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Posts posted by 4KookieKids

  1. I always thought that my brain got the message that it was not supposed to be using English and as a result, substituted something else, in my case French, that being my other language with any size vocabulary. I only know a smattering of Spanish and German.


    I bet there is an official name for the phenomenon and that it is well known among people who study how languages are learned. : )



    I had a similar experience but with a different background. I grew up bilingual German-English in Germany until I was 11, but then moved to Colorado and spoke exclusively English from that point on (minus the last two years where I've been trying to "recover" my German and pass it on to my kids! :D) By the time I was in high school, I could understand most any German still, but was hard pressed if actually asked to speak it. Nonetheless, I usually spoke German in place of Spanish when I couldn't recall Spanish words. It took us two years to figure that out -- until I got a Spanish teacher who also spoke German -- because I never registered that I was doing it, and my first few Spanish teachers just assumed I was butchering parts of my oral presentations or mis-remembering words. (The latter, of course, was more accurate than they realized!)


    It was suggested to me that maybe German and Spanish were "living in the same place" in my brain, but that never settled quite right with me, since my German is mainly instinctual (even if weak), just like my English. I really thought it was what you suggested above, Nan, in that my brain just operated on a "not English" mode when I was learning Spanish. Once I realized what was happening, I think I just changed my thinking to "not English and not German," and I no longer had issues with mixing Spanish and German. But I really think that may have only worked because both English and German were so instinctual (I don't really mean that, but don't know what other word to use) for me.

  2. I feel pretty strongly that if my child shows an interest in a topic I'm going to support her interest and provide resources while she's interested. Haha...in some ways I think I'm just trying to re-educate myself the way I wish I had been at that age.


    This is a good point and really made me think today, because my son has really shown an interest in Spanish lately. We arranged for him to visit a spanish speaking friend once a week to start learning, but when I picked him up today, the mother shared with me that he's getting pretty frustrated at his slow progress (1 hr a week just isn't cutting it for him!) So I've been brainstorming with my husband how to get him more exposure and how we can find a good, trustworthy spanish speaking tutor/babysitter to come in a few times a week without breaking the bank.


    So much of our motivation to homeschool comes from me being incredibly frustrated in school once I started middle school (and had moved back to the US). Even in advanced classes, I remember just being bored to tears, and I remember thinking that I could do the same amount of learning (maybe more!) in 2 hours a day if they'd let me, instead of 7... So my husband and I thought, if we can give our kids a comparable (possibly better) education in half the time and then have them run and tumble and climb trees with all their extra time, later even learning things that they'd never have opportunity to learn in school, we're gonna do it! :D It's interesting to reflect on how our decisions reflect on our own experiences


    Thanks for the encouragement! I think I've decided that I just need to refrain from "perusing" all old posts. I'll search for something or start a new thread when I do have a question, but I really don't want to fall into the comparing trap with my kids. It's just bad for everyone involved, it seems. Our kids are all special and different, and there probably infinitely many good approaches and techniques, because there are all different parent/child relationships. :)

  3. I'm guessing that what she means is that each language has their own "mathematics" of how often letters appear. In english, for instance, everyone knows E, S, T, N are all common letters. But you can actually break down "common" english as to what percentage of letters used in "common" english are most likely to be E, S, T, etc. (i.e., the frequency distribution of letters in english text). So when playing word games in English, usually there are more of the most "common" letters, and less of things like z, q, etc.


    In other languages, however, the frequency distributions are almost certainly different, and it would make sense to have more and less of different letters.


    Thanks, all! I'm relieved to hear of people taking a more laid back / slower approach in the early years. I guess that *all* I was reading was more academically focused for this age, and I was just really stressed out that I'm screwing up my kids before they even get to school. :) It's so easy to feel like I'm "wrong" in areas that really just aren't black and white.


    It's interesting to hear that it may be largely a cultural thing, too, even though there are certainly variations even within a culture. This was why I posted this question here, rather than on the PreK/K forum. :)

  5. I'm fairly new the the WTM group, and have just been taking my time reading through other people's posts. The posts on the bilingual education board here have all been really great and encouraging for me, but I confess that I've been getting pretty stressed out reading the posts on some of the other forums... I'm getting the distinct impression my kids are "behind", and I wanted to ask about it here, because I wonder if it's not a cultural thing.


    I certainly want my children to have the best education I can give them, but I grew up with the mindset that kids (maybe 5 and under) play... Yes, they learn while playing, but they mostly... play. I didn't start any sort of math or reading until 1st grade. I don't think it hurt me, but I'm beginning to worry that it was just a fluke and I'm going to really disadvantage my kids.


    We play alot (blocks, cars, tea parties, etc.) especially a lot of pretend with my 3 year old, go outside a lot (bike rides, walks, playgrounds, nature parks, etc.), and do lots of art (coloring, water colors, painting, crafts) and music/dance, and, of course (since this is a bilingual board), are raising them to speak both English and German. This has really taken off the last month, when my 3.5yo started randomly talking to me all the time in German, instead of making me prompt him all the time. Additionally, he's learning to do chores and cook and stuff like that, of course.


    Is my own experience with grade school in Germany causing me to be too laid back with my kids' education? When my son was 2, he showed a real interest in letters for a while, and we did a bunch then, but then he got bored with it, so I let it go. I feel like their language and household learning is plenty for right now, but would like other thoughts on whether I should try to do more. I have been reading post after post from parents of PreK/K kids who are reading, doing basic math, etc. and are stressed out that they're not doing enough -- which leaves me thinking I must be ruining my children! Any thoughts?


    Edit: I don't really know what's "normal", even in Germany, because i was young when we moved there and then moved back by the time I was 12 or so. That was a really stressful time in my life (for family reasons), so I'm not even sure my perception of what I experienced there is accurate. So I hope to not offend anyone if I have the wrong idea about how it works there.

  6. I have two different thoughts on this, and they might be counter-culture. So feel free to completely blow them off! :)


    The first is that I don't think you should worry about her being behind. My experience (and I know this is still common in other countries) was to have my first math (counting, addition, etc.) not presented to me until 1st grade at age 6-7 (and by the end of first grade, I was adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, so I was not "behind".) I even ended up going to grad school for math. :D


    I also think that it's great that she "gets" what addition is about, and so can add using manipulatives. If she's really getting it, I would suggest you come up with whatever motivation you can to get her to memorize her basic math facts (single digit addition, multiplication table, etc.). I don't think this needs to be immediate, but I feel like it's one of the most important steps to having a solid math foundation, and the primary reason students have math trouble in later years. I don't recommend memorizing if they don't really understand the concepts yet, but at some point we all rely primarily on memorizing for basic math facts and I think it's important to solidify that as early as possible.


    As a caveat: I haven't taught my own kids math yet, since none of them are even 4 yet. So I speak from my own experience as a child, as well as from my experience teaching math, and working with math teachers for the last 10 years, but not yet from "the trenches". :)


    IMO - and I'm not an expert by any means - I like to see basic fractions introduced early - 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 - using manipulatives, but save fraction math for after multiplication is pretty solid.




    I agree with this. I think the age you do it matters less than having a conceptual idea of what a fraction is (which would come from the manipulatives) and having really strong multiplication skils. With those two tools, I've seen children successfully learn fractions as young as first grade, but more commonly not until late elementary school in the US.


    I'm no expert either, but I am in math education (I teach math teachers).

  8. For what age group? When my little guy was 2 (though it would work for older, just depending on your Danish language skills), we bought the BrainQuest for 2&3 year olds and went through it (we did it in German). It's not nearly as "trivia" as the older BrainQuests are and gives a lot of stuff to talk about! You just have to know how to say everything in Danish, of course. :)


    Edit: I just saw your little footer thing that says your youngest is 12, so maybe this isn't the best. Sorry! My guy just thought it was the funnest game!

  9. My son (3.5) has some motivation issues as well. What I've found to work well for him was just to explain to him in very simple terms why learning a language is important, and then to just consistently remind him throughout the day to say things in the other language (which gets extremely tiring for me, but works). Progress is slow, at times, but still happening. I would encourage the nanny just to keep at it, but I would also see if you can find a Spanish child his age anywhere to have even occasional play dates. My son has a Spanish friend his age, and he really took notice when she spoke Spanish with her mother. Even though I'm teaching him German, his interest in his friends' Spanish led to a really good conversation about other languages, and helped motivate him to speak more German with me, and also led him to express interest in learning Spanish too.

  10. We have also made good use of bookdepository.com, as well. It's not based in Germany, but it has quite a few German books. The caveats are that they are often older books (not used, just books that came out a while ago) and that shipping takes a long time (up to 2 weeks). The up-side is that prices are usually cheaper than amazon.de (once you factor in an exchange rate), and there's no minimum purchase for the free shipping, so you can just get a book here and a book there without having to break the bank in one order. :D


    It's also a good site for non-german books, because it has books in a variety of languages, and they ship free worldwide.


    I hope it's ok to bring back up such an old thread.

  11. If he still understands it, or at least some of it, can you make it interesting by trying to get him into some Dutch movies or childrens books / audio books? Maybe that sort of "immersion" (I know it's not really immersion, of course, but it's so different from an actual course that I don't know what it's called!) will give help his brain "remember" what it knows.


    I know that I learned German as a very young child, but then all but lost it by not speaking it for close to 20 years. What helps my brain remember its German best is actually not to do any formal programs, but just to dive into movies and books. As I read and hear, I understand and it reminds my brain of all that really is hidden down in there somewhere, and I think it would take far longer for me to get the same amount of German brought to the fore-front if I was doing a more traditional learning situation. Also, when I started teaching my son German, I found that there was no way he'd sit through those "learn German" CD's from the library, but if I rip the audio from movies he likes, and play them through an mp3 player or CD in the car, he's more than happy to sit and listen to them for half an hour or more even. (Every time we get in the car, he now asks to listen to them, and he's only 3! :D)

  12. So I don't know that I have "experience" in middle school study abroad, but here are a few thoughts.


    First, if you google "study abroad" & "middle school", you get quite a lot of hits, and lots of stories from people who've done it. So I certainly believe it's possible.


    Second, and this might offend the school in question (so they'd have to consider that beforehand), I think the middle school shouldn't have any say whatsover, legally or not. I think that they should deal directly with the Spanish school, get her placed and ready to go. Deal with the "return" part later -- the school will *have* to deal with it. We moved around a ton in middle school: I attended 6 different schools in 3 years, and also spent two months in 7 grade not in school at all. Long story short, is that school deal with this all the time. It may be a bit of a hassle for them, which is why they're discouraging her now, but there's just not a thing they can do about it, once it's done, honestly.

    We usually didin't even get things figured out before hand; I'd just walk into a school with hardly anything on me (I started just taking care of it myself in 7th grade), giving them my info, getting placed and then taking home paperwork for my parents/guardians at the time.


    Just saw that regentrude got a post out before I finished this :D -- and I totally agree that the worst they could do (other than empty threats and lots of bullying) is not let her back in (which they *can't* if they're a public school).

  13. When they were little, they were only allowed videos/cartoons if they were in German or Spanish. I'm such a meanie. ;)


    That's certainly the rule when I'm home, too! Even so, I find it hard to find the right balancing part. On the one hand, I'd love to have my kids have that "outside" exposure (e.g., anything other than me!) on a daily basis -- for several hours, even! But there's no way I'm going to let them sit there for that long, unless we're sick. :)


    Your spanish comment (or maybe just mention of 2 other languages) brings up another question for me (somewhat unrelated, so feel free to point me towards another thread if it might be more appropriate): We have friends who speak Spanish at home and my 3 yo has honed in on that. So he's starting to ask me how to say various things in Spanish when we discuss new German words. If I spoke Spanish even semi-fluently, I would say that maybe this just means we could start with a third language, but I only took 3 years of Spanish in high school and couldn't even tell him the word for carrot without looking it up. Any ideas on whether I should do anything? I feel like I've got my hands full with German right now, but don't want to miss this sort of great potential window. And I'm also concerned about confusing him more.

  14. Watch German movies, and read German books, both for yourself and with your child. You'll be amazed at how this helps. At that age, my kids loved Benjamin Blümchen videos, Kleiner Bär (dubbed from the English, but it's so sweet!). As they got into early elementary, all of the Astrid Lindgren videos (Pippi, Michel, etc.) can be watched over and over. You can find all of these easily on amazon.de. For yourself, read lots and lots of German - starting with some YA might be nice. Cornelia Funke and Michael Ende would be a good place to start. It's all there in your head, your brain just needs to be reminded to take it out of long-term storage. :)


    Thanks for the tips on videos to look into. The videos are a hard one for me (though we have been using them to some degree) because we generally don't do a lot of screen time. So we watch them very occasionally, and then once my 3 yo gets the story down some, I rip the audio onto a CD and we listen to it in the car and around the house all the time. I think he likes it more than most other audio books we use, because he gets more of the story (since he's seen the video).


    I've been reading what I can, though it really comes in spurts depending on busy my kids are keeping me. :D In the last six months or so, I read a bunch of English books that had been translated into German, because I wasn't sure where I was and I thought it would help to know the story. So I read the Harry Potter series, the Eragon series, and am halfway through the Narnian chronicles (though I've been halfway through them for about a month or two now...) It's been encouraging, because I do understand almost all of what I read -- but then again, I do know the stories, already. I think that once I finish them, I'll actually switch over to German YA books, like you suggest.


    I'll agree with this! If you don't know that many, there are lots of books/CDs. I also love Rolf Zukowski CDs, they're not all traditional songs, but great kids music. Liederkalendar and Vogelhochzeit are some favorites. He does also have some with more traditional songs, but you can also get those from lots of artists.


    Thanks! I'll look into those! I had a hard time finding a good book for the finger plays, because I just couldn't figure out the directions very well. Do you know of any video's that would be good for this? Maybe I'll check out YouTube! (Don't know why I didn't think of that sooner... :p)

  15. Yes, I think I would join their list and ask directly. I would ask about books, audio tapes/CDs, songs, practical advice on how to incorporate more German into your days, how to get your husband involved, how to brush up on your own German, and ask about if there are some people in your area that know German. There are also bilingual family sites or this site with some other helps for German families.


    Thanks! I'll spend some time browsing through all that information!


    There is also a German American Society in Omaha. They might be a good place to find like-minded people. Here (source) is another list of German clubs I found:


    NEBRASKAAmerican Historical Society of Germans from Russia 631 D Street Lincoln, NE 68402-1199 402.474.3363

    Erzgebirge, Inc. 1007 Howard Street Omaha NE 68102-2833 402.345.9627

    Freundschaft Tanz Club Omaha, NB

    German-American Heritage Society of Lincoln : 2405 S. 60th St. Lincoln, NE 68506 402.483.2855

    German-American Society of Omaha, Inc. 3717 South 120 Street Omaha, NE 68144 John Siegel 402.333.6615

    Heimat Tänzer Ok 3305 Augusta Ave Omaha, NB 68144 402.333.8099

    Liederkranz 401 West First Street Grand Island, NE 68802-0325 308.382.9337

    Sängerchor Omaha, NB

    Schützenverein Omaha Omaha, NB

    Skat Klub Omaha, NB


    I've been in contact with the GAS in Omaha, and we're hoping something can come of that soon! Most of their events are for kids a little older, unfortunately, and the ones that start around age 4 aim more towards children who don't speak German at home, I'm told. So I'm undecided on that (at least while I still have a 1 year old to pacify for an hour each way in the car!) But I think we may try it soon, and just see what it's like before making any decisions (they said he could come and see, even though he's not yet 4). What sounds most promising right now is that they're going to contact a few German families they know and see if anyone else has young kids and would like to plan play-dates.


    I'll check out some of those other groups too.


    You could also contact the Goethe Institut. Here is a link to a school in Nebraska that works with them. The Goethe Institut might know about people/events in your area. Or contact the German Consulate General in Chicago. They work with people from Nebraska.


    Good luck!


    Thanks! It all just feels so overwhelming sometimes. I don't feel like my German is coming along as quickly as I'd like it to because I'm always stumbling over words that I can't recall and I have to run to my dictionary (not particularly easy in the middle of story time while I'm trying to translate a new library book -- it's hard enough to get the 1 year old to sit still for 5 minutes!) and/or alter my sentences several times a day as a result. I have to remind myself that I didn't speak it for over 15 years, and I've only been speaking it again for a little over 1 year, so running to my dictionary and mixing up my cases some (even if it's 15 or 20 times a day) is a vast improvement over where I was a year ago! :D


    So from your website, it looks like you use a mix of German and English books. Do you still speak German when covering the English material? How did you decide which language to use for which topics/material? Or do you do most in both (I noticed that you had some in both languages)? Do you find it challenging to keep your children speaking German while living here, or has that not been an issue for you?

  16. I'm raising my children bilingually. I came to this country in my mid-twenties, but speak exclusively German with my children. I'm blogging at www.untroddenpaths.blogspot.com in both languages. If you are interested in German materials you could also contact the AATG. Alecia is another German-American homeschooler I know. She has an Amazon bookstore here.


    Wow! Thanks for all the great resources!


    I've tried contacting people I found on an AATG list of German schools in the US, I was hoping they would share curriculum with me, and also wondered if how often they get new books (here in NE, accredited schools have to buy complete new sets every 5 years, so you can often find great bargains on books when schools are getting rid of their old ones!) But so far, I've had very little response, which is a little disheartening. I'll give it a few more weeks, and then maybe try again.


    But you think contacting AATG directly would be good? What should I ask about? I feel like what I could ask is so vast, I'm not sure where to start (other than curriculum and books, like I mentioned above!)

  17. I think what I was looking for here was permission to move forward with concepts in the absence of memorization. We're adding in more daily drill time with a variety of methods and I'm hoping that will help him speed up his calculations while still feeling like he's making progress overall. He's so glad that we're almost done with that 2A book!



    I totally think that's ok, so long as you're actively working to get 'em memorized (like you said you were doing :D). I'd just want to get stuff memorized quickly enough that habits like using tables, calculators, etc. don't become too ingrained. It's a sad state of affairs that I've seen far too many high school students who whip out their calculators to calculate 21+13. True story!


    Edited to add: Not at all intending to imply he will be like this! Just commenting on having seen students grow reliant on other tools.

  18. Okay, so creative drilling. I can keep doing that. I guess I'm wondering if there's some point where the lack of math fact mastery will hamper his understanding of concepts. If not, I can keep drilling.


    So I've no experience with this from a home ed perspective, but I do have the perspective of a math teacher who has taught all levels of math, and who also teaches other math teachers at the graduate level. So I don't know if my perspective is at all helpful to you, but here it is! :)


    Let me just say that I'm a mathematician who hates arithmetic and I hate memorizing anything. I'd rather use my reasoning skills to derive a formula over memorizing a formula any day. *However*, the single biggest obstacle I see when teaching math (especially remedial tutoring) is a lack of arithmetic skills. While it won't hamper their ability to understand complex or abstract topics and ideas, their inability to do simple problems in new areas (without the use of a calculator) has a significant affect on their morale and their feelings of math competency, which quickly turns people away from math.


    I think it's absolutely imperative that students know what they're doing when they're adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. But I also think it is crucial that students have the basic arithmetic facts (multiplication tables, etc.) memorized cold as early as possible. So I would recommend using any and all motivation possible to get these memorized -- games, rewards. etc.


    I don't say this because it's fun or easy -- trust me: I really do hate memorizing things, and as a general rule, I almost always discourage teachers from forcing kids to memorize stuff. But if you think about the way you do math in your hard: if someone asks you 8*7, chances are (maybe not, just chances are) that you just have memorized the answer is 56. If they're going to excel at math, they'll end up with all of this memorized anyway, so my feeling is that memorizing it asap gives them a much better starting point for everything else.

  19. You just have to hunt up some more extended family!


    I'll work on it! Thanks for the idea. :)


    He is 6 this year and has a Chinese teacher at school who speaks only Chinese to the class. He is so good at it that she took my sister aside and questioned her about his previous exposure to Chinese. He understands the teacher and will answer in Chinese, with a good accent, where the rest of the class's accent is bad and they don't really understand. They concluded that it was his early exposure French!


    That's great! I had this experience learning Spanish in high school as well -- it was just easy peasy for me. :)


    I read aloud a lot in order to give him more grammatically complex sentence structure and vocabulary.


    It's a good point that reading alot gives them exposure to much more complicated sentences. Thanks. :)

  20. You can absolutely do it! I have a friend who emigrated from Germany when she was 13 - she spoke German to her kids when they were little, and they are so fluent now! If you were raised in Germany with German as your primary language as a child, you are a native speaker.



    Thanks for the encouragement!! I don't *feel* like a native speaker, which I think makes this seem more daunting. But it's encouraging to hear of your friend who was in a similar situation!


    We do already have a DVD player that can play all regions, and we have bought some movies from amazon.de. I just wish there was a more ready selection of used/cheaper stuff, because we can't keep breaking the bank to be buying new all the time! But used tends to have much higher shipping charges. :p


    Also, visiting relatives in Germany for an extended vacation can really solidify their skills, especially the active speaking that they are reluctant to use at home. You'd be shocked at how quickly passive knowledge becomes active in an immersion situation.



    I wish we had family over there, but all of our family in Germany has passed away since we left. I believe that my son's German could become active very quickly, because I've really been pushing him to speak it with me this week while my husband is out of town, and I feel like his German output has gone from maybe 30% before to somewhere around 60% without prompting, and 90% with me responding to English with a "Wie bitte?" or "Auf Deutsch?" So I feel like we're making really amazing progress this week, and it's exciting!

  21. It is very, very hard. We are a German speaking family, DH and I talk only German to the kids, and even so it is difficult to keep up the fluency (the kids prefer to speak English to each other and to us)

    A few suggestions:

    1. audiobooks. We have tons, and when the kids were younger, they listened to German audiobooks in the car all the time. Great for vocabulary.



    Where do you get your audiobooks? I've been looking at audible.de, but wondered if there are other/better alternatives.




    If they like worksheets, you could use some fill-in-the-blank spelling workbooks or such. We found remedial spelling books for German school students a good resource.


    This made me think of this website I saw: http://www.grundschulmaterial.de/content/elternmaterial

    I was wondering if anyone had experience with these materials, either the parent version or the teacher version? It looks like it could be promising, but could also get pretty costly, if you go through a lot of worksheets.

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