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Language-learning fantasy


UHP
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I've been pessimistic about the possibility of teaching another language at home. My impression is that the only thing that works is immersion (please contradict me if you know that's wrong!) and I can't provide it personally. 

My neighbors are native russophones. Their daughter is a couple of years older than mine (six), but they're close and play every day. When I was a kid I learned no language from my multilingual friends, so until now I didn't think this was much of an opportunity. But yesterday I found a cute handwritten dictionary that the neighbor girl had made for my daughter, a page of romanized Russian and equal signs. They've been talking about it. I still have no good idea for how to help her learn Russian or anything else, but my gears are turning.

Does anyone have any experience turning a spark of interest like this, into something more?

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That is adorable.

I bet they would like to play with this. Copoka It's an activity book, with the student book and teacher's book available.  If it's the two of them playing, I'd just get the student book and the activity book.  She might really like the activities as she learns the alphabet, and it's not too fast.  I'm just not sure about it being used with a new reader.  6 is awfully young to learn two alphabets for many kids.

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4 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

If it's the two of them playing, I'd just get the student book and the activity book.

Thank you, I've just ordered them. It sounds like it's worth a try and more.

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I know absolutely zero French.  I have a dd who graduated from high school fluent. When she was younger she watched TV shows in French that she was familiar with in English.  She did that alongside simple French grammar books.  She started reading books in French that she knew in English, etc.

Same dd is also fluent in Russian.  She didn't start learning Russian until 9th grade and studied it in college, too.  Russian has a very complex grammar.  My 6th grader is also studying Russian (she did last yr as well) and it will probably take her 3+ yrs to master what her sister did in 1 yr bc her older sister had studied Latin for 3 yrs and had a much stronger grasp of grammar. 

With my younger dd, she watches cartoons on youtube in Russian (there are oodles of them.  Octonauts is one that they can watch in English and then Russian.) She sings songs in Russian. (I'm pretty sure she has memorized several of the songs from Frozen in Russian.  (they are also on youtube.) She sings them all of the time.)   She works with a teacher during the school yr.  Last yr she learned their alphabet, handwriting, and simple vocabulary. 

Russian is a difficult language to master, so at 6, I'd just let her play with her friend and see what happens and then maybe add videos and songs at home.  Discerning sounds and saying them will impact language acquisition later on.

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I might speak to the parents or look online about finding someone who can record a few MP3's for your DD.

Common phrases that she can use with her friend.
Vocabulary for the things that they do play with
Question words that she can use to get more information from her friend

What a neat situation to be in. Your daughter has a playmate that she's interested in learning from and who is interested in teaching her.

Perhaps you can ask the neighbors about teaching your daughter to read from a Bukvar (Russian Syllabary) as this can help train her ear and develop her accent learning to read from a native Russian.

Does your daughter watch TV? I'm sure you can find a show on YouTube for her to watch.

Edited by mathmarm
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8 hours ago, UHP said:

I've been pessimistic about the possibility of teaching another language at home. My impression is that the only thing that works is immersion (please contradict me if you know that's wrong!) and I can't provide it personally. 

I think immersion is just the easiest (?) or quickest way someone learns a language. I mean essentially you are put in a position where you either learn the language or you can't communicate. After a while a person adapts usually by learning the language. It's definitely not the only way, one just has to have more self discipline to learn it despite not needing to use it.

I would encourage you to try and learn the language alongside her (not saying you'll always be ahead of her, or even need to be). It's really encouraging to kids to watch their parents struggle learning a language with them to do the work. I knew a few kids on my Chinese school class who learned Chinese better than I did because their parents didn't know how to speak and read/write so they were motivated to practice and learn with their parents. Unlike me where I just thought Chinese was super hard and it was unfair that I had to learn it (my parents were completely fluent in it).

At any rate it seems that your daughter can definitely be immersed in the language sometimes (via your neighbor and her friend). If you voice this interest to them they may be willing to give your daughter the immersive experience when she is in their midst.

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I thought I'd also share that our oldest ds learned to speak Portuguese simply through playing with kids.  We lived in Brazil at the time.  I did not speak the language and the only language ever spoken in our home was English.  He started off playing with the neighborhood kids knowing zero Portuguese and within 3-4 months he was pretty fluent just from playing.  He was 7 at the time.  (Of course he had no one but siblings to play with in English.  But, playing was the only "source" of learning the language.)

FWIW, I think Clarita's advice of learning Russian, while admirable, is definitely not one I would aspire to.   They can learn languages without parents learning the languages if they are motivated themselves.  (Thank goodness, bc I stink at learning foreign languages.  I lived in Brazil for 2 yrs and was not even functional in the language.)

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