quotes from characters are generally surrounded by quotation marks (""). In Spanish, the same quotes will be contained within angular quotation marks («») or long dashes (—).

3. Don't fear the dictionary. Keep a dictionary handy while reading in a secondary language. If you come across a word you're not familiar with, look it up in the dictionary. From there, see how the word is used in the context of the novel to figure out the correct meaning.

4. Compare the reading. This involves having two copies of the same book, just in different languages. Have the book you're reading in a secondary language also available in your primary language. Keep them open at the same sections side by side. You can either read them interchangeably, or use the primary language version as a reference when you come across a section you're having trouble with.

5. Listen to the reading. Match the book with the audiobook. It helps to follow along with a reading while listening to a native speaker. You'll get insights into tone, inflexion and the context in which it was intended.

Test your literacy skills with our Novel Study Guides. Match the English version of the resource with its Spanish counterpart. Get started here.

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