Recuerda que explico mi situación particular en inglés viviendo en Cataluña, pero podrías usar las técnicas e ideas para cualquier combinación de idiomas.
Summary. In this post I give an update on Marc's language progress from the beginning of 2014 until his 7th birthday in May 2014. I go over the teaching and fun activities I'm doing with him in English and talk about the visit from his grandmother and niece and nephew at Easter.
He seems extremely comfortable in English, speaking fluently and accurately with an English accent and also playing in English on his own. He prefers his favourite television programmes in English, and when we stayed in a hotel recently he asked to change the language to English on the Spanish channel Boing. This is no accident of course, as I've insisted on all TV programmes and films he watches at home being shown in English, and I also imagine that he does this as he expects I want it like this. If we 'have to' watch a sports event with a Spanish or Catalan commentary we do our own commentary in English!
He'll be finishing year 1 primary in June. Agora International school is a useful supplement for the children of English speaking parents as there are 3 subjects taught in English as well as English itself. This year there's an American boy and two English girls with whom he speaks to in English.
Despite the cost, due to the English input and the high standards of its academic, sports and cultural syllabus as well as the importance given to good behaviour and moral ethics in society, we find the fees justifiable. Only Europa Sant Cugat comes close to being an 'effective' choice for English parents.
Creating a language island at home for the heritage language can't be overstressed. If you are serious about your child speaking another language, the home should be associated with the target language and should act as a linguistic trigger the moment the children (and the adults) walk in the door. It's an environment we can control and we should take advantage of this. Don't waste the opportunity, especially when they are young.
TV and Films
Without overdoing it we let him watch children's TV everyday combining this with traditional games and toys. The one important change is his 'migration' and preference from BOOMERANG with Scooby Doo, Mr Bean and Tom & Jerry (not much talking) and Looney Tunes to CARTOON NETWORK (CN) which has programmes with a content for older children although there's some overlap. I've tried to get him interested in CN before but he wasn't that interested. In the end, the child chooses what he or she wants to watch but it's worth trying the other channels to give them a taste.
The programmes on CN have a higher linguistic input. Examples are Gumball, Uncle Grandpa, Ben 10 and Johny Test. They are all American with the occasional English carácter. Normnaly a baddie!
Don't underestimate the importance of these programmes as the passive input becomes active output if you give the child enough opportunities to talk to you.
We have a subscription with SKY to get more children's programmes.
It seems that all of a sudden he's computer savvy and very soon we're going to have to control his use of internet! He is able to look for programmes and songs he likes on YouTube.
He likes Minecraft and has become more efficient at using it with help from his 8 year old cousin.
The names of the materials appear when you hover the mouse over them and I get him to read them and also get him to tell me about what he's doing.
If you watch the programmes and the computer games with them rather than using them as a 'babysitter' then you get more interaction and it all becomes less passive. Ask questions: " What's going to happen next?" "Why didn't they use that weapon?!" "Do you think aliens really exist?!"
BOOKS and Writing
We've been following the Oxford Book tree series as before and have just started level 9. These are books he reads out loud. We often do the Reading outside the school in the car in the mornings I can take him and at the weekend.
I realise that I'm finding it hard to get him to write. So, we're using Carol Vordermann's ENGLISH Key Stage 1 course for 6-7 year olds to get him used to writing and spelling. We do a page at a time and he gets a Star to stick on the exercises he's finished. We done about 8 pages so far. I try to make it as fun as possible as he's not enthusiastic about doing it!!
Thirdly, I'm Reading a Geronimo Stilton book to him which I do most nights. This is at a level above his own Reading ability, and also introduces new vocabulary and interesting facts.
In the beginning I was adding all the new language he was acquiring but now it's difficult as he has a consolidated language store equivalent to an average native speaker of his age. He's adding new phrases and words to his lexis all the time from the sources mentioned above. I sometimes add idioms or proverbs that come to my head: "Every cloud has a silver lining" (no hay mal que por bien no venga). And I repeat them a few times and we talk about what they mean. The 'errors' he makes are either typical for a monolingual native speaker , e.g irregular past tense verbs, superlative adjectives (I noticed this in his older cousin), or he sometimes translates phrases directly from Spanish or Catalan which I pick up on and unlike a year ago I now deal with them overtly and directly such as:
"in English we'd say xxxx ". Remember that due to lower input you need to give some feedback, but never do it in a negative way.
VISIT FROM FAMILY
His 8 year old and 11 year old cousins visited at Easter and he played with them a lot, everything from football, playground activities, toys, Minecraft, watching cartoons together, etc. the extra exposure from children really helps and probably contrast with my more adult imput. He asked me what 'instantly' meant, which his cousin had used. I was surprised as I thought we'd used it but maybe I never do! Thus, multiple inputs are important!
He'll be going to his cousins' primary school in England for the last 4 weeks of the term, which finishes on 23 or 24th July in England. EU children have the right to attend the state schools in the UK. The main handicap for parents is organising acommodation and care of course. the experience itself is unbeatable. Through my school www.advantagelanguages.com we can organise 3 weeks in an English secondary school with accommodation (from 12 years old).
If you have any questions please feel to let me know.