Jump to content

Menu

Introducing (grammar) cases


Recommended Posts

49 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Imagine the little drawings of Barbie and Ken talking.

Ken is a book. (haha)

Ken is reading a book.

Ken is on the book. (in front of, under, etc.)

Hold it, are you saying YOU don't know what in the world cases are??? LOL 

So yes, http://masterrussian.com/aa071600a.shtml  here's a link to get you some basic understanding. I had been told most kids were drilled by their grandmas to make sure their grammar was solid, hahaha. I just assumed someone had done that to you. 

I know what cases are in the sense that I can use them basically perfectly. And I’m sure I had lessons in them as a kid, but like a lot of lessons out of context, they didn’t really stick. So I’d be able to tell you when to use which case, but I don’t have a good explanation for WHY.

I think this is very common with native speakers. Like, in English, it’s not that easy to explain when to use “a,” when to use “the,” and when to use no articles at all. There are basic principles, but if one tries to apply them rigorously, one often gets things wrong. (I know this from having watched many older Russian speakers struggle with them.)

So I’m trying to think about how to explain this in a way that’s not rigorous but gives DD8 a feel. Like, I’m not currently FEELING the difference between going towards someone and reading someone a book... I’m having trouble articulating what it is that makes those different and how DD8 would need to think about it to figure it out. And I need clear criteria.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I can share the books my dd used.  She jumped into studying Russian after 3 yrs of Latin, though, and her foundation in grammar was very strong.  FWIW, I completely agree with you that immersive language is key.  BUt equally, if you look at language testing for students who learned a language via immersive vs. having studied the language (this includes native English speakers who don't study English, native Spanish speakers, etc), many often score poorly bc they don't understand grammar.  I know my dd has outscored heritage kids at various programs bc her grammar foundation is so strong.  She understands what she is doing vs just doing.

Her teacher referred to this as the Red Grammar Book. (I don't have a link to the book.  But here are images from the title page and TOC)

image.png.141918115ddbd93bab659d96bcee6011.png

image.png.5bdee3a943c3e7bb9549997d60e01533.png

https://www.amazon.com/Russian-Language-Textbook-1-CD/dp/5883371191

There is a more advanced grammar book, but I can't remember the name.

Here are some other resources she used:

http://rusgram.ru/

https://www.youtube.com/user/russiangrammar/playlists?app=desktop

https://ruscorpora.ru/new/

You might find more useful ideas here: https://www.actr.org/teaching-materials.html

My 11 yod will be playing around with things on this site over the summer until she starts back with her Russian teacher in the fall: https://www.teachrussian.org/?lang=en#/  (My older dd thinks this dd's study of Russian is hindered bc it is not as grammatically based and she doesn't understand the reasoning behind choices.  Same teacher, but she recognizes that younger dd is not grammatically in the same place when older dd started.)

Edited by 8filltheheart
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

If I recall my Russian instruction which started in 3rd grade, cases were introduced organically as they came up in connections with the verbs and phrases. Nominative was the default and first didn't even have a name. Genitiv for the possessive; dative and accusative in the context of sentences - (I give the book to Misha). Early on, many phrases were learned in their entirety before an understanding of the grammatical structure  (open the books, close the window, the painting hangs on the wall ...). The idea that nouns take different forms became a normal thing, and then at a later point we'd learn the rules for forming the cases depending on gender and had to memorize and recite the declensions through all 12 cases (6 singular/6 plural) for each noun.  
The 5th and 6th cases were introduced in connection with the prepositions that required them  "C", "o", "na".
I recall that some students struggled with distinguishing that, for the same prepositions of place, required different cases were required depending on whether you talked about where something was and where you put something (do I remember this correct? It's been so long. I vaguely recall "I am putting the book on the table" was 4th, but "the book lies on the table" was 6th?)

Once we had the formal concept of the cases for nouns, we learned about the adjective endings.

Edited by regentrude
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

If I recall my Russian instruction which started in 3rd grade, cases were introduced organically as they came up in connections with the verbs and phrases. Nominative was the default and first didn't even have a name. Genitiv for the possessive; dative and accusative in the context of sentences - (I give the book to Misha). Early on, many phrases were learned in their entirety before an understanding of the grammatical structure  (open the books, close the window, the painting hangs on the wall ...). The idea that nouns take different forms became a normal thing, and then at a later point we'd learn the rules for forming the cases depending on gender and had to memorize and recite the declensions through all 12 cases (6 singular/6 plural) for each noun.  

DD8 is just finishing up 3rd grade, so that's quite relevant 😄 . 

Do you think it'd be useful to have her memorize more phrases? Right now, she generally winds up using the nominative (which she also thinks of as the default), and I'll correct her occasionally to the right phrase if I'm having her repeat a sentence, but I don't insist or making her memorize things just yet. She's memorized a couple of phrases with the correct case for the pronouns (I think the pronouns are actually easier for distinguishing, since they never coincide!) but not for any other nouns. 

 

2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

The 5th and 6th cases were introduced in connection with the prepositions that required them  "C", "o", "na".
I recall that some students struggled with distinguishing that, for the same prepositions of place, required different cases were required depending on whether you talked about where something was and where you put something (do I remember this correct? It's been so long. I vaguely recall "I am putting the book on the table" was 4th, but "the book lies on the table" was 6th?)

Once we had the formal concept of the cases for nouns, we learned about the adjective endings.

Makes sense. 

Thanks for sharing your experience -- that's very useful. Did you have any immersion experiences as part of learning Russian? 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, regentrude said:

@Not_a_Number: What I found most difficult in Russian were the imperfective and perfective gerunds; I never managed to wrap my mind around the simultaneous vs completed action stuff. That's a concept we don't have in German

Just looked these up, lol, since I don't have the terminology for lots of things yet. Oof -- those do look tricky if you don't know how to use them! I'll have to think about that... good point. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, regentrude said:

@Not_a_Number: What I found most difficult in Russian were the imperfective and perfective gerunds; I never managed to wrap my mind around the simultaneous vs completed action stuff. That's a concept we don't have in German

When did you learn those, by the way? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

I can share the books my dd used.  She jumped into studying Russian after 3 yrs of Latin, though, and her foundation in grammar was very strong.  FWIW, I completely agree with you that immersive language is key.  BUt equally, if you look at language testing for students who learned a language via immersive vs. having studied the language (this includes native English speakers who don't study English, native Spanish speakers, etc), many often score poorly bc they don't understand grammar.  I know my dd has outscored heritage kids at various programs bc her grammar foundation is so strong.  She understands what she is doing vs just doing.

Thank you very much for your list of books and links!! That's extremely helpful. Much appreciated. 

Yes, I agree with you about the grammar -- my sister has the issue with grammar as well. She can speak Russian quite well but cases flummox her. I do plan to do serious grammar with DD8 at some point, but I don't think we're there yet. I figure grammar is easier as she gets older, while immersion is harder, so I want to take the opportunity to do immersion while I can. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

DD8 is just finishing up 3rd grade, so that's quite relevant 😄 . 

Do you think it'd be useful to have her memorize more phrases? Right now, she generally winds up using the nominative (which she also thinks of as the default), and I'll correct her occasionally to the right phrase if I'm having her repeat a sentence, but I don't insist or making her memorize things just yet. She's memorized a couple of phrases with the correct case for the pronouns (I think the pronouns are actually easier for distinguishing, since they never coincide!) but not for any other nouns.

Complete phrases I learned when I was 8 or 9 I still remember, lol. In some sense, that was immersive - the teacher used certain phrases over and over again, and you learned them through context (open the book, close the notebook, write on the blackboard, until tomorrow). But we didn't have to memorize them - they just appeared over and over again and you couldn't help but know.

I still remember many of the songs and poems we had to memorize and find that a fantastic way to acquire language.

Are you not speaking to her in Russian? (Or is that not actually your native language? I seem to remember that you're not actually from Russia, but Ukraine maybe?)

We had very limited immersion. In 7th grade, we did a language camp with some Russian kids; however, that didn't really work as planned since each group mostly stuck to itself. In 11th and 12th grade, I had a teacher who did not know any German and only spoke in Russian; at six hours per week, that was quite an immersive experience.

Edited by regentrude
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Are you not speaking to her in Russian? (Or is that not actually your native language? I seem to remember that you're not actually from Russia, but Ukraine maybe?)

Russian is my first language but it's not my best language -- I've operated almost entirely in English ever since age 11 when we moved to Canada, so I'm far more eloquent in English and my vocabulary is far larger. (I'm from the Eastern part of Ukraine and don't actually speak Ukrainian. I learned it at school at some point and promptly forgot it when I learned English.) 

I was actually not planning to teach DD8 Russian, since DH doesn't speak Russian and I expected to do a lot of work on math and writing instruction with her. However, she requested to learn a language at age 7, and we settled on Russian. As a result, we've been doing limited immersion: she watches 45 minutes of Russian cartoons every day, then we have a conversation for about half an hour. It's a fairly intense lesson but it's not full immersion. 

I don't think I'd be willing to switch to speaking entirely Russian to her: I simply have more to give in English. But I'd love for her to be fluent and we've been working hard at it for the last 1.5 years. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

However, she requested to learn a language at age 7, and we settled on Russian. As a result, we've been doing limited immersion: she watches 45 minutes of Russian cartoons every day, then we have a conversation for about half an hour. It's a fairly intense lesson but it's not full immersion. 

Going from what I’ve seen in my German classes, the kids who have this kind of exposure are able to develop a pretty good feel from hearing it and don’t need to do it by the “rules” and figure it out by a logical process, which may not even work reliably.  

18 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

So I’m trying to think about how to explain this in a way that’s not rigorous but gives DD8 a feel. Like, I’m not currently FEELING the difference between going towards someone and reading someone a book... I’m having trouble articulating what it is that makes those different and how DD8 would need to think about it to figure it out. And I need clear criteria.

It seems to me that studying a language and its grammar is a different process than learning to speak it.  This is why native speakers are often so clueless about grammar. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Eilonwy said:

Going from what I’ve seen in my German classes, the kids who have this kind of exposure are able to develop a pretty good feel from hearing it and don’t need to do it by the “rules” and figure it out by a logical process, which may not even work reliably.  

It seems to me that studying a language and its grammar is a different process than learning to speak it.  This is why native speakers are often so clueless about grammar. 

I’ve had good luck introducing “rules” that help her navigate, like talking about how past tense verbs have genders. It’s not formal grammar but it expedites the learning for us. The lessons are entirely in Russian, by the way. 

So I need some way to built her intuition so her brain starts “plugging into” the cases. Right now, she kind of doesn’t notice them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Eilonwy said:

Going from what I’ve seen in my German classes, the kids who have this kind of exposure are able to develop a pretty good feel from hearing it and don’t need to do it by the “rules” and figure it out by a logical process, which may not even work reliably.  

It seems to me that studying a language and its grammar is a different process than learning to speak it.  This is why native speakers are often so clueless about grammar. 

 German and Russian are very different languages. Russian is a complex language with multiple case rules and difficult verbs of motion. I have had kids learn both and mastering German is simple in comparison. I suspect heritage speaking German kids master German to a much higher degree than heritage Russian speakers. (From dd's exposure to heritage Russian speakers, they make lots of mistakes.)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

 German and Russian are very different languages. Russian is a complex language with multiple case rules and difficult verbs of motion. I have had kids learn both and mastering German is simple in comparison. I suspect heritage speaking German kids master German to a much higher degree than heritage Russian speakers. (From dd's exposure to heritage Russian speakers, they make lots of mistakes.)

That's definitely the case with my sister, no pun intended -- she frequently messes up her cases and doesn't really understand them. She's currently taking Latin in college, and she says that having the grammar background is really helpful. 

And she actually had a relatively full immersion experience -- they did one parent, one language in her family. So I'm not at all confident that the grammar will get fully picked up by itself. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
On 5/5/2021 at 6:04 PM, Not_a_Number said:

Having seen lots of beginning language classes, I'm 100% certain I don't want to teach like that. Languages ought to be taught more or less conversationally using lots of exposure. Teaching languages like they do in a textbook is basically ineffective and isn't what you'd want to do if you have a fluent speaker. 

So what I need is more of "how do you get a feel for it?" thing. Like, it's not that I can't find a definition (I can Google and find one) -- I'm struggling how you'd communicate a feel....

At 8 years old, you definitely still want to be teaching by example, not by rote or grammar-breakdown.  Developmentally, kids at this age are language sponges, and often are more adept at intuiting grammar from context, whereas around puberty that flips and it becomes much harder to intuit, but the logic brain gets turned on and you can get somewhere teaching grammar more analytically - though it's super-helpful if the intuition is already there.

I taught my kids foreign languages largely by exposure until they were about middle-school aged.  Okay, well that was mostly Spanish.  The language with cases (German) I did exposure at home but outsource the more technical stuff to German Saturday School.  But if I recall correctly there wasn't a lot of analytical grammar type stuff taught there either at those younger ages, it was learning to read and speak and learning what sounded 'right' without over-analyzing the grammar or naming cases.  They might have practiced sentences using those cases but I don't think they were saying 'now we are studying dative endings'.  They would just practice using sentences that used them. 

Although one thing I noticed with German school is that most of the kids had more immersion at home than mine (native parents, most spoke German in the house), and the German-based texts they used would try to tease out accusative vs. dative by asking Wen? or Wem?  which assumes that the cases already make complete intuitive sense in your head.  Like, if you know which one of those is the right question, the answer is obvious.  So, even now that doesn't help me much, and I'm pretty fluent.  But yeah, cases.  Ugh.

Starting around 11 I think you could start with a text written for middle or high school students and go slowly with more formal grammar terms.  I was helped teaching by texts with clear explanations, and it made me understand things much better myself.  If you're still fuzzy on what the cases are, when to use them, or how they relate to English grammar, this will really help you!  I'm much clearer myself on all this after teaching grammar in three languages to my kids!

LOL, and I thought German was bad with four cases.  Just Nominative (subject), Accusative (direct object), Dative (indirect object), and Genitive (possessive).  Though as someone else pointed out upthread, these don't completely map because in German various prepositions can any of these cases except nominative (but maybe in Russian the prepositions all take this mysterious Prepositional?  that would actually be easier...) 

Edited by Matryoshka
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2021 at 8:07 AM, Not_a_Number said:

I think grammar is much easier if you’ve got two languages, since you have something to compare to!

Well it has yet to help me any being able to speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Albeit I'm essentially illiterate in Chinese.

If you would really like to know about the nitty-gritty of the Russian language and how to explain it you may look for a Russian grammar book (like from Russia). You could look for the grade level where you don't know the rules, usually the nitty gritty of a language would be taught between 6-11 years of age. You don't have to teach from the book in terms of their scope and sequence. You could just teach yourself the nitty gritty. I find the books for kids use less cumbersome language to describe grammar vs. books for adults.  

Or you may find that you like their scope and sequence because they are teaching from fluent speaker point of view. I find a lot of parents teaching their kids Chinese use this method, especially if they are able to complete the conversational piece either by tutor or themselves.

Also you may be able to find some free resources from the Russian government. Taiwan and China have one called Chinese Overseas Affairs Council, and Overseas Chinese Language and Culture Education Online; to help you with what Russia may call this government entity.  

Edited by Clarita
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

Although one thing I noticed with German school is that most of the kids had more immersion at home than mine (native parents, most spoke German in the house), and the German-based texts they used would try to tease out accusative vs. dative by asking Wen? or Wem?  which assumes that the cases already make complete intuitive sense in your head.  Like, if you know which one of those is the right question, the answer is obvious.  So, even now that doesn't help me much, and I'm pretty fluent.  But yeah, cases.  Ugh.

Yes, lol. That's what I saw as a way to tell for fluent speakers of Russian, too! 

 

2 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

At 8 years old, you definitely still want to be teaching by example, not by rote or grammar-breakdown.  Developmentally, kids at this age are language sponges, and often are more adept at intuiting grammar from context, whereas around puberty that flips and it becomes much harder to intuit, but the logic brain gets turned on and you can get somewhere teaching grammar more analytically - though it's super-helpful if the intuition is already there.

Except that she's definitely not intuiting them yet, and she's a very analytical kiddo, anyway. But I agree with you that I'd like her to do some intuiting -- I just think a kick start would be useful here. Thinking about it, though, she's simply overwhelmed with everything else. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Except that she's definitely not intuiting them yet, and she's a very analytical kiddo, anyway. But I agree with you that I'd like her to do some intuiting -- I just think a kick start would be useful here. Thinking about it, though, she's simply overwhelmed with everything else.

She just may need more exposure and time.
My DD learned English by immersion after being fluent in German. For three months, she attended half-day preschool four days a week and did not say a word in English. Then one day, she suddenly said "Could you please pass me the cheese", and from that day on, she spoke in full sentences, with correct grammar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, regentrude said:

She just may need more exposure and time.
My DD learned English by immersion after being fluent in German. For three months, she attended half-day preschool four days a week and did not say a word in English. Then one day, she suddenly said "Could you please pass me the cheese", and from that day on, she spoke in full sentences, with correct grammar.

Yes, that would happen with full immersion but I doubt it’d happen at half an hour a day, having watched heritage speakers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’ve only taught Latin, but I feel that sentence diagramming helps a lot, because the location of each noun in a diagram gives away its case. 
 

My more analytical daughter actually enjoyed diagramming sentences. We did quite a bit in second and third grade.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, lovelearnandlive said:

I’ve only taught Latin, but I feel that sentence diagramming helps a lot, because the location of each noun in a diagram gives away its case. 
 

My more analytical daughter actually enjoyed diagramming sentences. We did quite a bit in second and third grade.

I can’t imagine it helps one talk, though 😂.

I feel like young kids are at the “language intuitive” age. I think using their innate ability to absorb spoken languages is a good idea at this age.

I imagine we’ll do more serious grammar at some point and she may enjoy it. But we simply don’t have the time right now. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I can’t imagine it helps one talk, though 😂.

I feel like young kids are at the “language intuitive” age. I think using their innate ability to absorb spoken languages is a good idea at this age.

I imagine we’ll do more serious grammar at some point and she may enjoy it. But we simply don’t have the time right now. 

We lived in Brazil when our oldest was 7-10. He was fluent in Portuguese but he made the same mistakes as Brazilian kids. Thinking in terms of English it might be like saying goed instead of went. Immersion is great for fluency but not necessarily for proper grammar. Grammar reflects the population around/hearing and limitations even moreso for heritage speakers who arent using it consistently and have to master complexities limited exposure. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, 8filltheheart said:

We lived in Brazil when our oldest was 7-10. He was fluent in Portuguese but he made the same mistakes as Brazilian kids. Thinking in terms of English it might be like saying goed instead of went. Immersion is great for fluency but not necessarily for proper grammar. Grammar reflects the population around/hearing and limitations even moreso for heritage speakers who arent using it consistently and have to master complexities limited exposure. 

This is an interesting distinction, but I agree there is a difference between fluency and a good understanding and use of grammar.  Do you think that they are best built up together from the beginning, or that one should have focus first, followed by the other, in order to achieve both fluency and correct language, for a very complex language like Russian? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, 8filltheheart said:

We lived in Brazil when our oldest was 7-10. He was fluent in Portuguese but he made the same mistakes as Brazilian kids. Thinking in terms of English it might be like saying goed instead of went. Immersion is great for fluency but not necessarily for proper grammar. Grammar reflects the population around/hearing and limitations even moreso for heritage speakers who arent using it consistently and have to master complexities limited exposure. 

I am hoping being immersed in my speaking is sufficient for proper grammar, I guess? But maybe it isn't. Hmmmm. I'll have to think about that. We definitely do a lot of informal grammar stuff right now, so I can easily imagine us doing more formal stuff later. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Eilonwy said:

This is an interesting distinction, but I agree there is a difference between fluency and a good understanding and use of grammar.  Do you think that they are best built up together from the beginning, or that one should have focus first, followed by the other, in order to achieve both fluency and correct language, for a very complex language like Russian? 

Personally, for me, grammar simply doesn't stick out of context. Like, it's not like I've never learned Russian grammar 😂. I did it in school like everyone else. I think I did it in school for 4-5 years, in fact. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

The language with cases (German) I did exposure at home but outsource the more technical stuff to German Saturday School.  But if I recall correctly there wasn't a lot of analytical grammar type stuff taught there either at those younger ages, it was learning to read and speak and learning what sounded 'right' without over-analyzing the grammar or naming cases.  They might have practiced sentences using those cases but I don't think they were saying 'now we are studying dative endings'.  They would just practice using sentences that used them. 

We’ve used the Saturday School method for grammar too- is there something like this available to you? 
My oldest (12) is now studying German grammar in earnest to prepare for the DSD1 language exam. We noticed the same gradual build up to formal grammar lessons, but it didn’t start that way.  Since your daughter likes to analyze, she could probably benefit from it younger than most. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Eilonwy said:

We’ve used the Saturday School method for grammar too- is there something like this available to you? 
My oldest (12) is now studying German grammar in earnest to prepare for the DSD1 language exam. We noticed the same gradual build up to formal grammar lessons, but it didn’t start that way.  Since your daughter likes to analyze, she could probably benefit from it younger than most. 

You mean sending her to Russian school on the weekends for me? I've thought about it, but I like our weekends free. Also, my sister did go to one of those, and I can't say I'm impressed with the result. I generally tend to think I can do things better myself, for better and worse 😉 . 

We did a bit of dative with DD8 today, by the way! It came up with the word "help." (That doesn't fit the "to" rule, does it, lol.) And I discovered she knows the genitive of a few pronouns from some phrases. So I'll probably do that one after we get dative down. It's all kind of growing organically, I find... the problem is that the sentences she's saying are getting more and more complicated, and I'm trying to keep them relatively grammatical within the context of what she knows. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

You mean sending her to Russian school on the weekends for me? I've thought about it, but I like our weekends free. Also, my sister did go to one of those, and I can't say I'm impressed with the result. I generally tend to think I can do things better myself, for better and worse 😉 . 

We did a bit of dative with DD8 today, by the way! It came up with the word "help." (That doesn't fit the "to" rule, does it, lol.) And I discovered she knows the genitive of a few pronouns from some phrases. So I'll probably do that one after we get dative down. It's all kind of growing organically, I find... the problem is that the sentences she's saying are getting more and more complicated, and I'm trying to keep them relatively grammatical within the context of what she knows. 

The language school, for me, wasn't just about the nuts and bolts of grammar, but I have heard (and experienced) that kids who are growing up bilingual can very often become aversive or even belligerent about speaking the language as they get older.  They don't see the point, want to be like their peers who don't have to do a stupid second language, and just don't want to do it because mom said so.  So, I wanted a group of peers for them who were in the same boat, and to normalize that the whole thing.  That really helped.  We still watched movies/cartoons (they were only allowed cartoons in target foreign languages 😈), listened to songs, read books, and I helped them with homework - and I didn't have to fight to get them to do it because it wasn't my assignment (this becomes much more of an issue toward puberty age...).  Being otherwise homeschooled, I didn't mind so much their having Saturday mornings in a classroom.  It was literally their only 'real' classroom experience for years and years.

Our Saturday School also had a huge German library of books and media.  Fantastic.

I also wouldn't judge all Saturday School type places by your sister's experience.  They are VERY different from place to place based on the community there.  The Boston German Sat School goes back to the 1800s and really had its act together.  There are many others in the country, but I think few are on par with that one - it often had many of the top performers of the American Sat Schools on the DSD exams.  I would expect what's on offer to you in NYC is going to be quite different from what your sister may have had available.  If you have a good school like this for Russian, I'd at least look into it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Matryoshka said:

The language school, for me, wasn't just about the nuts and bolts of grammar, but I have heard (and experienced) that kids who are growing up bilingual can very often become aversive or even belligerent about speaking the language as they get older.  They don't see the point, want to be like their peers who don't have to do a stupid second language, and just don't want to do it because mom said so. 

Yes... I've seen this, too. That's why I'm keeping the immersion so limited and so opt-in, frankly. We haven't had this issue because I was worried about it and didn't even DO Russian until DD8 asked. I'm letting DD5 mostly do Russian cartoons and very limited conversation to keep her happy with the arrangement. 

 

3 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Being otherwise homeschooled, I didn't mind so much their having Saturday mornings in a classroom.  It was literally their only 'real' classroom experience for years and years.

We do lots of classes, so that's pretty different for us. 

 

3 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

I would expect what's on offer to you in NYC is going to be quite different from what your sister may have had available.  If you have a good school like this for Russian, I'd at least look into it.

I don't know how I'd evaluate it, though. Honestly, I don't want that kind of experience to be a "good school," per se -- I'd want an immersive experience. And it's not obvious to me that it would be better to do this as opposed to Russian playdates or something like that. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I don't know how I'd evaluate it, though. Honestly, I don't want that kind of experience to be a "good school," per se -- I'd want an immersive experience. And it's not obvious to me that it would be better to do this as opposed to Russian playdates or something like that. 

Well, for me, it was the fact that the teachers were all natives, and there were a bunch of kids their ages that were in the class with them - most of them fairly fluent in German, as most of the kids were children of expatriates, not Americans who wanted their kids to learn German.  You pretty much couldn't keep up in this school without a fluent parent to support the learning outside the classroom.  An as opposed to playdates, it was a given.  On Saturdays we go to Saturday School.  No complaining about they didn't feel like it this time.

Also, took all of the academic lifting off of me.  Playdates are fine, but as you do get into things like cases and grammar, they aren't going to cut it.  Also at the same time the whole 'language sponge' thing in the brain turns way down, so just exposure doesn't work as well.  So that grammar stuff will be alone with you, and it's much easier to have someone else explaining it to them, assigning the homework, finding the resources (I tried to find you a Russian text that was similar to the kinds of things I used for German and Spanish and found... nothing).  And then the kids have peers to complain to but also be in the same boat with.  Languages are social.  It's not like learning math or science or history.  You literally need other people to talk them to, or it just seems like - an academic exercise.  Which unless you just happen to get a kid who's a huge language nerd isn't going to be enough to power through the tough parts.

It also helped my kids' attitudes a bit when I hauled them off to Germany for a summer, to point out that this was not some evil trick we were pulling on them, but that a whole country of real humans spoke like this all the time...

For Spanish, where I didn't have an outside school, I offered to teach a friend's kid for free, which made a class of 3 with my twins.  This mostly worked, but not as well.  And for my youngest, I couldn't find the 'right' group of kids to teach along with her, and she was generally more language resistant, so I ended having to give that one up with her.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Eilonwy said:

This is an interesting distinction, but I agree there is a difference between fluency and a good understanding and use of grammar.  Do you think that they are best built up together from the beginning, or that one should have focus first, followed by the other, in order to achieve both fluency and correct language, for a very complex language like Russian? 

I don't think there is a single appropriate answer.  My 22 yod didn't start Russian until 9th grade.  She had been studying French for yrs and had 3yrs of Latin.  She jumped right into intense Russian grammar.  She is an anomaly, though.  She taught herself French to fluency by high school graduation and achieved adv-mid in Russian last yr wo ever having been abroad (a level she had repeatedly been told was impossible wo being abroad for an extended period of time.)

Same teacher who taught her is working with my 11 yo.  She is not taking a grammar approach with her at this pt.  They do tongue twisters, play games, put together skits with dolls, etc.  Dd is having a lot of fun and a completely different experience than her older sibling.   

 

Edited by 8filltheheart
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been following this thread and think I'm fully caught up, but forgive me if I'm saying something that's already been covered.

Based on my experience studying Spanish and taking French, Latin, and Greek at the college level (with varying degrees of success lol)--I think cases are difficult for a native English-speaker to understand without a grasp of English grammar, because the vocabulary/ context is lacking. It's fairly easy to grasp that the indirect object takes the dative case if you know exactly what the indirect object is, but without knowing that, it would be difficult to intuit unless you were really, fully immersed in a language (and even then, I think it's easier to learn if you know what you're looking/ listening for). Of course, we DO have a remnant of nom/acc/gen declension in the pronouns: who/whom whose, they/ them/ theirs, he/ him/ his, etc. 

The way I've always explained cases (in teaching my rudimentary Latin to my DD and high school students) is in the way that they answer questions about the sentence: who is doing the action to whom/ what, for the benefit of whom, by means of what, etc. 

Re: using "to" to identify the dative--the problem is in English we use "to" in different ways. The dative maps onto an English construction like "she threw the ball to him", but "she went to the store" or "she travelled to Rome" or "to identify the dative are different meanings of "to", implying location/ direction/ means--another reason looking at the questions that the nouns answer can be helpful.  

I've certainly never tried to teach full speaking fluency to an elementary child, though. It's hard enough in a language without cases! 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

It also helped my kids' attitudes a bit when I hauled them off to Germany for a summer, to point out that this was not some evil trick we were pulling on them, but that a whole country of real humans spoke like this all the time...

I do talk to my family in Russian sometimes, so we don't have this specific issue, thankfully. But honestly, my desire to avoid the power struggles was WHY we never did Russian in the first place. I just wasn't that interested in expending all of my "pushing the kids" juice on language. 

 

31 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Also, took all of the academic lifting off of me.  Playdates are fine, but as you do get into things like cases and grammar, they aren't going to cut it.  Also at the same time the whole 'language sponge' thing in the brain turns way down, so just exposure doesn't work as well. 

So... I moved at age 11 and I was a fine language sponge at that point. In my vague experience, any time before puberty is still "language sponge" age. Now, that was an intensive immersion experience, unlike what DD8 is getting 😉 . 

I like doing the academic teaching myself because I'm a much better teacher than most people -- it's just somehow one of my skills. It's not nearly as true in a classroom, but I'm good at teaching one-on-one. Thats really why we don't outsource much (and why I'm currently trying to build up a tutoring business.) 

 

25 minutes ago, jrichstad said:

It's fairly easy to grasp that the indirect object takes the dative case if you know exactly what the indirect object is, but without knowing that, it would be difficult to intuit unless you were really, fully immersed in a language (and even then, I think it's easier to learn if you know what you're looking/ listening for). Of course, we DO have a remnant of nom/acc/gen declension in the pronouns: who/whom whose, they/ them/ theirs, he/ him/ his, etc. 

But you can explain what the indirect object is as you're explaining dative as well? We've been doing it from the perspective of "how the language works." I guess I tend to believe that even in analytical situations, an important part of learning is getting a feel for the subject. 

I kind of figured that as we tackle Russian grammar, it'll be a lot easier to do English grammar as well, because we'll have discussed all sorts of different things that words DO. For instance, DD8 now acutely feels the fact that English is an order-based language, in a way that she wouldn't have before we did Russian. There's nothing like seeing a distinction being made between different structures to really understand both the structures. 

 

28 minutes ago, jrichstad said:

Re: using "to" to identify the dative--the problem is in English we use "to" in different ways. The dative maps onto an English construction like "she threw the ball to him", but "she went to the store" or "she travelled to Rome" or "to identify the dative are different meanings of "to", implying location/ direction/ means--another reason looking at the questions that the nouns answer can be helpful.  

Yeah, I don't think this would work. Thinking about it, the dative seems to be mostly used when you're doing something for someone, with someone as a someone. Giving, helping, reading, writing... something's gotta be a beneficiary. I suppose it really does map onto the "indirect object" almost perfectly. (So I guess we'll learn about indirect objects along the way? 😉 ) 

As you can perhaps tell, I've forgotten basically all my grammar training in Russian and I don't HAVE any in English 😂. However, I think my chance of retaining it as I explore this with DD8 is quite high, because it'll be in context and it will make sense. Puzzling out grammar is a good way to learn, I think. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

I don't think there is a single appropriate answer.  My 22 yod didn't start Russian until 9th grade.  She had been studying French for yrs and had 3yrs of Latin.  She jumped right into intense Russian grammar.  She is an anomaly, though.  She taught herself French to fluency by high school graduation and achieved adv-mid in Russian last yr wo ever having been abroad (a level she had repeatedly been told was impossible wo being abroad for an extended period of time.)

Same teacher who taught her is working with my 11 yo.  She is not taking a grammar approach with her at this pt.  They do tongue twisters, play games, put together skits with dolls, etc.  Dd is having a lot of fun and a completely different experience than her older sibling.   Here is a video she did for her class: 

 

 

Hahahah, it's the turnip fairy tale!! Awesome. I'll have to read this with my kiddo. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've recently come across some videos by a guy who learned Polish to a great degree of fluency by very carefully reading and listening to all of the parts of Harry Potter in Polish. (So, not Russian, but a language with similarly complex grammar with its 7 cases, genders, verb aspects, etc.) He acquired the grammar more or less "naturally" through massive exposure to the verb and noun endings. I've also heard of Polish heritage speakers, whose parents used OPOL, but who didn't start using cases properly and consistently until they started reading a great deal in the language. Based on those cases, I do hope my own kids' grammar will improve "naturally" as their exposure (mainly through reading but also through cartoons and audiobooks) to all of the word endings increases. When they are older (later elementary or middle school), I will definitely teach them grammar formally, but I'm hoping most of the work will have been done by then and that we will be starting from a place of a very good natural feel for the language. (We shall see how it goes.)

I personally like the idea of books for the purpose of increasing exposure for heritage speakers. (So, for kids who are already conversational and whose comprehension is good enough to handle reading.) This is because, in general, reading is much faster than speaking. Reading a book will expose my kid to many more words per minute than conversation or most other media. I've seen proponents of the comprehensible input method say it takes about 70 exposures to a word in different context for the student to really internalize it. 70 might not be the correct number, but, anyway, the idea is that of providing more exposure to the same word in various contexts. For highly inflected languages, we will ideally want exposures to those words in all of their forms.

Not really helpful to you, OP, I know, since you're in a different situation. Just musing.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:
You mean sending her to Russian school on the weekends for me? I've thought about it, but I like our weekends free.

Yes, but fortunately ours is not actually on the weekend, since I like to keep weekends free too.

1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

We did a bit of dative with DD8 today, by the way! It came up with the word "help." (That doesn't fit the "to" rule, does it, lol.)

Nope, it doesn’t! “Help” is dative in German too, and the explanation I saw is that in German, help isn’t something you do to someone, it’s something you offer them.  Makes sense that the ideas wouldn’t always align in different languages.  But then it’s so hard to come up with a rule in English, because what takes dative is what falls in that category (indirect object, but maybe other stuff too) in the target language. 

43 minutes ago, jrichstad said:

Re: using "to" to identify the dative--the problem is in English we use "to" in different ways. The dative maps onto an English construction like "she threw the ball to him", but "she went to the store" or "she travelled to Rome" or "to identify the dative are different meanings of "to", implying location/ direction/ means

Plus other complications as above in English... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Animula V. Blandula said:

I personally like the idea of books for the purpose of increasing exposure for heritage speakers. (So, for kids who are already conversational and whose comprehension is good enough to handle reading.) This is because, in general, reading is much faster than speaking. Reading a book will expose my kid to many more words per minute than conversation or most other media. I've seen proponents of the comprehensible input method say it takes about 70 exposures to a word in different context for the student to really internalize it. 70 might not be the correct number, but, anyway, the idea is that of providing more exposure to the same word in various contexts. For highly inflected languages, we will ideally want exposures to those words in all of their forms.

Not really helpful to you, OP, I know, since you're in a different situation. Just musing.

No, I remember you saying that 🙂 . As someone who learns a LOT from other people's experiences (it's frankly why I'm a good teacher in the first place), I've integrated this idea into my thinking. She's excited about reading, anyway, so I think I'm going to make more of an effort to do exposure via reading as soon as it's even vaguely plausible. I don't think we're quite there, but I think we will be in 6 months to a year. (And that would make it possible for me to be a bit more hands-off about exposure, which would be good.) 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

So... I moved at age 11 and I was a fine language sponge at that point. In my vague experience, any time before puberty is still "language sponge" age. Now, that was an intensive immersion experience, unlike what DD8 is getting 😉 . 

Especially as a person that is smarter than the average bear, you have to be careful not to extrapolate what worked for you to what will work for others.  I used to think that I learned my languages fluently because my mother had given me good exposure/immersion as a kid.  In retrospect, I realized that informal grammar on the sofa plus some weeks of true exposure/immersion is not even close to enough for most people.  My own darn kids, who should have inherited all this language ability from me, did not get as fluent as I did with way more exposure and teaching, except for the one who did end up loving language and majoring in linguistics.  But anyway, my ideas about how early exposure plus some grammar would be enough was severly challenged by my own kids - who are all smart, but not necessarily in the same ways.

I knew a family that immigrated with two daughters just one year apart - one ended up totally accent free, the other never lost her accent.  Everyone is a language sponge when young.  But when and how much that diminishes is very individual.  I'm old and seem to still have a decent amount of sponginess, lol.  And for anyone starting later, interest/diligence is as important as sponge ability (witness Eight's dd).  But it's not necessarily apparent which kind of kid you have till you're past the window where the sponge stuff is still universal.

 

Quote

I like doing the academic teaching myself because I'm a much better teacher than most people -- it's just somehow one of my skills. It's not nearly as true in a classroom, but I'm good at teaching one-on-one. Thats really why we don't outsource much (and why I'm currently trying to build up a tutoring business.) 

I am an excellent language teacher.  But there is something about foreign language teaching that makes the vast majority of kids bristle about having their mom be the one to do this.  I cannot tell you how much more fun it is to teach other people's kids foreign languages  - this is mostly what I'm doing for tutoring now, and it really is my superpower.  But my kids were still resistant to me and preferred perhaps less skilled teachers who were simply not mom, especially as they get older.  I don't think this is true for all subjects, but it seems to be an unusually persistent theme if you read about raising bilingual kids.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Eilonwy said:

Nope, it doesn’t! “Help” is dative in German too, and the explanation I saw is that in German, help isn’t something you do to someone, it’s something you offer them.  Makes sense that the ideas wouldn’t always align in different languages.  But then it’s so hard to come up with a rule in English, because what takes dative is what falls in that category (indirect object, but maybe other stuff too) in the target language. 

I feel like the idea of being a recipient or beneficiary of an action is about the most precise formulation you can make. That really does map onto indirect objects in every example I've found. I think the word "dative" comes from a word for giving, come to think of it. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

No, I remember you saying that 🙂 . As someone who learns a LOT from other people's experiences (it's frankly why I'm a good teacher in the first place), I've integrated this idea into my thinking. She's excited about reading, anyway, so I think I'm going to make more of an effort to do exposure via reading as soon as it's even vaguely plausible. I don't think we're quite there, but I think we will be in 6 months to a year. (And that would make it possible for me to be a bit more hands-off about exposure, which would be good.) 

If you can get her reading in Russian, I will agree that reading is just a fantastic way to gain input into 'what sounds right', as well as a wonderful way to increase vocabulary, especially for kids who intuit well from context (I also learned the hard way that not everyone is as good at this as I am...).  

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Matryoshka said:

I am an excellent language teacher.  But there is something about foreign language teaching that makes the vast majority of kids bristle about having their mom be the one to do this.  I cannot tell you how much more fun it is to teach other people's kids foreign languages  - this is mostly what I'm doing for tutoring now, and it really is my superpower.  But my kids were still resistant to me and preferred perhaps less skilled teachers who were simply not mom, especially as they get older.  I don't think this is true for all subjects, but it seems to be an unusually persistent theme if you read about raising bilingual kids.

The thing is that I've already had to DEAL with this stupid resistance, and we've been working on overcoming it. As it turns out, if you mostly teach by writing your kids' math lessons and doing Socratic questioning, your kids are resistant about EVERYTHING and you have to just bite the bullet and figure out a way to work with that. We're still figuring it out, but we've made a lot of progress this year -- the pandemic has really helped us focus on ironing out the natural power struggle issues. 

 

2 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Especially as a person that is smarter than the average bear, you have to be careful not to extrapolate what worked for you to what will work for others. 

I used to do that, but more than a decade of teaching experience has knocked the propensity right out of me 😉 . At this point, I am very much of the mindset that I have to teach the kids in front of me, and that I will experiment with techniques until I find something that works. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Matryoshka said:

If you can get her reading in Russian, I will agree that reading is just a fantastic way to gain input into 'what sounds right', as well as a wonderful way to increase vocabulary, especially for kids who intuit well from context (I also learned the hard way that not everyone is as good at this as I am...).  

DD8 is amazing at symbol decoding. It's one of her superpowers. She already DOES read in Russian, it's just that her vocabulary isn't quite enough to make sense of what she reads. She has also been doing handwriting practice and can now write in Russian. 

So I absolutely do plan to hand her grammar exposure over to books at some point. I know that this was extremely useful for me in English as soon as I could DO it. It's just that at the beginning I really couldn't. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

I knew a family that immigrated with two daughters just one year apart - one ended up totally accent free, the other never lost her accent. 

I know two people who moved at age FIVE and still have serious accents! They are both pretty spectrumy, though. I've heard that this makes it harder to pick up language from peers... 

(You meet a lot of people who hover near the autism spectrum in math, let me tell you.) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, Animula V. Blandula said:

I've recently come across some videos by a guy who learned Polish to a great degree of fluency by very carefully reading and listening to all of the parts of Harry Potter in Polish. (So, not Russian, but a language with similarly complex grammar with its 7 cases, genders, verb aspects, etc.) He acquired the grammar more or less "naturally" through massive exposure to the verb and noun endings. I've also heard of Polish heritage speakers, whose parents used OPOL, but who didn't start using cases properly and consistently until they started reading a great deal in the language. Based on those cases, I do hope my own kids' grammar will improve "naturally" as their exposure (mainly through reading but also through cartoons and audiobooks) to all of the word endings increases. When they are older (later elementary or middle school), I will definitely teach them grammar formally, but I'm hoping most of the work will have been done by then and that we will be starting from a place of a very good natural feel for the language. (We shall see how it goes.)

I personally like the idea of books for the purpose of increasing exposure for heritage speakers. (So, for kids who are already conversational and whose comprehension is good enough to handle reading.) This is because, in general, reading is much faster than speaking. Reading a book will expose my kid to many more words per minute than conversation or most other media. I've seen proponents of the comprehensible input method say it takes about 70 exposures to a word in different context for the student to really internalize it. 70 might not be the correct number, but, anyway, the idea is that of providing more exposure to the same word in various contexts. For highly inflected languages, we will ideally want exposures to those words in all of their forms.

Not really helpful to you, OP, I know, since you're in a different situation. Just musing.

This is basically how dd taught herself French.  She watched movies in French that she knew in English.  She read books like Chronicles of Narnia in French bc she knew the story so well in English.  She progressed to watching the Flash News which is like a 10 min news blurb with 20 mins of news crammed in with very rapid speaking.  By jr yr she was building puzzles while watching movies.  By sr yr she was reading Les Mis and having long literature conversations with a Francophone.   But, yes, she did study grammar in there equivalent to how I make my kids study English grammar.  The biggest drawback she says she has now is that between 3 languages' punctuation rules, she doesn't know when to use a comma in English.  🙂

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

I knew a family that immigrated with two daughters just one year apart - one ended up totally accent free, the other never lost her accent.

In my experience, that may have to do with musicality. The ability to hear and mimic a language is an ear thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...