lunes, 23 de mayo de 2011

2011 – FIRST Quarter 1st Jaunary – 16th May 2011 4th Birthday

2011 – FIRST Quarter 1st Jaunary – 16th May 2011
Summary /Resumen
Es un resumen que destaca los progresos principales en inglés de Marc durante el período del 1 enero 2011 hasta su 4 cumpleaños, 16 mayo 2011.
This summary highlights Marc’s English language progress from the 1st January 2011 up to his 4th birthday on 16th May.

I’m pleased to say that Marc has continued his progress in English to a stage in which to all intents and purposes he can pass for a native speaker for a child of his age. He gives the impression that he can ‘chat away’ in English and also plays exclusively in English whether alone or accompanied. Since going to school I’ve noticed that his Catalan that he uses when talking to his mother has improved and he very rarely says anything to her in English except for English words which have become part of his Catalan vocabulary.
Over the 4 years I’ve recorded a lot of his output out of interest and also for other people to compare what I’ve been writing in this blog if they have any doubts.

Due to greater than ever demands at work and the fact that I often have early starts every morning, I can’t see Marc then, which I like to do, and have to rely on his mother switching on the British children’s TV to give him some input. Any early morning that I’m free I make sure I’m with him and try to take him to school and take advantage of the extra 20 minutes with him. Despite working late some evenings I can still spend 2 to 3 hours talking to him and only once or twice have I found him asleep when I’ve got in. ‘Luckily’, he goes to bed between 10.30-11pm most nights which means that I can nearly always spend time talking to him. Sometimes I just feel like going to bed or saying nothing, but I think it’s the extra effort in these cases that has helped so much. At the weekends he’s been getting 6-10 hours input with me per day. I don’t really count the school as having a significant input yet as they sing nursery rhymes for half an hour a day and he may say the occasional phrase to the English assistant.
Next year the school will become ‘international’ with whole subjects taught exclusively in English, which I see as being a positive supplement to the English he receives from me.

Media input
The majority of the midweek nights we watch British TV together, and I try to find something suitable from the adult TV later on, such as quiz shows e.g (The Cube), singing competitions (American Idol) documentaries or even football matches if they’ve on. We’ve even watched snooker and darts which he likes and has plenty of scope for language input.
At the weekend we watch either Cbeebies or Tinypops which has a lot of Canadian talking animal cartoons, eg. ‘Timothy goes to school’. It also has commercial breaks which gives input of a different type, such as ads for Disneyland and Disneyworld .
We also pick out clips from films he’s liked, such as Spykids, or songs we’ve heard on the car radio. He still likes some old favourites such as episodes of Woody Woodpecker and the Pink Panther.
Other sources of input
Other people
At the beginning of January he had a Scottish childminder a couple of mornings employed through my agency. We went to the UK for a week in March and he had contact with my mother and his cousins, and my mother visited at Easter and spent 3 days playing with him intensively. Sometimes it’s good to see him getting input from other English speakers and hear him picking up new words and expressions.
We got a visit from a friend of mine from Dublin and his 9 year old daughter and he had no problems understanding the Dublin accent, unlike me when I went to school there when I was 12!
Game and books, etc.
I try my best to read a book to him every night but there was a period in January and February when he was being ‘difficult’ and wanted to go to sleep with him mother on the sofa in front of the television. Luckily, since about March he’s ‘allowed’ me read him a bedtime story in bed. I’ve bought three new ones this quarter: ‘The Gruffalo’ , Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel. He’s very interested by the relationship between the characters and wanted me to explain what a ‘step mother’ is, which isn’t easy to grasp for a 3 year old!
We also read a book about the earth and universe, and refer to the globe that he has in his room. I loved the way he took my mother to his room and told her all about Japan and New Zealand where they had earthquakes. His main hot topics are planes, space and rockets.
Perhaps the language advantage of a father having a boy is that we can play ‘boys’ games together, such as football, catch, basketball and recently simple forms of cricket and ‘golf’ by hitting plastic balls. He also set up a table with marbles and made a ‘snooker table’.

As mentioned in the summary, He is pretty fluent and tends to babble on sometimes, especially if he’s excited about something. When he’s explaining something, e.g from his day at school, he sometimes has to think about the words and I try and help him by guessing the word, “We went to a …. “ Me; ‘farm’ etc.. Interestingly, he doesn’t ask me to translate the word from Catalan. Up to now there have been few words that he didn’t know in English anyway. I’ve only had to include a few new ones for a couple of subjects, such as ‘PE’ (Phsyical Education) and gym /gymnasium / do exercises/ acrobatics, etc. some parents may be tempted to just leave the Spanish name of the subject but I prefer to find the equivalent which keeps everything in English and is useful if talking to his English cousins.
He also realizes without any doubt now that he speaks different languages. He knows he speaks English, Catalan and Spanish. So, if I ask him if mummy speaks English as well as Catalan, he’s able to say “, yeah, but not properly!”
A very important point is to NEVER laugh at or put down the child if they can’t find a word or make a mistake. This could lead to a lack of confidence in the best case and have disastrous consequences in a worst case scenario and the child might decide not to speak the language anymore to avoid being laughed at. I know of one real case of this. Take it into account. The most effective method is to help them find the words and be patient and give them time to explain themselves. And then congratulate them. Well done, you really explained that well. I loved that story” You should feel proud of them!! Lose the super strict, language disciplinarian parent in these cases, because it’s likely to backfire badly.
He asks ‘Why?’ all the time. It can go on for up to 10 explanations!! And can test the parent’s general knowledge. However, I’m getting to the stage now when I say, ‘it’s not ‘why?’ it’s ‘how? for example. It means he gets a lot of input and I suppose he’s just trying to make sense of the world, although sometimes I think it’s just laziness!
We’re going to the swimming pool.
So you can learn to swim better and it’s fun.
Because you have to go to a pool to learn don’t you?
Yes, why?
Because it’s the best place. Do you like going?
Ok, Look for your towel and swimming things.
I continue to support my theory that a parent has to correct or reformulate if the child makes a repetitive mistake, e.g an irregular past tense verb, because of the fact that they won’t learn it from anyone else, unlike a child that gets 8 hours input in English at school.
So, when he says ‘What did happen?’ I say “Say: what happened? And he repeats it. He ‘s finally starting to say it correctly.
He says ‘on myself’ instead of ‘by myself’. I ‘blame myself for introducing ‘by myself’ and ‘on my own’ at the same time. I reformulate by saying ‘, “ ok, you mean ‘you did it on your own, right?” I’m pretty certain this will work itself out in time with gentle reformulation and the input from TV.
He’s started using more question tags. He used the Canadian ‘eh?’ for a while which may have some from tinypops! But it disappeared anyway after a couple of weeks.
He’s using ‘aren’t you’ and ‘didn’t you’ and ‘isn’t it’ the most. He sometimes makes small mistakes such as: you didn’t go to work, didn’t you daddy? which is all part of the process.
Comparatives. Still some confusion here. E.g It’s much more better
Negatives. Still confusion nothing and anything. E.g What were you doing Marc? - Anything.
Where were you? - anywhere

As noted above he rarely mixes up the language especially talking to me. Once when remembering a conversation with a classmate he said’ Lorenzo was wearing a ‘disfras’ (costume). In fact he learned costume and to dress up in English first. As usual I said ‘what? you mean a costume? He replied ‘no, a disfraz’. He was really tired and a bit ratty, so I left it and the next day he came up to me and made a point of talking about costumes.
It should be pointed out that native speakers who live in a country for a long time sometimes drop common words into an English conversation, especially if there isn’t a precise translation, so the odd addition of these typical type of words shouldn’t alarm anyone.
He picked up ‘mend’ and then ‘dodgy’ from my mother while playing a ‘humpty dumpty on a wall’ game. He using phrasal words well now,e.g Are you going to pick me up from school today daddy?’ Also, his question forms are very good. Sometimes when we tries to ask a negative question he has to think about it and sometimes makes a mistake.
I try to feed in new Vocabulary and phrases whenever I can.
‘It’s raining cats and dogs’
What’re you up to? He now uses ‘What is he up to?
Or I add in synonyms like this. Daddy, that’s big, isn’t it?
‘Yes, but not just big, it’s enormous/huge/massive!!
We’re still working on ‘win’ vs ‘beat’ and now he’s nearly got it right but not quite, which shows how difficult some words are to learn. We use them a lot as he likes sport and is competitive all the time, which is good if you want to learn a certain word!!
Also, ‘in/at the end’, isn’t clear to him yet.
He says words which are the same in both languages with an English or Spanish pronunciation depending on who he’ talking to. Eg. Name of films, and interestingly he even says the names of his friends with an English pronunciation! E.g Lorenzo.
From watching some American films, e.g Planet 51 and the Tinypops Canadian cartoons he seems to pronounce some words with an American accent sometimes without realizing it e.g as in ‘rock’, and other times for a laugh,e g. Astronaut which he learned from Planet 51.
While watching ‘Crocodile Dundee’ I pointed out the use of G’day mate’ for greeting people’ with the Australian pronunciation. Whenever possible I point out words and pronunciation from other English speaking countries.
My friend from Dublin pointed out his English pronunciation and got him to say ‘Dublin’ with the Irish ‘u’, which we laughed about.
He started saying “sings’ instead of ‘things’ for some reason and still occurs sometimes now. I make him repeat ‘Things’ and I think it may be a temporary stage.
According to my wife he recited an English rhyme from school with a slightly Spanish accent, probably repeating what he heard. A bit miffed I got him to repeat the same one to me which he did with an English accent, which shows he’s aware of his pronunciation. It also shows how important it is to have a good model of pronunciation from the beginning.
Tongue twisters
I’ve taught him two of these fun rhymes:
Red lorry, yellow lorry (good for the pronunciation of the English ‘o’ and the Rs)
She sells sea shells on the sea shore. (Also teaches shells and sea shore – this is where you can find pictures of beaches)

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