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riada
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I took two years of spanish years ago and all that stuck with me was some basic vocab and simple sentences. I would like my children to learn Spanish but unless we spoke it daily, throughout their their childhood/adolescence, would they retain enough to be able to speak it fluently and carry on conversations?

 

How many of you have taught a foreign language to where your child/children can speak it fluently? What languages did you select to teach them and why?

 

Thanks in advance!

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I'm currently bringing up my daughter bilingually. In English, since so many people here in Australia use it ;) and Auslan because Daddy is half Deaf. At the grand old age of one, she isn't fluent in either yet, but they are both developing so we're happy. She gets far more English input than Auslan, but we both sign to her in the same sorts of situations that we'd sign with each other, so she'll come out fluent in the end.

 

In order for kids to become fluent, they need regular input and a reason to use it themselves. Most kids from predominantly monolingual communities aren't going to have the perspective an adult does (might have) to understand that it really can be worthwhile to put in those years of effort. So, do your kids have somewhere to use their Spanish other than with you? Somewhere where it is easier or more comfortable for them to speak Spanish rather than English? If not, they probably won't learn enough to be fluent, or remember enough of what they learn. They will, however, have a major headstart when they decide to re-learn it later; and they probably will want to.

 

I'll put my daughter through a course of Latin, like most people around here. If I stay in this state, I'm seriously considering sending her to Saturday school from first grade, more as an extra-curricular activity (and time off for me!) than as an important academic subject. I'm not fussed which language she chooses, and it depends what is available in the area we're living in. The choices where we are now are German and Mandarin. In the whole state there are something like 140 different languages taught. There is more reasons to learn a language than language proficiency, in my opinion. Learning another language and culture opens the mind, and that won't disappear even if the vocabulary does.

 

So, by the end of her homeschooling career, she'll be fluent in English and Auslan, and ought to be reasonably proficient in Latin and one more.

:)

Rosie

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It depends on what you mean by "fluency". If you mean, able to speak another language as well as I speak English, then neither dd nor I are fluent. However, I am well able to get around, watch the news, read a magazine or book. I still have to look up slang and some argot, and every once in a while I miss an idiomatic use. Dd has medaled in the National French Exam for five years now, so I'd say she's doing pretty well (3rd or 4th in the country, but I don't think she's fluent.

 

My point--there are levels of fluency. I don't think you can achieve true easy-as-a-native unless you spend significant time in another country, in a situation where you must use the language every day, extensively (i.e., not in an American school or military enclave or corporate compound).

 

But, I think you can achieve a highly pleasurable level of functionality at home, by listening, reading, etc., and that can be maintained indefinitely. It is better if it is continuous (even, say, listen to Euronews every evening for 10 minutes), but it can be put down then picked up again even after many years.

 

If you got yourself a text, or listened to Destinos (www.learner.org) every day over the summer, I bet a lot of Spanish would come back to you. It was tougher for me to get back to speed on Algebra than it was on French when I revived French after 10 years of not using it.

 

Spanish would have been easier since we have several local Spanish language tv stations, but with the advent of the internet, there is plenty to watch and listen to in other languages. I think you can steadily learn and improve, and when you get the opportunity for immersion practice, grab it.

 

I discuss this more on my Memoria Press page (my own experiences in learning French), and there is a great boo by Barry Farber called How to Learn Any Language which I highly recommend. I have followed his methods for several languages, some of which I speak well, and some of which I speak on the level of, "Is this dish chicken?"

Danielle

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My point--there are levels of fluency. I don't think you can achieve true easy-as-a-native unless you spend significant time in another country, in a situation where you must use the language every day, extensively.

 

But, I think you can achieve a highly pleasurable level of functionality at home, by listening, reading, etc., and that can be maintained indefinitely.

 

Very good points. In my bilingualism subject at uni, fluency was described as having three levels. The first being "shopping list" level, where you can get around and accomplish the basics of life. The second was "newspaper" level and the third was "academic." Many native speakers don't get to academic levels of fluency in their own languages, but you wouldn't say they weren't fluent in the language. I think newspaper level is what I'd call fluent in a language. Academics aside, there is little you can't manage to do or understand.

 

I call myself fluent in Auslan, but I am certainly not native level, and never will be. It's as good as impossible for a hearing person to become native level fluent in a signed language. The Deaf will code-switch. They even code-switch with their hearing children, which I think is an interesting phenomonen. Anyway, I digress...

:)

Rosie- who managed to get around Poland on about 20 words of Polish. Thank goodness THEY learn a second language!

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My mother grew up speaking what she called low-German. Her father was born in Germany, and her parents did not allow the children to use English in the home. Mom learned English when she attended school.

 

After leaving home and getting married, my mom never used her German--her and her siblings chose to use English with their parents as well as with each other. I can remember when I was young, relatives from Germany came to visit my grandparents, and my mom could barely follow the conversation; she was not able to talk with them at all.

 

Now I know we are discussing more than just a language--this was a generational thing where the kids did not want to have the stigma of their parents' language. It was typical in the 2nd generation immigrants. Maybe they forgot "on purpose" so that they would not be "different". I don't know.

 

I would love to find out if my mom and her siblings would be able to learn their 1st language easily (if they were to study it) and if they could speak like a native speaker, or if that has been lost over the years.

 

My M.A. was in English Linguistics, and I studied 2nd language learners --even wrote a paper on children raised bilingually, reading tons of studies on this topic. Someday, perhaps, I will go back to this and study it further. It is a fascinating topic to me.

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(Nothing to do with learning languages - he only understands a little French and the purpose of the trip has nothing to do with learning a language.)

I'm just popping in while I brush my hair LOL, then I have to go back to packing.

 

I suppose you could say I've been successful, both at retaining French for myself, and at teaching my 13yo enough French to be able to really use it. I wouldn't call him fluent, but he can watch a movie, understand what people say to him, have a conversation, and read children's books at about the level of Harry Potter.

 

I hung on to my own very poorly taught high school French (which got solidified by spending 4 weeks with a family in Switzerland one summer in college) by reading one book a year. I began with TinTins and three children later, I could read Harry Potter, relying heavily on dictionary. When we began homeschooling, I began reading more and my French improved to the point where I can now read an Agatha Christie in French without a dictionary and actually escape into the book and not notice the French.

 

I taught my youngest French by speaking my horrible French to him for about 6 months consistently (sort of an excersize in how little you can get away with saying to your child - sigh), then intermittantly after that, and joining the French library and reading lots of fun books to him. After a bit, he began reading them to himself. We knew we'd been successful about 3 months into the project because my son talks in his sleep and we could hear him dreaming in French. I think as long as he uses his French periodically throughout his life, he won't lose it. It is really easy to hang onto a language if you want to. We're at the stage now when I have him read a bit a few times a week and occasionally we'll watch a movie or I'll tell him to do something in French. I managed to find a tutor for him this spring, and she's teaching him to write a bit. It's something we'll just keep working on from time to time. It no longer takes lots of effort.

 

HTH

-Nan

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I taught my youngest French by speaking my horrible French to him for about 6 months consistently (sort of an excersize in how little you can get away with saying to your child - sigh), then intermittantly after that, and joining the French library and reading lots of fun books to him. After a bit, he began reading them to himself. We knew we'd been successful about 3 months into the project because my son talks in his sleep and we could hear him dreaming in French. I think as long as he uses his French periodically throughout his life, he won't lose it. It is really easy to hang onto a language if you want to. We're at the stage now when I have him read a bit a few times a week and occasionally we'll watch a movie or I'll tell him to do something in French. I managed to find a tutor for him this spring, and she's teaching him to write a bit. It's something we'll just keep working on from time to time. It no longer takes lots of effort.

 

 

I joined the French Library in Boston, too. Have you done any of the classes there? I was thinking of doing their 0-3 playgroup with my daughter.

 

Thank you for the description of how you did it. I'd really like to give my daughter the language foundation that I never had.

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Well, my dh's experience was that of a child going to a Spanish pre-school in South America. They only spoke English at home because his Caucasian mother didn't speak Spanish. They moved back to the states for a few years, until his Cuban father was transferred to South America again.

 

They always went to British schools because they were ex-pats but they watched TV in Spanish and played and spoke with the neighborhood kids in Spanish. Anyway, when they first moved back to South America, my dh tells me had the distinct impression that he had heard the language before and he was sure he understood a lot of what people were talking about. Basically, it was not foreign to him. He and his younger sister learned Spanish fluently. His older brother (older by 13 months) didn't. However, as an adult he married a Parisian girl and has lived and worked in France. His French is now better than his Spanish ever was.

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Well, my dh's experience was that of a child going to a Spanish pre-school in South America. They only spoke English at home because his Caucasian mother didn't speak Spanish. They moved back to the states for a few years, until his Cuban father was transferred to South America again.

 

They always went to British schools because they were ex-pats but they watched TV in Spanish and played and spoke with the neighborhood kids in Spanish. Anyway, when they first moved back to South America, my dh tells me had the distinct impression that he had heard the language before and he was sure he understood a lot of what people were talking about. Basically, it was not foreign to him. He and his younger sister learned Spanish fluently. His older brother (older by 13 months) didn't. However, as an adult he married a Parisian girl and has lived and worked in France. His French is now better than his Spanish ever was.

 

j

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Just curious, what's code-switching?

 

Thanks for sharing,

 

Kimberly

 

 

I guess the spoken language equivelent is dumbing down. You know, speaking slowly, using small words etc. At the extreme, speaking as though the person is some kind of idiot.

In signed languages it means signing slower, fingerspelling more (things that could have been signed), using more lip patterns or actually voicing, avoiding the use of classifiers, using English sentence structure, avoiding all use of what we called "Vocab B" at Tafe. They're the signs that don't translate directly into English. That sort of thing. It can be unconcious, or it can be because you are a Hearing Person (meaning some kind of idiot,) therefore couldn't understand proper sign.

Make sense?

:)

Rosie

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I learned French at school. After three years of classes I went on an exchange and lived in a French family for a month. At that point I was relatively fluent (although my vocabulary was not huge). I carried on studying it at school then university. It's rusty now, but I can still read a novel or a newspaper, and the spoken language comes back fast when I need it. I'll be starting my kids on French in a year or so.

 

My boys have been immersed in Mandarin for the last four years: Chinese household helper, tutor, friends, etc. I wouldn't describe them as bilingual, but they are definitely fluent.

 

Laura

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I finally did the sensible thing and finally asked permission to share this post from a gifted mailing list I'm on. The author has another list for Spanish resources which I'll post after I receive it.

 

Please tell me if I've missed any identifying information so I can edit it out. You many need to make your window bigger so it doesn't wrap funny.

 

Here's what we've used with my 12 yo dd (8th grader) who is learning

French. (My dh took French for a number of years and has a good

accent. I took French 2 years in high school and my accent is not good

at all.) We started in May 2001. This has worked to give my dd a

fairly good accent, good French phonetics for reading out loud, and a

good understanding of written & spoken French.

 

Currently, she's taking French III through the University of

Nebraska's online high school (she took I & II last year). She also

has a weekly French tutor come to the house to read and speak with her

(last year and this year). Her tutor was really amazed at the level

she'd achieved using the following stuff.

 

We started with The Learnables (http://www.learnables.com). Each level

has 2 parts: the traditional Learnables and Basic Structures. In the

traditional Learnables part, you listen to a tape (only in the

to-be-learned language) and look at pictures. Each lesson has 100

pictures. You're supposed to listen to each lesson several times (I

think we settled on 4 times). After every even numbered lesson,

there's a little multiple-choice quiz (tape & pictures). If my dd

didn't make 80% on the quiz, she had to go back and repeat those

lessons. In Basic Structures, there's a tape and a book with pictures

& words. It concentrates mainly on reading, but there are some

fill-in-the-blank type writing exercises. In the Basic Structures

book, each "lesson" is a whole unit with revisions (reviews where you

listen to the tape, look at the pictures, and read the words),

expansions (new learning where you listen to the tape, look at the

pictures, and read the words), and exercises (listen to the tape,

match the pictures with the words). We made my dd do the exercises by

reading first, then checking with the tape. My dd did 2 levels in the

Learnables. One of the best things about Learnables is that you can do

it in the car on the way to/from school or other activities. No

English is ever used in the books or tapes.

 

After that we started using Rosetta Stone software (we had the

homeschool edition, which is the regular adult edition with some extra

management stuff). We started at Level 1. Each lesson has 2 exercises

that can be experienced multiple ways:

(A) pictures/reading/listening,

(B) pictures/listening,

© pictures/reading,

(D) pictures/speaking, and

(E) pictures/writing.

Basically, for (A), (B), & © there are 4 pictures on your screen and

you click on the one that matches the word/phrase you see or hear.

They offer 3 modes: preview (where it tells you what the pictures

are), exercise (where you do the multiple choice thing), and test

(where it records your multiple choice score for posterity).

 

Rosetta Stone (at least the homeschool edition for French) comes with

a grammar lesson book written in English and an exercise book written

in French. We've gotten around the have-to-be-at-the-computer thing by

taking these books with us in the car on our busiest days. No English

is used in the software. http://www.rosettastone.com/

 

In addition, we've bought or borrowed French and/or French/English

bilingual books wherever we could find them. Barron has and I Can Read

French series with titles like

_I Want My Banana_, _Goodnight Everyone_, and _Hurry Up Molly_.

Usborne has several bilingual books, but I didn't like these as well

because the English and French are

so close together that it's hard to read one without seeing the other.

If your public library uses the Dewey Decimal system, check out the

400s. That's where the language books should be. I've ordered some

other French language books on Amazon. There are several

"from-English" books like some Eric Carle and some Beatrix Potter. We

bought old textbooks at library book sales -- conversational French

texts worked best here.

 

We went on "French" vacations to Paris and Quebec (and bought books

while we were there).

 

We'll watch familiar movies in French. Most DVDs have multiple

language tracks, we just choose French. You can opt for English

subtitles by turning on closed captioning.

 

My mother-in-law also bought a book & tape set called _Getting to Know

France and French_ that my dd enjoyed (mostly English, some French)

and got her the French Language Littles doll. The doll has sound chips

in each hand and in her leg. She says the numbers, colors, days of the

week, "I love you", "My name is Jolie", and several other things. The

dolls are available at Amazon and through the Asia for Kids

http://www.asiaforkids.com) catalog.

 

When she was little, my dd played with Jumpstart Languages, which is

pretty basic, but it does do colors and a few other things like that.

 

The American Association of Teachers of French has a language contest

(Le Grand Concours) each year. I bought some of the practice tests to

use at home to gauge what my dd was learning or not learning compared

to what is typical of elementary students. However, you'll have to

learn along with her in order to mark the practice exams.

http://www.frenchteachers.org. She's also taken the actual exam.

 

Teachers Discovery has a catalog of learning materials for French,

Spanish, and German. It's aimed at school teachers, but there are

still lots of neat things for use at home.

http://www.teachersdiscovery.com/. I also have catalogs from Applause

(http://www.applauselearning.com/) and Carlex

(http://www.carlexonline.com/intro.asp)

 

At http://www.transparent.com, you'll find a new vocabulary word a day

in French and several other languages. You can read the word and hear

it pronounced, as well as see and hear it in a sentence. They have the

old word-of-the-day lists available for download into their (free)

Vocabulary Master program or you can play with it online.

 

Bookstores specializing in French or bilingual books:

http://www.bilingual-supplies.co.uk/

http://www.schoenhofs.com/

http://www.worldlanguage.com/

http://www.aimsbooks.com/

 

Online resources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/languages/

http://www.1stop-language.com/

http://www.ignitethefire.com/foreignlang.html

 

We tried the Lyric Language audio tapes. They were okay for the week

we had them checked out from the library, but we were glad we didn't

buy them. They use some Family Circus comic strip characters. They

alternate English & French. We still sing their version of the French

alphabet.

 

We will sometimes just practice conversation. This is a great car

thing. It usually ends by my dd making up completely silly statements

(intentionally) and us laughing a lot.

 

My dd has twice attended a 2 week French immersion camp this summer at Concordia

Language camps in Minnesota. This summer, she'll go to the high school

4 week high-school credit course. They also offer 1 week sessions.

 

There are various magazines available for students of French at

various levels. My dd is getting Jeune. She's only gotten one issue

and we've had trouble with the process (the magazine never arrived and

they had to resend it). So, there's a mixed review there. There are

others, though, that I can provide a list of.

 

What haven't we tried that I know of?

* PowerGlide (mixes English & French together)

* Pimsleur audio tapes (we're using that for Japanese)

* Muzzy (expensive video tapes. Some people have found them in their library)

* Alliance Francaise (the nearest is 1.5-2 hours away)

* Hosting an Exchange Student

* College Student who is a native French speaker

* Language exchange through http://www.mylanguageexchange.com/

* Gaston books from http://www.mep-eli.com/

* French in Action series (TV or streaming video)

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Well, I may be kidding myself here, but I think *I* made it to fluency. In English, that is.. I failed ESL in school, from grade 3 to grade 9. I needed private tutoring to barely pass the year. In grade 9, I decided on my own to start reading Lord of the Rings in English. I had read it aplenty in French (at least 7 times) so I figured I could go through a whole chapter without understanding a thing and it wouldn't matter much. Anyway, here I am now.

 

My kids are raised in French. Their outside activities are either in French or English. Mostly in French for my daughter, and English for my son, it's just the way it turned out to be.

 

DS -10- does half his schooling in French and half in English. He's getting a good bilingual education at home. DD -7- is not quite ready yet but she's reading in both languages already. So give her 3 years, and she'll be getting the same education.

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We are always looking at languages from the other end. I would like to hear more how you've taught English. Do you speak to your children in English? Did you start with a program of any sort? Basically, how did your children begin reading in English?

 

 

Thanks,

 

Kimberly

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Just curious, what's code-switching?

 

Thanks for sharing,

 

Kimberly

 

Code-switching or code-shifting is a linguistic situation where the speaker switches from one language to another (and perhaps back again). For example, you might be discussing what to do with a piece of trash and use the German word Restmuell to indicate the bits and pieces that don't have a recycling destination (paper, packaging or glass).

 

Sometimes it is because a particular word fits the sentence best, sometimes it is because the speaker only has experience in that topic in a certain language, sometimes it is because the listener is more proficient in one language or the speaker uses a particular language when they are more emotional (like my one son who liked to chew out his brothers in German).

 

A lovely example of this is in Shining Through where Melanie Griffith is describing arriving in Germany and meeting her underground contact. The interviewer stops her and say, "Do you realize that you're speaking in German?" She looks at him and replies, "Well, that's how I remember it happening."

 

When we were living in Germany, I had so many discussions about homeschooling at dinners and receptions that I found that when I was discussing homeschooling with other Americans I was mentally translating it from my standard German script for that conversation.

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I have never spoken English to my kids. I just couldn't do it. We didn't go the OPOL way (one language one parent). My Dh's English isn't as good as mine, and his French is very local quebecois, while my French is much stronger than his. So whatever mix we would have done, it wasn't going to work.

So we're strictly a French speaking family.

 

We are, however, in a weird situation. At the country level, we're a minority language. In the provincial level, we're majority. At the city level, we're still majority, but funnily enough, at the neighbourhood level, we're back to minority. In other words, many of our neighbours are English speakers, and many local activities are in English. If we drive a little further, we're back in French-land. And within this English enclave, most English schools do French immersion in primary school. And that is total immersion. So everyone in my neck of the wood is bilingual, except the homeschoolers who tend to stick to English-only.

 

So we sent the kids to cubs, and sparks. We go to the local pool activities in the summer - that's all English. That's how the kids pick it up. From the get-go we avoided ESL books. Right in grade 1, they were reading whole-words books. The whole word approach is great for ESL ;-) The words come back often, in different contexts, and the child learns it quickly. We did no phonics whatsoever. Reading was acquired in French, with the syllabic approach, and once you're a reader, you can read anything with the same alphabet. The main problem is learning new words, not deciphering them.

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Thank you everyone for the replies. It is obvious that this is possible to obtain. My level of fluency that I was asking about was just being able to carry on short conversations, read simple books, and understand or be capable of figuring out most of the common vocabulary. We live in a farming/ranching community where a lot of the workers speak Spanish only. I can understand the basics of what they are saying when we converse but I would like my children (and myself) to understand more than that. I have heard before that the spanish taught isn't the same as the spoken spanish around here. Does anyone know if that is true?

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