Monday, August 29, 2011

Language learning

Long before my kids were born, I had plans to teach them more than one language.  I mentioned that desire, and how well my initial attempts went, in this post.

So I was off to a later start than I anticipated, but not willing to give up my efforts.  I heard from multiple sources that Rosetta Stone was a great program to use for acquiring a second language.  Last year I taught my daughter at home, but with assistance from a county funded charter school.  The charter school provided us with free access for using Rosetta Stone.  I was so excited!  And then so disappointed to discover that it didn't fit with my daughter's learning style (at least at this age).

Hmm... what to do?  I don't expect my kids to become fluent in another language at this age.  But I do want to expose their minds and ears to other languages and make it easier for them to learn when they are old enough to value the benefits of knowing a second (or third, or fourth...) language.

Then it dawned on me.  I taught my kids how to speak English!  I didn't purchase an expensive curriculum to assist in my efforts.  They speak English very fluently (in fact they rarely stop using their language skills).  In just a few short years, they have been quite successful at largely mastering English.  So what did I do?  I talked to my kids, I played with them, and I read books to them.  They still like it when I talk to them, play with them, and read to them.  Can I teach them Spanish in much the same way?

I'll give it a try!  I took about 3 years of Spanish in high school and college.   My knowledge base and pronunciation of the language leave a little (well quite a bit) to be desired.  We purchased a children's Spanish dictionary.  Other than that we have been relying on the library to aid in our learning journey.  We have been checking out duplicate copies of children's picture books, one in Spanish and one in English, and reading them side by side.  I have found books by Eric Carle to be especially useful for this.  His books have fun illustrations, a fairly simple storyline, and lots of repetition.  We've also been borrowing CDs in Spanish, both stories and music.  I figure that will help us with pronunciation, even if we are not able to understand all that we hear.

We have been playing games to help the kids remember what they are learning.  For example, when learning colors, the kids ran to an object that was the color I said.  I have also been trying to mix some Spanish words into my everyday conversations with the kids.  "Can you please bring me the shirt de rojo?"  So far everyone is having fun learning a new language!

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