sábado, 4 de junio de 2016

Up to 9 years old May 2016 - Hasta los 9 años mayo 2016

Summary . This is an update of activities and language till the end of May 2016, which includes a look at reading material, games, TV and a look at how to schedule language routines and input into your week and year.
En esta actualización hasta finales de mayo 2016, hablo de lectura, juegos. TV y como crear un calendario de rutinas e inputs linguísticos cada semana y año. 

As Marc is getting older his language is getting more complex. He's able to play with language more, including imitating voices and accents. He loves imitating Yoda's way of changing the word order of his sentences, known as Yoda Speak. So, "you can learn to speak like Yoda" is rendered : 
"learn to speak like Yoda you can. placing the subject and verb at the end of the sentence. 
As you would expect, use of conditionals and irregular verbs is getting nearer to perfection. 
His use of idioms is increasing, for example, "you look tired Daddy, why don't you have a snooze or get some shut-eye." or "It's a piece of cake."  
If he doesn't know a word, he asks. In Britain's Got Talent, he didn't know the word "overshadow". When teaching the words, try and give more examples. It's always funny when the children start using these new words and phrases; something which adults seem to do less frrequently. 
He still plays in English, and the only exception I've noticed is when he played in Spanish using a game he's played with a friend in Lleida. 
Any mistakes which are made are usually bilingual speaker errors, where a phrase or structure is translated literally. 
Regarding pronunciation, the only word that is resisting 'standardisation' is "worry", where he says the 'o' similar to the'o' in orange. It sounds a bit American.  I just thinks he likes saying it like that! 

In the video below he explains his dream house. He loves drawing, so I try to get him to label and / or talk about what he's drawn.    One of the buildings outside the house is labelled 'Strip'. He explained that this was a striptease place! I said, What's that? and he replied, 'a place with chicks dancing!!! And he didn't get that from me!! 

Marc gets most of his English input from me, but also from classes taught through English at school, and he now has an American classmate who joined the school in April. They get on well and he recently had a sleepover at the family's house. 

Understanding American English isn't much of a problem as most of the books he reads and the programmes and films he watches are in American English. This wasn't a conscious choice, there's just so much of it!    

He is mad into Star Wars, and he now has all 7 Star Wars videos and several books about the films. 
And we finally gave in and bought him a Play Station 4. One of the games is Battlefront based on Star Wars, of course!  I changed the settings to English so all games and instructions are automatically in English. This is all part of the strategy to maximise input in the heritage language. It's easy to get lazy. 

I made a first time ever exception to watching cinema films in Spanish for his 9th birthday as we were in Vic, and there are no original version cinemas there. Refusing to go would have been radical at this stage, and a two hour film in Spanish doesn't diminish his English! 

As mentioned previously, he likes Minecraft and is learning a lot of vocabulary about building materials. A bewildering amount in fact. Check it out!

Here are the book series he's reading. He's on his 6th Wimpy Kid novel. One of the main changes this year is that he reads on his own, and the latest book he's received from school doesn't have any pictures!!!! We're reading this one together. 

Wimpy Kid series

Star Wars Craze

More Activities for Spelling and Reading 
Spelling Game
Marc told me about a spelling game he likes and we've been playing it; e.g. in the car.
One person thinks of a word, and the other person has to think of one starting with the last letter of the previous word and then spell it. Example:
Black -
Knight - K-N-I-G-H-T
Telephone -T-E-L-E-P-H-O-N-E
These versions of songs are great as you can see the spelling -sound coincidence and comment on it. Marc was surprised by the way Charlie Puth in One Call Away sings the words "...got nothing on me, where 'me' rhymes with away. and "nothing" sounds like nuthang ! Very American and also a typical  way words are changed to fit a specific line in a song.


Spelling and Reading in general
Words are everywhere and if you provide enough material in English, whether books, songs or games, even PS4, you can focus on certain words and their spelling.

I think that if you want to take the language input seriously, it's a good idea to explicitly plan in the times you're going to  be with your child AND speak to them. This way, you can keep a check on how much input they're getting. 

I write the times I'm going to take or pick up Marc from school in my diary.  In my case this year, I've been able to stick to Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I get to the school about 20 minutes early and we normally read a book together. We've been doing this since he was about 5 (I need to check back through this blog!) I pick him up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I try to make the times we are alone together from 5pm-7.30 or 8pm . We normally go to a cafe/ restaurant such as Viena, and have a snack and a chat and then either read, do some drawing, do some exercised from the Carol Vorderman series or even help him with his homework, even Spanish or Catalan!  We treat them like foreign languages and discuss the answers and explanations in English.  And sometimes we'll go bowling or windowshopping together. 

At the weekends, I try to do as many activities in common with him as possible, walking, riding a bicycle, playing football or othe sports, shopping, bowling, eating together, watching films and TV programmes together.  I also give myself time to myself, otherwise I'd go mad.   

The point is, by explicitly planning you make sure you spend enough quality time with your child. It's a win-win and you can then plan when you're going to spend time with your partner and children too. It's important to spend time alone with your child as they need that language input.  

If you have any comments or any questions, please feel free to write. 

2 comentarios:

  1. Hi Simon,

    I certainly enjoyed reading your blog. I saw that your son is going to Agora in Sant Cugat. I am considering sending my son to Agora as well, and I was wondering whether the English teachers are native speakers. He would join at the infant education level (he is 3 years old now).


  2. Victor
    I've just amanged to get back into my blog after a long time. Most but not all of the teachers are native speakers. I'm not sure right now what the situation is currently,things change, so you'd need to check with the school. It's not like Oak House, it's trilingual, so if Agoira is the only English input, a child will only reach an average level of English, and this is my experience of the school.
    The best of luck