Friday, March 15, 2013

What Multilingualism Really Looks Like

We have a system. To successfully pass on your languages it is really best to have a system, and our system works.

But it's also important to be flexible, okay, and that is how I'm explaining how we found ourselves in the following situation this week:

Apo reading a book in English to K on one couch while I read a book in Slovak to M on the other.

That's what multilingualism looks like in our house!


Apo and I also spontaneously forgot how to speak our own languages while out on a walk last week: I spoke to K in Czech and claimed to know no English while Apo insisted he actually ONLY spoke English. Gave K a big fit of the giggles.


This week K picked up a book and started reading. She read several words / a sentence or two out of a couple of books, including from one Czech book. That was a little more challenging as I have been focusing on English only, so she didn't know how to sound out all the words - but she managed it. I told her that reading Czech is actually pretty easy compared to reading English, because each letter has only one sound.

Then I suggested that she find a Dr. Seuss book, as that might be easier to read. She got One Fish, Two Fish and read about 10 pages before I asked if she wanted to stop and finish later. "No!" she said, "I want to read it all! And then all of M's books and my books!"

Dr. Seuss is challenging but not impossible for her, since we have not had all the letter combinations and such from our 100 Lessons book. It is supposed to finish at about a 1st grade level, so I had planned to read Dr. Seuss after finishing the lesson book, but K had other ideas it seems.

Later that day she told me, "I can't believe I read that book on my own!!"

She has also started picking words to read out of chapter books (or my Kindle), such as HARRY POTTER or FARMER BOY (titles at the top of each page) from the books we were reading together, or finding some of the words she recognizes from her lessons. I think it is exciting for her to see that what she is learning in her lessons can be applied in the real world.

Then yesterday I read a Charlie and Lola book to K and M, the one where Lola is scared about starting school. After we finished, I said,

"Lola was nervous about going to school, wasn't she? Do you remember when you were nervous about starting big kid school?"
"Yeah, I was scared about it."
"Are you still scared about it or do you think it's going to be ok?"
"I think it's going to be ok now."
"Because you thought you couldn't learn to read. But you caaaaan!"
(self-satisfied nod and grin)

And THAT is why I'm teaching the child to read.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Picture Identification, Blueberries and Nursery Rhymes

Recently my daughter was practicing writing lowercase letters, each with a picture showing the sound the letter makes. She got to W, which had a stone wall. "Wock," she said confidently.

I couldn't say R at her age, either. She actually can say it now, but doesn't always remember which words it is in. It reminds me of the time my six-year-old sister gave me a hand-written note that said, "Have a nice twip."


Also while practicing writing, K identified the V picture as,

"Vesta. Why is this in Czech and not English?"
"It's a vest."
"Yes, but what is it in English?"
"In English it's a vest. In Czech it's a vesta."

K still looked at me as if to ask, "Are you sure??"


A new favorite nursery rhyme for both my children is "Káže Katke prísna mať" - Katka because she feels is it autobiographical (no comment) and Marek because of the "Ty ty ty, ty ty ty" part. He can find the book and page it is on and bring it to me, waving his finger back and forth and saying "ty ty ty!" until I read it.

He is a boy of few words, but he loves his books.


Also the lack of posts this week is brought to you by a particularly profitable work week for me. And gumbo. I made gumbo in the several hours on Monday between turning in finished translations and accepting new ones. It was delicious. Then I took yesterday off except for turning in and accepting a new one. But other than that, a busy March so far.

Oh, there were also blueberry muffins on Monday. We had a tense moment when K froze with her first bite half-way to her mouth, demanding to know if the muffins were made with FRESH OR FROZEN blueberries. I really thought she was going to refuse to eat my from-scratch muffins because the ingredients were not sufficiently organic and grown from a balcony garden, but it turned out she just wanted to know if frozen berries put into non-frozen dough would cook the same in the oven. Good save.


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