The entries from now on will be in English with a summary in Spanish.
Apartir de ahora, las entradas serán en inglés con resumenes en castellano.
Getting them to Read - HOW TO DO IT Empezando a leer - COMO HACERLO
Since the summer the focus has changed to getting Marc to read in English.
At school he's being taught to read in Catalan with a focus on the sounds. Like Spanish, the language is very phonic and is far easier than English. While he goes through pages of discrete sounds in Catalan, in English the initial pace is much slower, and the number of sounds are fewer in English.
I feel that he’s mastered spoken English to a native level for his age, his accent now sounding south of England with some Dorset influences. The amount of expressions he remembers and the expressions he picks up from TV and songs amazes me,a nd the use of these media should never be underestimated. His language shows some intrusions from Catalan. “put me some milk”. And interestingly, there are some English intrusions in his Catalan, especially vocabulary that he just uses but changes to a Catalan pronunciation! He doesn’t do this in English as I haven’t permitted it. In Catalan, since he lives here, this won’t be a problem. In both Catalan and English the mistakes are mostly overgeneralization, e.g he fighted me, and many previous irregular verbs are beginning to be said correctly. It’s a matter of time but also the discipline to provide the correct model: Marc: Daddy, the boat sinked. Me: Right, so the boat SANK, did it? Marc: yes, it sank.
As always, quality language input in, quality language out. They are worth it!
HOW TO GET THEM TO READ
You can start getting children to recognise words in brand names and logos, e.g the food they're eating, company names on buildings or makes and model logos and badges on cars and motorbikes. If you take the trouble you'll see how quickly they pick them up.
From about age 4, the place to start is with the alphabet (try Sesame Street for famous singers doing it), and then the sounds the letter make. Search youtube for songs such as "A is for apple, a a apple, B is for ball, b, b ball, etc... There are at least two versions. He started the same at school when he was four. Whether they do it or not at school doesn't matter, if they don't, you MUST help them, if they do, then the complementary work will really help them make faster progress.
Remember, DON'T treat this as WORK! Kids normally find the reading and sounds practice fun, depending on how you do it and what books you use.
As Marc got nearer to five I used to pick out words for him when I was reading the bedtime stories.
READ THEM A STORY EVERY DAY!
One day inevitably I brought out the Level One book for him to read. While the books you read to them should be getting more and more complex, you suddenly begin with books that start. "This is Tom. This is a dog." Luckily, the books have been graded and then words carefully chosen so they begin with 'phonic' words, that obey the rules, and include just a few 'irregular' or tricky words that don't obey the rules, but are very common: e.g. 'the', 'was', 'come', i bought him a Tricky word book and we ended up doing a race to see how fast he could read the words. (see video).
Marc has resisted a bit to reading, as it can seem like a chore at first, but you MUST PERSEVERE. They WILL begin to pick up the rules and learn the irregular words. Right now, he's still at Level One (Ladybird books), but should be moving to Level 2 in the near future, progress permitting.
IDEAS FOR THINGS TO BUY
There are an awful lot of books on the market, but here are some ideas that have worked:
1) The ladybird series of graded readers
2) Jolly phonics series of 7 books. Marc is about to start book 7. They make them as interesting as possible with funny characters, stickers, pictures to paint, matching games, board games, etc.
3) Leapfrog products. The activities are loaded from the website onto a special tag reader pen and it recognizes the books you’ve bought which you download onto the pen.
There’s a tag reader series of books, I’ve bought Toy Story 3 and Tangled. Each page comes with further activities. You can buy bundles of readers. The Leap pad tablet has been given mixed reviews, especially as the price of books you upload are expensive.
There’s also a Leapfrog discovery activities series. I’ve just added the human body to the Planet Earth and a Space one. They are very instructive and well thought out. Recommended. They use mostly British and American English at the same time and Australian on the Planet Earth one that deals with countries and culture.
4) TABLETS. There are now dedicated tablets for children with Apps already loaded. the ipad seems to have a lot of apps. They add an extra dimension too learning. I've just bought a Samsung Galaxy tab 2. and I'll review the usefulness of this for language learning in my next blog entry.
1) I find that the time of day and the mood is important. If they're tired or distracted, you're almost wasting your time.
2) Be patient and don't be too strict. At first you'll need to 'give them' the words and get them to repeat them. Being the authoritarian strict parent is counterproductive. If you find your own patience waning, it's probably better to change activities, because it's a problem for me when I'm tired or stressed!!
3) Use a reward system and challenges. I use a reward ladder with 10 boxes we fill in with gold stars when he reads a book and let him put the stars on the ladder. at the end he gets a prize. Also, we do things like: "try and read these sounds / words as quick as you can. It makes it more fun. Or you can cut up the words and pictures in some books and get them to match them. The more fun it is, the better.
4) Get them to write the words as well as read them, and try and make rhymes or sentences with them, the sillier the better! Many books give you this option. See my recommendations above.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!