This is a review of Marc's language and learning for the first quarter of 2018.
A boy from England joined the class in January just for this term. His mother is Catalan and speaks to him in that language. The family have moved back and forth between Catalonia and England over the last 15 years, and are now settled in Bath. The idea of coming here for the term was to give the children extra experience in a Catalan school and get an immersion in Catalan and Spanish.
Agora also does 30% of the classes in English.
Marc became his buddy for this term and they spoke to each other in English.
The term in the country of origin is an excellent option. However, it can be very costly, especially if you do it through an organization. To cut costs, the cheapest way is to find low cost accommodation and go to a state school. Obviously, if you have family in the country, that will save on accommodation and food bills.
It works out more economical to do a full academic year. With an organization such as New Link, the 9 months can cost between 13-15,000 euros, and includes everything except flights and extra spending money. It's a big investment. Children generally do this year away when they are 14.
This Easter, in the village where we stay most weekends, Marc met a boy who also lives in England and has a Catalan mother. He speaks fluent Catalan, but said that he can't really speak Spanish well.
Marc also complains that he finds Spanish "strange" despite doing classes at school, some programmes on TV, and hearing his mother speak to me.
At school, this boy learns French and Italian. The languages depend on the availability of teachers. Again, with Marc he spoke in English as they'd met previously during the summer.
Marc is comfortable speaking in English with children who come from England even though they might speak Catalan due to speaking in a natural English and in an English accent.
I've found that spending time in the heritage language country is a key factor in the child mastering the language. Once again, if you have family in the country, it's worth taking advantage of this and having the child spend extended periods of time there.
Errors and how to deal with them
Marc exhibits total mastery of English for his age, taking into account that he's trilingual and in all the languages there is some 'contamination' or 'code switching' (the preferred term in linguistics).
He uses idioms all the time, and makes spontaneous plays on words. He uses all the tenses perfectly now, even "wish". "I wish you wouldn't tell me off all the time." "I wish it were Sunday", etc.
Whenever a mistake comes up, I point it out. For example,
Marc: "We ended out playing football. "
Me: "We say "ended up, but you know that don't you?
Marc: "Yeah, we ended up playing football."
Normally, these repetitive errors are erradicated. If the child doesn't get enough exposure the errors won't go away, so it's worth pointing them out in a 'matter of fact way'. There's no need to make a bg thing of it.
We've been focussing on Spelling, which is his weak point. We're working through Carol Vorderman's 10 minutes a Day Spelling Ages 7-11. The goal is to finish it before is birthday in May. And his birthday present will depend on it!! We're also be working on Vorderman's English Made Easy for 10-11 year olds, which isn't "easy" and includes malapropisms and Spoonerisms!
Regarding reading, I wanted him to start a Harry Potter novel, but he doesn't fancy it. Instead, he's started a Star War's novel called "Death Troopers", which is a gruesome tale about zombies aboard a spaceship that's adrift. It's the most advanced book he's read so far, and new words are coming up, for example "whack" or others that he didn't recognise in written form"throughout", which I'm sure we've used before.
Don't limit your child's English to just speaking the language. Being literate is also important to make the child's language richer.