domingo, 25 de septiembre de 2011

June - Septiembre 2011 Summer / Verano 2011 - 4 years old

Resumen / Summary This summer period has been characterised by fewer than ever notes taken by the author but more video espcially since buying a Blackberry that makes spontaneous video easier and showing Marc's English to other people easier too. Now he's speaking so much, it's more difficult to select exactly what to write down. Also, his progress in grammar is less apparent as his English is getting more accurate all the time. This summer we tried out some English school alternatives. INPUT He'3 finished school year P3 at the end of June and we were faced with the usual dilemma of childcare. www.english-nanny.com provides the option in English but living in Mollet it's more difficult to find somebody. For one morning I got an English carer to look after him for the morning in Barcelona and he enjoyed that. Although, as often happens the first time with many children, he was a little shy. I also repeated this one morning system at the beginning of September. In July we decided to send him to ISCAT in La Garriga, which is an English medium school. He enjoyed the atmosphere there, as it is small, cosy and friendly. However, the classes were more English lesson centered than we expected and he was the only native speaker child. this meant that although the classes were in English, there was a focus on structures which were irrelevant to him. Also, as he's quite shy sometimes in classes the teacher thought he didn't speak much English and I noticed she spoke to him as if he was non-native. When I played her a video of Marc 'chatting away' in English on my Blackberry she was quite surprised. After that she made him team leader in the class but the 3 weeks there weren't that enriching for him. Jumping to September, he started P4 and this year at Agora, Sant Cugat they've changed the school into an international one. In real terms this means that 40% of school time is immersion in English, with two English speaking teachers in the class taking care of the teaching through the medium of English. Another 40% is in Catalan and 20% in Spanish. There's another English speaking boy in his class, who has an English mother, and Marc says they speak English together. He only joined this year so isn't one of Marc's 'friends' yet. Obviously, from my point of view, the new set up promises to be very benefial to Marc's English as he'll be learning to read and write using the phonics method which is being introduced by the head of English Ruth Sale. We spent two weeks in England in August and checked out school offering so called HOLIDAY CLUBS to look after kids of working parents during the holidays. We found one which is part of a school very near to my mother's flat with a view to using it next year. We went to check it out with Marc and there was a 'tame' fox in the playground field which fascinated him. We also saw squirrels. The main point is 'selling it' to him and we let him talk to the kids setting up 'tents' under a tree. The amount of real English here would be very beneficial and we hope to try it out for a week next August. Parents should look at these options as an alternative in the summer. We managed quite a few trips and visits over the summer in England or English. We spent 2 days with my friends Nigel and Dawn and their son in Potter's Bar. After a day together they were playing happily together and enjoyed the day we spent on an 'activity farm' nearby. We spent a long weekend at Butlins in Minehead as an experiment!! Not everyone's cup of tea. I had some vague idea of Marc speaking and playing with other children, but as he wasn't doing any team games no real interaction happened. Only the half hour sessions in the play area of the restaurant in the evenings when he finished before us were spend playing in English with the children. Next year we plan to go with his cousin who'll be with him all the time and will probably be more fun than with his parents all the time!! While staying in my mother's flat Marc became 'obsessed' with a DVD: 'Monsters and Aliens', which he watched every day! Regarding films, they are a fantastic way of giving input. It throws up the issue of what type of language and also British vs American as most of the films tend to be American. He finds Monsters and Aliens easy to follow and hugh Laurie does the English accent of Doctor cockroach Phd yet other films have more slang and more extreme regional accents. My mother stayed with us for a week in September before the term started and thanks to her almost endless patience she spent most of the day with him, which was obviously fantastic for his English. A case in point is CARS and specially CARS 2 which became his first ever film he's seen at the cinema, and in 3D. Michael Cane does an English accent but Mater the tow truck has an extremely strong American accent and uses a lot of slang. Also, I thought the plot was more complicated than usual. Perhaps it's aimed at older children not 4 year olds!! ROUTINES I've tried to keep the book at bedtime routine although sometimes he's either not in the mood or too tired. Books included the classic fairy tales, the Gruffalo, a new one called the Pirate Cruncher he picked out in a bookshop and his books on the 'universe' and space. If I'm around in the morning I always wake him up, make him breakfast and sit with him as we watch CBeebies. Then if I can, i take him to school. this give an intense one hour contact to start the day. Sadly, It looks like I'm going to working at least 4 out of 5 mornings again this year. In the afternoons when I'm not in I'd like him to watch at least 1.5 hours of children's TV in English. In the evenings, I'm usually able to see him a couple of hours. We normally watch TV together, although it's adult TV. Very often they are talent shows, Britain's/ America's got talent and the X Factor are favourites. Some films that are 'appropriate' such as the X-Men or other space or superhero adventures that we deem 'ok' are watched in English. OUTPUT As mentioned in the summary, I haven't taken as many notes as before. In general, his English is really coming along and many of the errors are typical of any native speaker of his age, e.g irregular past tenses, comparative forms (much betterer), anything/nothing (I don't want nothing) , questions tags (although he's nailed the 'I'm right, aren't I? tag!) , and some prepositions (I'm good of that). He still plays in English all the time with only the occasionaly Catalan word or exclamation. And aftet his exposure to English, even at ISCAT he spoke more in English to his mother again. Since she doesn't tell him not to, and she understand him he doesn't really have an issue with it. Correcting his mother. Sometimes he'll ask her to say something in English (or I will) and then he cruelly laughs when she doesn't get the pronunciation right and taunts her 'again, again'! Learning and using new input Marc often surprises me when he comes out with phrases from films or TV programs or songs or even tongue twisters that I thought he hadn't learned. Once he reeled off a whole speech from a the 'alien' from monsters and aliens which sounded word perfect. The point is never underestimate the passive input that a child is getting. Obviously, you have to make sure that this is complemented with speaking interaction. Why? He still asks 'why?' incessantly and I'm trying to get him to ask 'how?' when it's the more relevant question? He also does this in Catalan. It show curiosity at least, even if it does become tiresome sometimes!! I sometimes make him ask the full question by asking 'Why what?´' and to be honest his question formation is excellent. not suprising with all that practice! Oddities He goes through stages, perhaps experimenting) and says things that I don't expect. One such occurrence was the use of 'yer' instead of 'you' at the end of a sentence. e.g 'Here's a ball for yer'. I haven't heard this for a while now. He sometimes picks up a word and then uses it wrongly. He learned 'allergic' from my mother and has used it to describe the English that the English speaking boy in his class uses: "I'm allergic to Ts English (!). I'm still not sure what he means as he can't explain it, perhaps his voice or accent or expressions? Perhaps due to my strictness, in English the intrusions are few and far between and words slipping out in Catalan are unusual, e.g 'disfraç' (costume), 'close the light' (turn off the light), he more frequently freely mixes sentences with his mother or adapts English words to Catalan, e.g lockejat the door' (locked. Catalan doesn't have one word for 'lock'). Awareness and current level He is now aware of other accents and sometimes immitates voices from American film characters. He's now fully aware that 'daddy's language' is English and that he speaks 3 languages. As far as his level in English is concerned it is probably in a par with an average child of his age and his accent is southern English and so far neither adults or children in England have mentioned his accent or if he might be foreign. I'm wondering if he'd be teased for being from Spain despite sounding English if he were in a school in the UK. His cousin introduced him to a friend as 'my cousin from Spain', which is accurate of course but obviously conjures up the connotations of probably not a native English speaker. These and other issues related to 'identity' will be more important when he's older.

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