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Logistics of adding a 2nd langauge


Gil
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On 12/17/2019 at 3:41 PM, Homebody2 said:

I've been so inspired by this thread! We've decided to drop Latin and grammar for the next 6 months at least and set some goals for learning our preferred languages. 11yr old is learning French and 13yr old is learning German. I'm refreshing my Spanish. 

Both boys are excited to read in their languages, so I've started looking for resources to support this. It's harder than you think!

Any suggestions for places to find easy articles about basic science concepts in French or German? I'd love to find a simple encyclopedia written in each language.

I've found many free older German and French children's books online. We love history, so it might be fun to read one and discuss it within the context of the time periods. I've found some kid's websites in both languages, each about specific topics my boys are interested in.

Also, both boys really enjoyed the layout of Getting Started With Latin. Any suggestions for a similar intro program for French or German?

 

 

Yes, Getting Started With French is a good starting point if you liked Getting Started with Latin.  

I don't know of any resources for French encyclopedias for language learners.  I can recommend the following for French speakers, which are at a low-ish grade level but still definitely a French-as-first-language resource:

- Petits Lecons des Choses If you click on the button "feuilleter", you can look through the inside.  

Encyclopedie des Sciences - very similar in style and level to an Usborne encyclopedia  

Histoire du Monde en BD world history in comic strip form

 

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  • 2 months later...

It seems like Pal is going through a linguistic growth spurt and it's very interesting to watch. Pal is not as wordy or verbose as his brother. He doesn't write stories and poems like Buddy. He definitely isn't as talkative as Buddy either, so it's easy to over look his language skills. But I've been observing him more closely these last few weeks and he definitely seems to be getting steadily stronger/better in Spanish than he has been.

He's working on reading longer, more complex books in Spanish now that I've gotten some high-interest reads for him. He has not yet left behind the picky-reader phase which is a little disappointing, but I got him 2 fantasy trilogies that he really likes in Spanish and he's working on those without complaint.

Pals "unlocked" a lot of Spanish word-patterns and so his active and receptive vocabulary has definitely ballooned.

It's very interesting and gratifying to see how much vocabulary and content knowledge Pal has retained from our on going study of the encyclopedia. As we're reading and discussing a lot of history in Spanish, there are a lot of words and stories that have been latent in his memory that are getting "activated".
We have a couple of Spanish language joke books, and when he reads them to himself, he laughs or snickers quite a bit.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pal wrote a story. In Spanish. Of his own volition.

It's a short story, but still a BIG deal.
If you'd told me 6 weeks ago that Pal would write a story in his secondary language this year, I'd have told you that you didn't know my kid very well. But I forget that kids can be changing and transforming every week or that sometimes, your child wakes up a completely different person than who they've been for the last several months or years.

Sometimes it's like they go to bed and then BAM Update Complete. Please restart the machine. They wake up newly capable of things. So neat.

I'll try and write a better update on their language studies soon.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Since we've been working our way through the home library for over a year now, we are low on untapped secondary language books 😦...

Unfortunately, the majority of the books that we own have been read in-depth and repeated. So if this outbreak continues more than a month, I'm not sure what we'll do for reading material.

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  • 1 month later...

Language Update:

Japanese:  I've disallowed "deep media immersion" (aka binge-watching Anime) during the COVID quarantine and as a result, Japanese exposure has slowed down. They do watch a couple of episodes each day and they keep a Japanese Journal where they jot down sentences or vocabulary that's new or useful to them. They've continued with Japanese literacy and they're making good progress with the Kanji.

They've taken to speaking Japanese here and there so that I don't know what they're saying.  I just encourage them to check each others grammar so that they don't reinforce each others mistakes.

I'm going to invest in online-language mentor and language-exchange practice for them because we need something to breathe fresh energy into their Japanese trek. It is very hard for me to gauge just how much Japanese they're retaining vs losing because I don't speak Japanese. But it'd really, really, suck for them to lose too much ground.

Spanish: Because we're home All.The.Time we've been getting an abundance of Spanish time in. This is when having a home-library of Spanish language media has paid big dividends. It's very easy to spend a lot of time in Spanish each day when their card games, books, video games, music, board games, movies and meal times are all in Spanish.

Pal seems to have caught a writing bug. He's started writing a lot of stories and they seem to always be in Spanish. It's a little weird to me that his stories are almost always in Spanish yet his his essays/notes are mix of Spanish, Spanglish and English. (I forbid Spanglish in all academic writing, but when he's writing for himself, he often writes in Spanglish.) I hypothesize that he writes stories mostly in Spanish because for the last 6 or 7 years, Spanish has been the language of imaginative-entertainment. But it's only a theory, and it doesn't stand up well to the fact that Buddy, our resident writer, writes all the time and he writes in English and Spanish. Because he does a lot of fanfiction, he's writing more Spanish these days, but he writes tons in English.

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16 hours ago, Gil2.0 said:

I'm going to invest in online-language mentor and language-exchange practice for them because we need something to breathe fresh energy into their Japanese trek.

Which online mentor program are you going with? I've been thinking about going this route for German.

Thanks for your updates! 

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1 hour ago, Homebody2 said:

Which online mentor program are you going with? I've been thinking about going this route for German.

Thanks for your updates! 

I'm not sure yet. I know we're not going with an app such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. I'm looking to hire a person for X hours of language mentoring each week. I'm planning to pay up some $$$ and get some Native teacher who can do both 1-1 and 1-2 sessions so that each of The Boys can get some individual attention, but still benefit from some shared instruction with his brother.

It's not my preference, but at this point language mentor/teacher with private lessons customized to them is just the route I feel that we need to take for Japanese to keep them progressing and prevent their Japanese from getting brittle or decaying. I'm not usually eager to outsource but I'm going to have to do things differently for Japanese because I have no way of effectively coaching or supporting them in Japanese since they're no longer working through finite and sequential resources that I can understand structurally if not linguistically.

On the flip side:: How are your families language-treks going? Does your kids approaches to language differ? How is your own endeavor for Spanish going?

Feel free to share an update of your own families language treks.

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  • 1 year later...

Putt-putt-putting along.

Spanish is like a cinder block--it's not smooth, but it's rock-solid and perfectly suited for a foundation.
They can converse, read (above grade level) and even write in Spanish. They do a healthy portion of their regular studies in Spanish. It's been a long time, and in a way it's kinda disappointing that it's not "perfect"--there are still gaping holes in their Spanish language, (hence the Cinder block) but I consider their Spanish to be quite good considering the resources we have available to us.

 

Japanese is currently being run by a private tutor. My stipulation was that I want a 3:1 ratio of conversation-literacy focus with the tutor, so they speak and converse every class. They are now using a textbook and working through under the tutors guidance. Money well spent, in my opinion. I check their notebooks, quiz them and give them small assignments--say this, explain that, read this book, but for the most part it seems that they're making good progress.

 

German:
We're doing 1 year of German starting this July. It's very likely that German is going to be a short-term, 1 year type thing rather than a multi-year project, but we're going to play with German a bit.

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I just took my final for a Spanish Gale Ed2Go class that I took through my library. I got a 100%, but when I grocery shop, I can only pick up what is on the shelves and cannot use the deli or bakery. And I cannot discuss the most critical things happening with my neighbors.

I never understood how someone could live in a community and not learn the language, even if they were taking classes. Maybe this first hand knowledge is more important for me to learn than Spanish, since I have no plans to stay here after the pandemic.

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  • 2 months later...

German (Aleman)
So far, we've been very slow and steady--our victory is that we've maintained consistency.
We've focused a lot of  audio resources to try and front load some German sounds. We've managed to watch a couple of German movies, but only in about 10 minute increments. Again, our victory is the consistency.

We've just started learning a bit about German verbs. We're just going to keep on, keeping on. Right now, the most important thing is remaining consistent.

 

Japanese
Their tutor is running this course. They're able to converse, watch anime and are improving in reading. I had them do a few online language practices with native speaker and they and have consistently been complimented for good accent and receptive language skills. They're still working through a textbook with the tutor.

 

Spanish
They have a couple Spanish-language friendships and that helps to reward them for years of having worked very hard to learn and develop their Spanish. They're in a space where they  voluntarily do a lot of creative writing in Spanish, which is great. A significant portion of their academic work is in Spanish. The real prize is that they speak Spanish around the house a lot.

**********

Of course, there is no telling what COVID will have changed by the time it's all over, but I do hope that they're able to travel and will be able to take greater advantage of oppurtunties for having learned languages as a part of their basic education.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 5/29/2021 at 1:39 PM, Hunter said:

I just took my final for a Spanish Gale Ed2Go class that I took through my library. I got a 100%, but when I grocery shop, I can only pick up what is on the shelves and cannot use the deli or bakery. And I cannot discuss the most critical things happening with my neighbors.

I never understood how someone could live in a community and not learn the language, even if they were taking classes. Maybe this first hand knowledge is more important for me to learn than Spanish, since I have no plans to stay here after the pandemic.

I remember taking Spanish classes in college, then a year later meeting my husband and only remembering how to conjugate verbs - but couldn't remember any verbs 😂... Most of what I've learned has just been first-hand in the community. Then, when learning in formal academics, the academics and grammar made more sense because I had a peg to hang that info on since I'd already been using it in real life.

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On 8/16/2021 at 9:07 PM, Gil said:

German (Aleman)
So far, we've been very slow and steady--our victory is that we've maintained consistency.
We've focused a lot of  audio resources to try and front load some German sounds. We've managed to watch a couple of German movies, but only in about 10 minute increments. Again, our victory is the consistency.

We've just started learning a bit about German verbs. We're just going to keep on, keeping on. Right now, the most important thing is remaining consistent.

 

Japanese
Their tutor is running this course. They're able to converse, watch anime and are improving in reading. I had them do a few online language practices with native speaker and they and have consistently been complimented for good accent and receptive language skills. They're still working through a textbook with the tutor.

 

Spanish
They have a couple Spanish-language friendships and that helps to reward them for years of having worked very hard to learn and develop their Spanish. They're in a space where they  voluntarily do a lot of creative writing in Spanish, which is great. A significant portion of their academic work is in Spanish. The real prize is that they speak Spanish around the house a lot.

**********

Of course, there is no telling what COVID will have changed by the time it's all over, but I do hope that they're able to travel and will be able to take greater advantage of oppurtunties for having learned languages as a part of their basic education.

 

 

 

 

 

Glad to see you still updating. I haven't updated in a while either. This is my latest blog post, but I've made changes since: https://creativeplaybilingual.blogspot.com/2021/07/big-ambitions-trilingual-education.html

Spanish

Most of the changes I am making will be in Spanish, although this is not an added language but a native one. It is somewhat integrated already, but I was planning on using more textbooks this year to make it easier for ME. I'm still teaching Spanish to other kids as well. I'm still working it out, but have decided to cut back on the pre-made texts and use just one, adjusting it to our needs. I mean, I DO write books for other people to use. I need to write what my daughter needs (she's dyslexic, just like her older sister). She will also be attending one of my classes, which will cover language arts and writing. She is still allergic to a pencil, but will do speech-to-text...

 

Chinese

Our daily consistent exposure is Mandarin Morning. I'm working on integrating more of the new vocabulary and conversation she is learning.

We're still figuring out which Chinese classes she will be taking. She likes the Singapore math classes (1-2x weekly), Lingobus (1x), and a social group she's in (1x). She tried a beginning reading class this morning, and she said she likes that too.  

I put her in the local  weekend Chinese school which is doing everything online this semester. She says she doesn't like it because the class is too long. It really is. It is 1.5 hours with a 5-10 minute break in the middle. The other kids are native speakers between 5-8 years old, and she's 10. All the kids are antsy by the end. I do the homework with her because I'm learning too, but the pinyin (oral) homework I am going to need to either get a live tutor (italki) for her or just record her and send to the teacher. I'd prefer a live tutor for on-the-spot corrections.

I can't afford to have her in a bunch of classes. And that is really too much going on with different vocabulary and accents at once to learn each week. I only have about 30 more Lingobus classes. Whether I buy more will depend on if I still get the VIPKid teacher discount, considering all that's happening in China right  now (changes in regulating supplemental education). 

Anyway, I need to balance what she needs and what she likes/wants, to keep the motivation up.

 

German

Not starting yet, until Chinese is established academically in the homeschool. This is a language we started when she was little, but stopped. At first, she said she didn't want to add it back in, but now says she does. I'm going to wait on it. The most I'll do is a wake up routine with her, but I have to relearn what to say, and that isn't happening for a while. So, I usually don't even mention it since it's on the backburner, but it is always in mind.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Heading in to Highschool, I have to say that Japanese is a bit of a worry for me. The goal is to become fluent in Japanese Conversation and Literacy by the time that they graduate.

They'll be aiming to take and obtain Bilingual Professional Certification from the ACTFL in all domains by the time that they graduate so that they can add a professional certification to their resumes.

Their tutor and I are planning to have them take the JLPT a few times during highschool to have something concrete to aim towards and plan from.

Japanese is worrisome because it's something that I can't quality check very easily and I do not trust other peoples educational standards by default. But by the end of Highschool, I want them to read and write like educated young adults.

 

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On 10/23/2021 at 1:48 PM, Gil said:

Heading in to Highschool, I have to say that Japanese is a bit of a worry for me. The goal is to become fluent in Japanese Conversation and Literacy by the time that they graduate.

They'll be aiming to take and obtain Bilingual Professional Certification from the ACTFL in all domains by the time that they graduate so that they can add a professional certification to their resumes.

Their tutor and I are planning to have them take the JLPT a few times during highschool to have something concrete to aim towards and plan from.

Japanese is worrisome because it's something that I can't quality check very easily and I do not trust other peoples educational standards by default. But by the end of Highschool, I want them to read and write like educated young adults.

 

Perhaps look into higher level Japanese texts to work through (like a subject, how you've done with Spanish) with the tutor (or a different tutor) to have more contextual Japanese. That is what a young native speaker would be receiving. 

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  • 5 months later...

We're still alive.

Spanish
We speak Spanish around the house a lot. The Boys can and do converse with native speakers from various countries on both random topics, as well as topics of interests to them. They read and write for school in Spanish. They learn new academic and hobby material in Spanish. They maintain friendships with monolingual Spanish speakers. They watch movies, shows, YouTubers in Spanish and speak with a really solid accents--they've had people surprised that they speak English at all. The mission is to not grow complacent and to maintain this level of capability in Spanish.

 

Japanese
They meet with a local Japanese language learners group in person every week for conversation and immersion practice. We're using 2 tutors--one for literacy stuff (reading and writing) and one for conversation (speaking and listening). They're always watching Japanese language media online--I have to limit them or they'd get nothing else done. We're just sticking to it inch by inch.
We keep Japanese audio playing most evenings and in the early AM.

 

German
Our greatest accomplishment: Consistency. We're sticking to our several minutes a day, making progress. The Boys have watched Avatar: Der Herr der Elemente all the way through. Conversation is our weakness as we don't have many opportunities to speak German. Our reading and listening is better. We've covered a good bit of grammar and can read ok. The trial year is almost over. I'm going to take a break after the year and then decide what to do.

I've thought about giving up German many times throughout the year, but have decided against it. I am trying to teach myself and my kids that quitting isn't something that should be done lightly. We've made some progress in German, but we aren't able to give it the fanatical focus that we typically give to something when starting out. It sucks to not progress as rapidly as we're used to, but we simply don't have the time to study 3 languages proficiently, given the resources that we have.

 

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7 hours ago, Slache said:

Thank you for listing everything I haven't done so that I can now do it.

😶

Two Notes of Caution:
1) I'm not a Japanese Speaker, linguist nor am an expert of anything besides getting things done for The Boys.
2) The Boys are not yet fluent speakers, so this is all one big experiment with no proven results just yet.

Essentially our Japanese path began with 1.5-2.5 years of developing aural and oral skills. Our reasoning was two-fold.

1) If you can't hear the language--the words, the particles, sentences, etc--then you'll never be able to converse. Period.
2) The Boys wanted to be able to converse in the language. They wanted to watch Anime in Japanese.

So, for better or worse, we focused on hearing (and mimicking) spoken language. Lots and lots of input, and staggered repetitions and practice mimicking. They re-learned Kana with precise pronunciations and started reading simple texts.

Because Japanese is Japanese, we had to tackle Kanji along the way (you can't just learn to read Japanese in a month like Spanish, German or any other alphabetic language). They used the Heisig books to learn the Kanji. It was kind of difficult to go from memorizing Kanji to using them, but I let a language mentor/tutor handle that part.

When they began attending Japanese Conversation groups, they had really strong conversation skills compared to the college kids that they practiced with. However, during the first 2 years, most of the other students had more advanced literacy skills. The Boys have been able to close the Japanese literacy gap with guidance from tutors/more experienced students followed up with daily study and regular practice.

Pimsleur, Beginning Japanese and News in Slow Japanese, were all great for early stage input and practice. We worked very carefully through Beginning Japanese that was our first priority. After getting a conversational foundation, they did Genki. They've been watching Anime in Japanese for the whole 4 years.

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10 hours ago, Gil said:

Two Notes of Caution:
1) I'm not a Japanese Speaker, linguist nor am an expert of anything besides getting things done for The Boys.
2) The Boys are not yet fluent speakers, so this is all one big experiment with no proven results just yet.

Essentially our Japanese path began with 1.5-2.5 years of developing aural and oral skills. Our reasoning was two-fold.

1) If you can't hear the language--the words, the particles, sentences, etc--then you'll never be able to converse. Period.
2) The Boys wanted to be able to converse in the language. They wanted to watch Anime in Japanese.

So, for better or worse, we focused on hearing (and mimicking) spoken language. Lots and lots of input, and staggered repetitions and practice mimicking. They re-learned Kana with precise pronunciations and started reading simple texts.

Because Japanese is Japanese, we had to tackle Kanji along the way (you can't just learn to read Japanese in a month like Spanish, German or any other alphabetic language). They used the Heisig books to learn the Kanji. It was kind of difficult to go from memorizing Kanji to using them, but I let a language mentor/tutor handle that part.

When they began attending Japanese Conversation groups, they had really strong conversation skills compared to the college kids that they practiced with. However, during the first 2 years, most of the other students had more advanced literacy skills. The Boys have been able to close the Japanese literacy gap with guidance from tutors/more experienced students followed up with daily study and regular practice.

Pimsleur, Beginning Japanese and News in Slow Japanese, were all great for early stage input and practice. We worked very carefully through Beginning Japanese that was our first priority. After getting a conversational foundation, they did Genki. They've been watching Anime in Japanese for the whole 4 years.

My Japanese plan is different than yours, but I want to mimic your bilingual lifestyle.

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Ok, I've got questions.

What are the basic steps that you took to teach your children Spanish?

How was their experience learning Japanese different from their experience learning Spanish?

Do you have any idea what sort of objective level your childrens' languages are at?

When did you decide to focus on a Language-Driven homeschool model?

How do you fit the other academics around their language learning?

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52 minutes ago, mathmarm said:

Ok, I've got questions.

What are the basic steps that you took to teach your children Spanish?

I spoke to my children in Spanish. I taught them phrases and sentences, then vocab to mix-and-match into the sentences. I emphasized and taught functional language to them.

They didn't need to introduce themselves to me, or tell about their family, so we didn't waste time with typical "Spanish 1" nonsense.

Quote

How was their experience learning Japanese different from their experience learning Spanish?

Mostly, I had some idea of what wasn't likely to work with re: Japanese do to some trial and error with Spanish. The improvements that I made with Spanish, were just applied to Japanese directly.

Also, they were older.  They had an informed opinion of what they were hoping to be able to accomplish. They had a strong idea of what it feels like to speak a minority language and that was a big source of motivation for them.

I knew to stagger literacy behind conversation.

Quote

Do you have any idea what sort of objective level your childrens' languages are at?

No.

They consume Spanish language media in real time, they converse with native speakers from a variety of countries. They participate in Spanish language social activities without missing a beat. They'd probably be required to take Spanish for Heritage Speakers at the local 4-year-college if they were to take Spanish at college.

They can hold their own with college students majoring in Japanese Language and Culture. They watch anime, listen to Music and chat online in Japanese. I've been told that their accents are really, really good.

Quote

When did you decide to focus on a Language-Driven homeschool model?

I would not say that we have a Language-Driven homeschool.

 

Quote

How do you fit the other academics around their language learning?

I don't fit anything around the language learning. They learn through Spanish, so it doesn't take any extra time. We read Spanish language books and outline them and study content just like we would with an English text.

As for the rest, we've always done our own thing when it comes to schedule and subjects. Our goal is not to study Japanese, but to develop and maintain Fluent Japanese. I simply schedule a block of time for Japanese and we (mostly) stick to it. We immerse in Japanese media when possible.

Focus and consistency. Day in and day out.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Japanese
We've entered our 4th year of Intensive Japanese. I realize that I don't document nearly enough of what The Boys do to develop Japanese, nor do I record what they can do.

To be blunt, it's hard to monitor their progress/abilities in Japanese as I do not read/write/speak or understand Japanese myself. So, the week that they integrate several new phrases/words into their speech, I'm unable to notice.

When they're not working from a concrete resource, then it's nigh on impossible for me to know exactly "what they're doing".

My biggest worry is that I do not want The Boys to study Japanese; the only acceptable outcome is that they learn Japanese well enough that they can functionally converse, read and write the language like an educated young adult.

To this end, I'm picky when it comes to published resources and have tried to use the most effective resources and materials that I can find. I do allow The Boys to find resources on their own and help them to set up their study schedules to make it through material in time.

Fortunately, now that we're 4 years into this endeavor, I can now share that there are some things that they are currently able to do. It's hard to tell that they're inching forward on the day-to-day level. However, when I look back at the month(s), seasons and years, I can see huge growth.

1) The Boys are conversant in Japanese.
--They have extended conversations about their hobbies with other Japanese speakers.
--The Boys use a cellphone to look up certain words in Japanese in real-time.
--They can make small-talk in Japanese
--The Boys can ask for clarification in Japanese, about something that they heard in Japanese when speaking to Japanese speakers.

2) According to The Boys, their active vocabulary is just over 6,000 words. The goal for this year is to grow their active vocabulary to at least 8000 words known fully and automatically.

3) The Boys are semi-literate in Japanese, and improving steadily.
--They've mastered their Kana, and for reading purposes, have grown beyond Kana picture books for literacy practice, but still benefit from the exposure to native grammar patterns and vocabulary
--The Boys are making good progress with learning and knowing Kanji and are going through a Kanji course with a tutor to steadily learn and improve their Kanji knowledge, and the ability to orally read.
--The goal is to automate their ability to accurately read/write 2500 Kanji by the end of 2024. They're confident that they can get there. They learn and exercise Kanji daily.

4) They can hear and aurally capture Japanese! I absolutely credit their early work and the fact that they've sustained listening to Japanese for 4 years. They continue to mimic Native Japanese audio and learn phrases using mimicry.

5) I'm constantly told that The Boys have amazing accents in Japanese.

6) It's Purging + Purchasing Season, so we're getting rid of materials that they've used and don't need any longer, and are looking to purchase some materials that they can get much use out of for the next couple of years.

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This is one reason I like a spine with a consistent progress of measurable study. For Spanish I use The Common Eropean Framework of Reference (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) and for Japanese I will use The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). Unfortunately, the JLPT is about knowledge of the language, not fluency, so I will also need to hire a tutor.

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6 hours ago, Slache said:

This is one reason I like a spine with a consistent progress of measurable study. For Spanish I use The Common Eropean Framework of Reference (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) and for Japanese I will use The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). Unfortunately, the JLPT is about knowledge of the language, not fluency, so I will also need to hire a tutor.

The JLPT doesn't align with their language goals for Japanese, so we don't prioritize around it. They wanted to be able to converse and consume Native media in real time. They'd like to travel to Japan and be independent in socializing and working/studying, so the #1 skill they need is conversation (so the subskills of listening comprehension, vocabulary, and speaking) are our priorities. Ideally, they'd like to be able to work for an international corporation in their early 20s and be eligible for international positions.

Once they achieve their goals for Japanese, they'll be likely to score well on the JLPT anyway, so no biggie.

I prefer (and now that they've experienced it, they also prefer) to push and prioritize Functional Language. Our work is always in learning not studying a language, so for us, CEFR and JLPT aren't really "spine-able".

Aside from the fact; we study/use American Spanish, and most of the Spanish speakers that we know and socialize with regularly are from Central and South America or the Islands.

 

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39 minutes ago, Gil said:

The JLPT doesn't align with their language goals for Japanese, so we don't prioritize around it. They wanted to be able to converse and consume Native media in real time. They'd like to travel to Japan and be independent in socializing and working/studying, so the #1 skill they need is conversation (so the subskills of listening comprehension, vocabulary, and speaking) are our priorities. Ideally, they'd like to be able to work for an international corporation in their early 20s and be eligible for international positions.

Once they achieve their goals for Japanese, they'll be likely to score well on the JLPT anyway, so no biggie.

I prefer (and now that they've experienced it, they also prefer) to push and prioritize Functional Language. Our work is always in learning not studying a language, so for us, CEFR and JLPT aren't really "spine-able".

Aside from the fact; we study/use American Spanish, and most of the Spanish speakers that we know and socialize with regularly are from Central and South America or the Islands.

 

See, I don't like this. I need something measurable so I know we're progressing. And even if the CERF or JLPT do not line up with my goals, it gives me a framework, and if I teach to that and supplement with native speakers and native materials, I think we'll get to where we want to be. Japanese is extremely foreign to me and I guess I need the comfort from the familiarity of the structure of teaching that way.

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  • 3 weeks later...

German
We've made it to the end of the trial year! Personally, I love learning German and I hate learning German. The end result from a years work is that we're all really proud of how much we've learned but none of us are particularly happy with the results. The minimal-approach is very frustrating. We're typically "all in, from jump" when it comes to learning something, so this doing a bit each day approach yields pretty small results.

In media, we can hear a lot better than in actual conversations. Our conversing level is abysmal and our accents are terrible. We can do all the basic grammary stuff that follows a pattern and we're getting better at the irregular grammary stuff that has no pattern.

When I'm trying to think of a German word, my brain constantly throws me the Spanish equivalent. It's annoying.

The Boys confer that the same thing happens to them, except it could be Japanese or Spanish that their brain serves up.

We wanted to do a year, and we've done a year. So we are taking a break from active study for the Summer--well, they are. They have a lot on their plates and I know that they can use the break. I'm intending to keep up the 10-30 minutes daily. I want to improve in the irregular bits of grammar and I need to increase my mimicking/shadowing media ten-fold. I'll be looking into finding a real life tutor to help me up my listening and conversation skills by a lot.

Frankly, I want them to both continue because Germany has free University to all comers and wouldn't it be great if they got to see a bigger part of the world and experience a new culture while getting their (advanced) degrees? But ultimately, I'm going to allow them to decide if they'll take on the obligation of a 3rd language or not.

Buddy says he's dropping German because he has a greater interest in maximizing Japanese and perfecting Spanish. Not what I want, but this is perfectly fair.

Pal thinks he's planning to continue because German is encouraged for PhD candidates. Since he can afford the slower progress rate he views it as a multi-year head start on his planned-future studies anyway.

I'm going to try and find a show to watch in German that's intriguing. It's hard for me to watch screens for long in any language. I have no idea how The Boys manage to sit through so much staring at a box.

Personally, I hope to go to Germany one day and would like to be able to function in the German environment, though I'm sure folks will speak English to me at every turn.

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  • 5 months later...

Japanese Making really good progress here. The Boys now use 2 tutors, one that focuses on Conversation (oral and aural) and one that focuses on Literacy (reading and writing). The Boys want to reach a high school level literacy by the time that they finish high school. Both of their regular tutors think that they're going to achieve that level. Currently, they are reading native children's novels in Japanese and discussing them in Japanese. They're also starting to write a lot more in Japanese. Outside of the work that they do with their tutors, they continue to attend Japanese Conversation groups locally with other people learning Japanese, chat online with Native speakers orally/aurally and listen to Japanese podcasts/videos. They're able to converse with a lot of confidence in their areas of interest.

Spanish The Boys are fluent in Spanish, but Native-level eludes them still. They can pick up a YA novel and read it, they can walk in to a conversation on a mixed-variety of topics and join it. They can ask for and understand clarification when needed. But they make mistakes. Their vocabulary has weird holes in it that they don't know about, until they learn about them. They can study from high school level materials in Spanish, but there is a gap--a chasm--between where they are now and the Native level Spanish that we wanted.

German Buddy no longer studies German, but Pal and I are trying to keep it up. Pal only actively studies on the weekends because of his schedule. On the weekends, he does up to 3 hours and we try to do 20 minutes of mimicry and conversation during the week.

Now, for some comments on the logistics of adding (maintaining progress in) a 2nd language.

Language learning is time-consuming. This is the main draw back. I am in awe of European, Asian and African school systems where students study 2+ languages to proficiency. I wish that I knew how they schedule and manage it. It's surprisingly difficult to find the specifics of how this scheduling is done and maintained.

Our system is not very efficient. Japanese takes 2-4 hours a day, depending on whether or not it's a tutoring day. I'm just not sure how to bring that time down and reliably keep it down. Spanish (which is the language of instruction for most of their regular home school classes)  takes 2-3 hours a day.

The opportunity cost is tremendous. If we didn't do languages to this level, we could do a lot more with IT or Natural Sciences. Some days I question if this is the best use of the time and money that we spend on it, but whenever I've checked in with them, The Boys want to continue working on their languages, but this year is proving especially difficult.

Japanese is starting to get expensive. The Boys are older now and want other things too. I'm not sure if we'll be able to sustain this level of investment for the next couple of years, but this year, in this season of our lives, we're making it work by sacrificing elsewhere and just being patient.

 

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54 minutes ago, Gil said:

I wish that I knew how they schedule and manage it.

Sometimes it's easier in those countries because multiple languages are spoken in those countries. When I ever so briefly went to school in Hong Kong it didn't take too much extra time to learn English and Chinese because you could hear and use it all the time in real life. There were a few adults in my life (family friends and my uncle) who were very fluent and just hold conversations with me in English. Also, we were closer to places who spoke other languages like the Philippines, Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, etc. So it wasn't difficult to have a brief vacation where you are completely immersed in a foreign language. 

 In the US I feel like I can only easily reach Mexico and Quebec for that kind of experience and that just covers 2 languages. 

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  • 6 months later...

So, for the first time in many years we're disrupting our Language learning routines.

1) They won't be doing Japanese Language Learning (aside from talking to each other) for a few months because of The Boys summer plans.

2) They're doing Spanish immersion then they'll be taking close to two months off of Spanish (aside from talking to each other).

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  • 1 month later...

So, it's back to the grind in a few days.

Spanish

Our family goal in Spanish is to grou-read two novels before New Years.

Las Cronicas del Narnia
La Ladrona del Libros
(with Audiobook Support) will be after that.

They're doing a Computer Repair course in Spanish so that'll helpfully boost that niche vocabulary.

Japanese

They're going to be reading a couple of short novels in Japanese so we'll see how that goes. They've made a huge push on literacy these last two years and have really made it their priority to be able to read and write in Japanese.

German

Pal decided that he's dropping German. He told me that he thinks we should've been more intense with German, because it gets really discouraging to stay at the same level for a long time.

I have to agree with him. The "light dabbling" stuff doesn't work for us. It's All In or nothing gets accomplished. To invest time and energy but to accomplish nothing is demoralizing and wasteful.

I'm going to take a break from German myself, but plan to return to German later.

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

Maintaining that many languages is really difficult and takes a lot of time.  My language loving dd dropped her 3rd language after a while bc it was just too much.   Not a big deal.  Mastery of 2 is still an accomplishment!

Thanks @8filltheheart! It's definitely an adventure.

We're pretty sure that last year was our last year of Spanish-language schooling and that we are done with the studying Spanish for Spanishs-sake.

Spanish will remain a home language of discussion, entertainment and use but we're at the point of diminishing returns when it comes to directly studying the language and even studying in the language, so we're going to switch focus from accumulating more and instead spend time intentionally honing what we've got.

Using online tests, their Spanish vocabulary has been estimated to be somewhere between 13,000 and 25,000 words depending on the test and the day that they take a vocabulary measuring test. Of course, that spread is large enough that its not very useful, but it supports my thinking that they know north of 10,000 words pretty fluently.

When immersed in Spanish, they can converse in real time on a wide variety of interests. They can speak with people from a number of Spanish countries/regions--though some accents are a lot more challenging than others.

So, our focus in Spanish is shifting away from language growth to language refinement and accent polishing. The year will be spent training up their accents so that they're consistently using the same rhythm and vocabulary and to help them stay "in region" when speaking and so that they grow more familiar with various accents so that they can capture naturally spoken Spanish more quickly when they meet someone.

Japanese will continue to be a language under direct study as they are still in the "learning by accumulating". This is another big year for literacy and exposure--They're going to be reading and discussing novels and the news as well as continuing to hone their conversational skills.
However, for Japanese, their vocabularies are significantly smaller. Guesstimates vary from 4000 to 7000 words and phrases known fluently.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Since reading how Foreign Language was taught/acquired to high levels in Soviet Russia during the 1960s. Some features of the Soviet Foreign Language system, as explained in the book What Ivan Knows that Johnny Doesn't include

  1. Beginning a FL in the 5th grade
  2. Use of a textbook that combines grammar with reading practice
  3. Giving attention to both pronunciation and conversation in the classroom
  4. Teach reading phonetically, then use the ability to read phonetically, to read controlled text.
  5. Continue this training until students have a
    • reading vocabulary of ~2500 words
    • mastery of grammar

Which is interesting to see the parallels between how we've handled foreign languages for The Boys.

We began Spanish in 1st grade, learned to read it phonetically and practiced reading until they could "read" with oral fluency. Spanish was learned through more explicit study of functional language and less systematically--it was very time consuming and probably not very efficient the way that we learned Spanish--however, it did work.

However, with Japanese we actually did something quite close to what's reported as being the Soviet Model, without knowing it.

1) They began Japanese in the 5th grade

2) They used a textbook that was grammar-pattern drive 

3) They invested a lot of time and energy into pronunciation and conversation practice from jump

4) They learned to read phonetically (both kana systems) and now are able to read/use Kanji a lot more fluently.

5) They've continued this training for years and The Boys now have a vocabulary numbering into the 1000s.

It was  fascinating to see that, through a bit of trial and error, we stumbled upon a "proven" method for FL, where as many thousands of professionals haven't.

I've been rethinking some things about how to shape foreign language instruction going forward, so this has given me much to think about.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Soon, I will turn my academic energy towards my younger children.
The Youngsters Language Plan so far is pretty scarce, but the basics are that they will

  • be raised and educated bilingually from birth
  • begin to learn a modern language (likely German) at ~6yos and continue into adulthood

Amiga (2yo) is bilingual. She speaks, understands and converses in Spanish and English.

Spanish
I think her Spanish is a little stronger because she hears it at a higher ratio because me and The Boys speak Spanish to each other and with her. She is speaking phrases with up to 4 words pretty meaningfully lately so hopefully full coherency will be achieved within 6 months.

English
In English, she's consistently at the 2-3 word utterances, but she seems to comprehend equally sophisticated speech in English, which I didn't expect from her.

Japanese
She babbles a couple of psuedo words in Japanese and knows a handful of basic items in Japanese from The Boys. There's no parental intention to teach Japanese to her in a lasting way. I don't foresee her developing aural or oral fluency in Japanese nor do we have any intention of promoting or sustaining the language beyond toddlerhood.

Interestingly, aside from cognates she doesn't seem to mix her languages much.

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  • 1 month later...

So, Amiga (2yo) has sorted out who, according to her, has which language. Interestingly enough, she had a pretty strong opinion about who in the family has which languages.

She was quiet miffed to hear her mom trying to speak Spanish and insisted that its not hers.

Which was interesting. Amiga has not yet revealed that she has a problem with me or The Boys speaking English and Spanish, but she shut Mrs. Gil down quick when Mrs. Gil was speaking Spanish.

I don't know if because her mom speaks poorly, or what.

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28 minutes ago, Gil said:

Which was interesting. Amiga has not yet revealed that she has a problem with me or The Boys speaking English and Spanish, but she shut Mrs. Gil down quick when Mrs. Gil was speaking Spanish.

When I was in high school when one of my relatives asked me if I could just start speaking in English to her so she could practice English. I couldn't do it. My brain could not converse with her in English because it's not her language. 

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Spanish

Pal is finally reading longer works in Spanish without fanfare. For NaNoWriMo, both of The Boys are writing in Spanish.

Pal's writing a lot of short (3-5 page) stories in. He's translating a book that he liked into Spanish which is surprisingly difficult for him. He might've bitten off more than he can comfortably chew, but I'm not going to say anything to discourage him. Buddy wants to write a short film in Spanish, so we'll see how that goes.

The Boys have loved the Computer Courses and have expressed a desire to take more varied classes in Spanish (yeah, I'll get right on that :🙄) to round out their vocabularies and language abilities.

A friend of mine has hired them as Seasonal Workers in his Mexican restaurant for a couple of months so they're learning to 1-speak/understand a lot of kitchen/restaurant vocabulary, 2-also getting a glimpse of how to make authentic Mexican food and 3-earning a bit of pocket money.

Japanese

They've been reading every day. They've been reading some short novels with their literacy tutor and are also writing better. Their early papers were full of redmarkings and corrections, now they get a few red marks on each paper.

They want to take some technology and culinary courses in Japanese, but we can't afford it on top of their literacy tutor. I want them to truly master their Japanese fundamentals and it's important to me that they're actually literate and fluent at the conversational level. They are at the point where they can read/write in Japanese probably at a middle school level--depending on the subject/familiarity with the topic.

Video Games: They've begun religiously playing a couple of games in Japanese and are having to look up less and less each week, I'm not a huge fan of this though because it sets a bad example for Round 2 and I requested that they not play Video Games for long stretches of time around Amiga because she wants to do everything that they do.

So, being clever Buddy and Pal actually took the initiative of setting a timer to go off in 3-5 minutes whenever Amiga is around and they modeled putting the game away when the timer goes off. So after a week or two Amiga will willingly turn off a screen when the timer goes off without a fuss or fight.

:laugh: Nice.

German

HAHAHAHA! The most neglected language in the family.  

I still want to learn it, but I don't have the energy for long term dabbling, but Round 2 will learn German when they're old enough to.

Round 2's language plan is

SPN/ENG from birth - 3.5

Seriously start bilingual academics at 3.5

At 1st grade (  6yo) , introduce German as "foreign language" as a school subject.

At 5th grade (10yo), introduce the second "foreign language" as a school subject. There are competing ideas about what that language should be.

 

On 11/10/2023 at 5:33 PM, Clarita said:

When I was in high school when one of my relatives asked me if I could just start speaking in English to her so she could practice English. I couldn't do it. My brain could not converse with her in English because it's not her language. 


Really? Any idea why? Did you ever get over this? Anyone else know what this is?

Is it because Cousin didn't speak English or because you and Cousins relationship was very verbal already? Do you think you could have made the switch if Cousin could speak English fluently?

The families priority for Round 2 is advanced, bilingual, language skills by the age of 3.5 years old. The language priorities for Round 2 are

  1. understanding and use of prepositions,
  2. correct use of verb-tenses
  3. clear articulation/pronunciation
  4. 1500 Books by age 3.5

Amiga is on her way to achieve her language goals on time. (Fingers crossed).

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4 hours ago, Gil said:

Really? Any idea why? Did you ever get over this? Anyone else know what this is?

Is it because Cousin didn't speak English or because you and Cousins relationship was very verbal already? Do you think you could have made the switch if Cousin could speak English fluently?

It was my aunt. She did speak English but not fluently and we normally conversed in Chinese. No expert but if I were to say why it's probably the brain's way of making conversation with people more streamlined. (Really helpful when there is a lot of speakers speaking multiple languages and not always speaking their most fluent language.) I never got over it with my aunt, but other people I have. 

1) Maturity, understanding there is a reason for the other person to want me to speak to them in another language (aside from just wanting to test me). In high school, I did understand, so I could have gotten over it, but it didn't end up happening because of number 2.

2) The people whom I've gotten over speaking to them in "not their language" are the people where we began speaking to each other in the other language more often. Then the brain can make the connection at some point this person speaks these languages this is what I can expect.   

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