1)current language progress
2) Different varieties of English - American
3) Swearing ... again!
4) Reading and writing practice and what we've been doing with advice for parents.
5) Summer 2016
6) Cultural issues
1) Language update
As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, Marc is a de facto native bilingual Catalan - English speaker with increasing proficiency in Spanish.
The language points that I've noticed are
a) His correct use of the conditionals:
If I were there
I wish I were
(notice the more acceptable use of 'were' and not 'was')
and the 3rd conditional
If I'd been there I would've done something else.
He hadn't been using the would've done, but this has 'appeared' and seems to be consolidated now.
B) Use of idiomatic language
He used so many phrases that he's learned from me, books and films / TV now that I've lost count.
When a new idiom comes to mind I use it and then see if he picks it up.
Dad: The cat's in seventh heaven, isn't it?
in the end he's also started using this. Children seem to take new phrases and use them easily.
He makes the odd 'mistake' . The words begins by (instead of 'with') . These are mentioned in a diplomatic way. "We'd say "begins with..." . so it begins with a 'B' , doesn't it?
2) American English
Just like the UK and Ireland. there is a lot of input from American English on TV and in films and even the books he's reading so, as you might expect, he uses some American words and phrases.
We learned the work 'recess' in a book (breaktime), and then later in the week, he used recess instead of break! He's also using US past participles: 'gotten' instead of 'got', and 'snuck' instead of sneaked.
There is a new American boy in his class who has joined from the American school, and Marc purposely used the American words he knows, e.g 'recess' , 'soccer' instead of 'football', etc.
This awareness of other varieties of a language comes from a parent's desire to expand the child's linguistic and cultural knowledge. If your child is living abroad, you can't expect them to speak in the same way as a child in the UK, so as long as it is English, then that's fine with me! BUT, I always point out the use of American words so that he's aware of the differences.
While we try to limit and stop bad languge, as has been pointed out in other bilingual family books published by Multilingual Matters, adult language ultimately gets out. He gets some input from internet when he watches (sometimes unsuitable) videos, Minecraft tutorials for example and some films. Obviously, a lot of this language comes from me! Recently he's started using 'Jesus' and 'Jesus Christ'. It's inevitable and is a sign of language 'progress' and also a sign that the child is a language mirror and you are the linguistic role model.
This is where we've seen a significant moment; that is, he's started reading on his own, to himself, because he enjoys it. This is great for him and also a reward for me to see the years of (mostly) patient insistence on reading pay off. Once, I even had to take the book away from him so he'd have dinner!!
The second improvement is that now he reads aloud with more meaning and not just repeating the words. See video. I also show you a way of helping the child when they don't know a word, in this case 'proposterous', and then we use it so that the meaning sticks.
The secret to reading, which I've set out over the previous entries in the blog, is to work through the levels, to reward the child, and to be regular and flexible. Recently, when he hasn't been in the mood, I've read a page and he's read a page. He also gets a model to copy. it's worked very well.
and use every opportunity to read when words come up in instructions and on internet pages.
I've asked the school to get him to write more often in class. The current activity is reading a book and summarising it. This, and spelling, and two ongoing areas to improve on.
The books we've been doing are very boy oriented as you'll see by the titles:
The Captain underpants series.
The Wimpy Kid series
He loves both and they are unsimplified as well as being American English.
We're also using two Carol Vaudermann books,
Maths Made Easy
10 Minutes spelling a day. We did a page from this this morning, and he really is improving, I'm relieved to say!
For the first time in 3 years Marc won't be attending his cousin's school in the summer.
I've decided to give him a break. However, after telling him he said he wouldn't mind going back again!! I've booked other dates to go with him to English including a visit to the Arsenal stadium. It doens't look like we're going to be celebrating anything there though.
He supports Arsenal and Barça and says he dosen't know which he supports in the coming Champions League match!! Sadly, after the first match he was teased at school because he also supports Arsenal and he's 'too English'. Children notice everything and can be cruel.
These are issues to be ready for on the bilingual journey.