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Focusing on foreign language with young DC…plus improving your own…

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Japanese, specifically…but advice would be welcome from those who have done other languages.


I want to focus more on providing my 4 y/o DS with a strong base for Japanese while it is still easier for him to absorb the language. Our priorities will be the 3Rs in English and Japanese (with all else being extra). I do have experience with the language (2 years in high school and 3 in college), but at this point I am very rusty and nowhere near fluent enough to provide an immersion environment. Nor can I afford to pay a tutor. My plan is to do something like this:


1) Daily children’s song from Sing ‘n Learn Japanese

2) Daily read aloud picture book in Japanese

3) Daily Let’s Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary page of DSs choice

4) Daily Little Pim Japanese alternating between watching DVD and doing a lesson

5) Watching children’s programming or movie in Japanese and listening to Japanese music (daily?)

6) Labeling household objects in Japanese


I am also planning to work on regaining/improving my own Japanese using the Genki Textbooks, workbooks, CDs, and various other resources.


Thoughts? Suggestions? Any favorite resources for teaching/learning Japanese?


Thanks :001_smile:

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My oldest is around the same age, and we have a heavy French focus in our house. We are doing a bit of work in French based on CNED's materials, including some Math work that we have already covered in English. I believe the first year of French schools starts a year later, but we're going to give it a try. At this level most of what we are doing is transferring what we've already learned from English to French.


Almost everything the kids watch on the television (DVDs) is in French, but that's only a few hours a week right now. We really liked Little Pim. We've listened to a few different music programs, and I play youtube videos with songs in French.


I sing some of those songs aloud during the day here and there with my children, just like we sing ABCs and nursery rhymes and lullabies. I read aloud in French most days, and my oldest is starting to learn to read in French. She's already a competent reader in English, or else I'd be waiting on that for a few more years. I don't know enough (anything!) about teaching a language with different characters and how I would work that in with English reading.


I use a lot of short simple phrases around the house saying what things are or asking questions. (Do you want a spoon or a fork? The stove is hot. Where is the book?) We do have a picture dictionary in French. Expanding vocabulary is one of our major goals for this year, especially being able to use it instead of just recognizing it when spoken. I'm hoping our lessons in French will help with that too. I'd really love to have a native speaker here once a week or so, and it was almost a possibility. Unfortunately, instead of moving where we had anticipated (closer to Canada, also closer to the university I attended with a large international population), we have moved to the middle of rural Ohio. Our options here are more limited.


I'll come out and say that what we are doing is somewhere between overly ambitious and crazy. :D We have a little more leeway on time spent working in English because we're a bit ahead there at the moment. Even with that, I'm not sure how much I'll have tossed by midyear.


I'm not a native speaker, and I wouldn't call myself fluent. I can easily read or watch the news, but I'd have a tough time talking about recent news. I worry that I'm going to screw things up terribly, which is why I would like to have someone available to talk with the whole family on a regular basis. Then I look at our goals. A year ago, my goal was to expose my children to the idea that there are other languages and maybe teach them to count to 10. My children threw that out pretty quickly. :lol:


I've since decided that if my children can read simple books written for children at the end of elementary school, they will be beyond most of the people I graduated high school with. I'd like for us to be able to do some high school work in French, if only literature. I don't expect the kind of balanced bilingualism some of the parents here have achieved. Plus, even if I screw up, I can take comfort in the fact that I'm not closing doors to my children that would otherwise be open.


I don't know how much of that was useful, but I think this is one of the most exciting things we are doing right now in our home. I love it!

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I don't know how much of that was useful, but I think this is one of the most exciting things we are doing right now in our home. I love it!


Thank you so much for responding. I LOVE what you are doing! This is very similar to what I want to do and what I would like to achieve in the long term. It does seem very ambitious and I also have questions about my ability to pull it off, but I think the effort would be worth it. I always wish my parents had given me more consistent exposure to the language when I was young so I want to provide that for my DS (especially since he's actually interested). Out of curiosity, how much time do you think you spend on formal-ish language instruction and how much on more informal language learning?

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I'd guess we spend about 20 minutes a day on actual lesson materials, but we're going pretty slowly right now because I'm explaining every single thing on each sheet. I also probably do an additional 10 minutes on vocabulary that I know my daughter doesn't have that a lesson requires, if the lesson's focus isn't learning those words. (Did that make sense? I wouldn't teach the word for triangle if the lesson was about what a triangle is, but I would teach it if you needed to draw triangles on a picture.)


I have absolutely no idea how much time I spend on other things. If we watch anything it's probably an hour of dedicated informal time that day. Otherwise maybe half an hour of dedicated time? That's not counting all the little singing and questions during our day though, that's just watching, reading, or maybe crafts. I just throw the other stuff in when I'm thinking about it.


Those times are mostly a guess, since it changes every day. :001_smile:

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At first, it seemed like a lot, but actually you'd only be spending maybe 15 minutes (not including Little Pim) total on Japanese stuff, right? 15 minutes sounds about right...obviously depending on on the song/book/dictionary page combination etc. That's not counting Little Pim (30 minutes), watching children's programming (15-20 minutes?), or listening to music (in the background).


My DS (1/2007) has seemed to find his sweet spot at about 15-20 minutes a day per language. However, he picks things up super fast...probably because it's so easy for him at this age. Right now, he is reading easily in Hebrew (though comprehension is 0% because we haven't done much vocab! :)) but it seriously surprised me at how quickly he is picking it up (along with Korean). Wow! I'm impressed you are doing two languages. I'm looking at Latin for next year maybe...depending on how this year goes. DS's attention span for any one thing is fairly short, but in general he can stick with one subject for awhile as long as I give him lots of different kinds of activities (hence the song, book, etc.). When did you start teaching your DS to read Hebrew? I was planning to wait on formal introduction to reading Japanese until DS is reading in English more fluently and until then just include things like alphabet books.


However, I've realized that once he finishes the workbooks he has, there is nothing but to start with grammar points and the nitty-gritty...which he will absolutely not be ready for at 6 years old. So it's kind of put me in an awkward position.


I would suggest looking at what workbooks/lessons there are after you finish the Little Pim and then after you finish the next ones, and so on...What the natural progression you would like the lessons to take. And then see about what age that lines up with. You may find that it will be easier for you later on to just do exposure right now (picture books, music, talking to him, etc) but no actual lessons for a year or so. Oh, good point! I had originally planned to use Rosetta Stone starting in first or so, but I've basically abandoned that plan since it doesn't have the best reputation for Japanese. The options for early elementary Japanese are pretty limited at best. Note to self: more research needed...


I dunno, just my $.02 :)


(Oh, also, love the idea of the household labels! We have about 200 in all 3 languages around the house, and it's really good for incorporating into lessons and easy vocab learning :) My hope is that seeing the little labels will remind me to use the vocabulary with DS :tongue_smilie:

Thanks for the thoughts :001_smile:

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