Petra Lingua Revisited

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Petra Lingua is our curriculum of choice for learning French. We read books in French and I talk to them in French in the afternoon, but we build vocabulary in a systematic way with Petra Lingua.

I have written before about this website: here and here. You can learn many languages, like German, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and even Swedish.

In the fall, when it became clear that my local homeschool community did not really have an interest in our French Play Group, I put Petra Lingua to the side and focused on reading to the kids in French. I also tried using French on a more consistent basis with them, in the afternoon.

Then life happened: the holidays in November and December; my father’s passing in January; the flu in February. While they lingered on the bed with no energy, I read to them a lot, but then I also put a laptop in front of them to see if they had any interest and energy for Petra Lingua French. They did!

Children studying with Petra Lingua

My children study French with Petra Lingua while having the flu

So much so, they fought over who to do the exercises. Continue reading »

 They brought the account we have with them from 25% accomplished to 40% and, a few days later, 50%. I was happy to see the progress, and then wondered if we could do this on a more consistent basis, say twice a week. When I grew up, we took French and English in school, starting in middle school. Every week, we had two hours of French and two hours of English. If you applied yourself, you could become an advanced speaker by the time you finished high school, and some of us did.

Children study French online

My children’s energy came back as they worked through the exercises on Petra Lingua

Petra Lingua is not very expensive, it is fun for young kids, and it provides lots of repetition to facilitate memorization. You can purchase it online or on CDs and DVDs. The mascot, a dog named Oiffy, is adorable. You can even get a hand puppet to use with your youngest audience.

They do offer me this software for free in exchange for an honest review. I am here to honestly tell you that this program works if you work it. My children sing along and remember words and phrases many weeks after the lessons. Here’s to consistency in teaching languages!


8 Ways Learning a Second Language Helps Kids Grow

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Recently, I became aware of a language service which I think will help many parents teach their children a second language. When it comes to language learning, support, accountability, and regular routines are key factors. But let me let them speak for themselves…

 

As a homeschooling parent, there’s no doubt that you find yourself constantly wondering how you can help your child obtain a well-rounded education that both challenges and excites. Placing an emphasis on learning a second language is a great way to introduce your child to another culture and encourage a healthy sense of wonder about the world. Consider these benefits of learning a second language:

 

1. It is directly related to higher scoring on standardized tests.

Learning a second language increases brain performance across the board. Research shows that students who have studied a foreign language do better on standardized tests like ACT exams and the SATs.

 

2. It encourages flexibility and open-mindedness.

Kids who study another language grow up in an environment where objects, feelings, and other facets of life have different names. This positions them to avoid being overly judgmental, deeming their native language, values, and culture “right,” while others are “wrong.”

 

3. It leads to better mathematical problem-solving skills.

Language learning is much more than a linguistic process; it is directly related to increased cognitive problem-solving. Kids who are fluent in a second language routinely outperform other students on math tests, despite having less of a mathematics emphasis in their core curriculum.

 

4. It improves memory.

Using the brain to learn a new language involves constant memorization of new vocabulary. This serves as a strengthening exercise, with research indicating that those who speak two languages are better at memorizing lists, statistics, and other facts.

 

5. It promotes increased understanding of others.

Kids who know how to speak another language learn to love and appreciate other cultures besides their own. Whether close to home or while traveling abroad, they can connect with native speakers of the language on a personal and meaningful level.

 

6. It gives them a competitive advantage.

Being bilingual has numerous benefits on paper, like being able to add it to a resume or college application. The foreign language skills your child learns now can translate to a measurable advantage in the future.

 

7. It positions kids for easier language learning in the future.

Future language learning is less intimidating for bilinguals. The brain recognizes patterns, rules, and structure, and experts say that each subsequent language learned is easier than the one before it.

 

8. It opens the door to making new friends and connections around the world.

There’s no better way to entice your child to be curious about the world than promoting language learning in your home. Being fluent in a second language is about much more than being able to speak to others, it enables your child to form new friendships, learn about other cultures, and fuels their appetite to explore the world beyond the home. And that is one of the greatest gifts any parent can give!

If you haven’t already, now’s the perfect time to incorporate language learning into your child’s life. Choose from small group classes, online lessons, and more, provided by expert teachers, to engage your child and get them excited about mastering a new language!
Dusty Fox writes on behalf of Language Trainers, an online language tutoring service for individuals and businesses. Take one of Language Trainers’ free online language level tests to see how good your current skills are, or send a quick inquiry to learn more about their tailor-made course packages today!


Thoughtful Thursday Week 6 – More Guest Posts

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Happy Thoughtful Thursday!

Here are two more guest posts I wrote for two very interesting homeschooling blogs:

The titles pretty much speak for themselves. I think you know by now that it is my passion to encourage homeschooling moms to dare to teach a foreign language in their homeschool even if they do not speak it.

Thoughtful Thursday 6

On the other hand, I have a special interest in bilingual and trilingual moms who try to pass on their languages to their children. And yes, there are polyglot moms out there who still haven’t figured out how to do it.  Continue reading »

The reasons vary from fear to laziness. (Wait, did I actually write that?)

Well, I am here to tell you that it is your duty to teach your children a foreign language just as much as it is to feed them. Ever heard the expression, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?”

I have been making a living since I was 18 with foreign languages, i.e. because I learned French and English in my childhood and adolescence. Not everybody is called to leave their country and become a translator or a language teacher or a customer service rep in several languages like I was. But having another language in your list of skills will take you places you never dreamed possible. Guaranteed.

Now that’s food for thought.


French Friday, 4 Calendar Vocabulary Games

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If you need a bit more fun in your homeschool, use the French calendar vocabulary flash cards I made a few weeks ago with the following four games:

1. Attach the French days of the week vocabulary cards to your calendar display. Cover the days of the week in English with your French cards. If the English words are bigger than the French cards, you can glue the French flash cards onto bigger paper, like construction paper.

Attach the cards with push pins or clothes pins onto your calendar board. Ask your students to recite the days of the week in French first. Then, reveal the English words.

French Days of the Week Calendar Games

2. If you have eight or more students, have seven students carry a day of the week flash card and another child arrange them in order. Take turns. If you have less than eight, you can have your students carry two cards each, in order.

Another variation: the students can arrange the flash cards in sequential order on the table. For kinesthetic learners, put the cards on the floor, on a hopscotch rug or on a hopscotch outline you made with pencils or popsicle sticks.

If the weather permits it, play the game outside, on a hopscotch drawn with chalk in your driveway. They can say the name of each day as they reach the respective square.

3. Have your students make up a song with the days of the week to the tune of an English song they know well. Try “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

4. To rehearse the names slowly, show them how to break the word into syllables, e.g. “mar-di.” Clapping the beats of the syllables is a great way to experience the pronunciation in slow repetition – essential for memorization.

Hope these games bring a bit more variety and fun to your homeschool learning. A bientôt!

For more French Friday posts, click here.


French Friday, Numbers 1-20

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Hope you had a good homeschooling week. My children have learned some new skills this week and I certainly have learned a few things myself. They say if you really want to learn something, teach it.

For today’s French lesson, I made flash cards with numbers 1-20.

Numbers 1 to 20 in French, French Friday

Click on the link below to open the PDF file or to save it to your computer.

French Numbers 1-20

Hope you find this useful! For more French Friday posts, please click here.

Please leave me a comment below. Happy homeschooling!


French Friday, Calendar Flashcards

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For my Friday post, I decided to upload a couple of resources for learning French. These are for you to use in your homeschool or after school language learning efforts. For more French Friday resources, click here.

I made some flash cards for you to download and print. The PDF links are below. You can use them with either reading or non-reading students. The first page of each PDF file will give you instructions on how to incorporate them in your daily routine, but I am sure you can figure other ways to use them.

If you need further help with the pronunciation, – and who doesn’t? – click on the youtube videos. I chose some neat songs to help reinforce pronunciation and help with memorization. We retain information better if we learn it in a song.

I placed the videos right here for your convenience. Feel free to bookmark this post and come back to it as needed.

My plan is to create more of these lessons and upload them all in a special tab by themselves on my blog. Coming soon. Sign up for email updates so you don’t miss it.

Until then, enjoy the days of the week as well as the months of the year in French below.

Click on the PDF link under each picture and save and print your flash cards as needed. The pronunciation video follows.

 

Les jours de la semaine

 Days of the Week in French PDF link

 


The months of the year in French

 Months of the Year in French PDF link

 

This post is linked to

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

What a fun activity to add to your calendar moments every morning. For five minutes a day, you and your homeschooling students can solidify French knowledge and stimulate neurons. Enjoy!


How to Come Up with 4 Hours of Homeschooling Kindergarten

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Some states ask homeschoolers to perform four hours of instruction in each of the 180 days of school they must report at the end of the school year. Tennessee, where I live, is one of those states.

State officials do not ask for specifics on what we did each day during those four hours. However, for my own sake, I keep tabs on what we do daily and how long each activity took. I use a simple notebook on each child, even though my daughter is in preschool and, as such, her instruction is not “official.”

Now, let’s define instruction. Any time knowledge is imparted, instruction happens. Children do not receive instruction only if they are seatead at a desk with their textbooks opened at a specific page as directed by an adult licensed as a teacher, who is standing in front of a blackboard or white board or SMART interactive board.

Children learn all the time. It’s what children do. They learn. They haven’t been around much, so most of what they see around them is new and exciting. Our task as parents is to surround them with positive, age-appropriate sources of information, according to their learning styles.

My daughter, a preschooler, joins us for most activities, so I use plural when I describe what we do. Here’s how I come up with four hours of instruction for my son, who is in homeschool kindergarten.

 

First Hour

30 minutes – Bible. This represents both our morning and evening devotional times, during which we read stories from age-appropriate Bible curriculum, learn hymns and praise songs, memorize passages of Scripture, pray, and do crafts or activities that will solidify and make real the knowledge of God. This time also covers those precious moments throughout the day when we talk about God because they ask about life and I direct their minds to the truths of the Bible.

30 minutes – Home Ec. Think making the bed, taking dirty clothes to the hamper, putting toys and school supplies up at the end of the day, dusting, wiping the table after meals, doing laundry, setting the table, stirring the oatmeal I cook for breakfast, pouring flour from the measuring cup into the mixing bowl for pancakes, pushing buttons on the blender filled with yummy ingredients under my supervision, learning to mow with daddy, emptying the dishwasher… I could go on and on. Home ec. skills are life skills which establish habits that will make them great spouses and parents and responsible adults with healthy self-images. Instruction happens throughout the day in small bits. I have approximated this to be half an hour daily.

 

Second Hour

1 hour – Romanian (mother tongue). I speak with them in Romanian 90% of the time I am with them. I also read to them in Romanian. It adds up to more than one hour a day, but I keep it simple for recording purposes.

 

Third Hour

30 minutes – Recess. Why not? If they count it as school time in public schools, we can, too.

30 minutes – Reading with mommy. I read picture books and various readers to them. We worked our way through “Before Five in a Row” and SimplyCharlotteMason.com reading lists. Now we are working through “Books Children Love.” Sometimes I have my son read a page or a whole reader, depending on how motivated he feels that morning.

Fourth Hour

30 minutes – P.E. Every day, as long as it is over 46F and dry, my children spend time outside on their bikes or doing various ball activities with me or with each other. Today we played a bit of tennis, for instance. Catching, throwing, rolling, and bouncing a ball are important large motor skills. Some days they bike the Gatlinburg trail. Daddy and I run alongside them. It is four miles both ways and we do it in 70 minutes, including a five-minute break when we turn around at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Great cardio workout. When it’s warm, we go to the pool. Every other month, they take swim lessons.

30 minutes – The 3Rs, i.e. formal instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic. Ten minutes per subject is plenty for a five-year-old. A child’s attention span is their age in minutes plus one. So a three-year-old can focus for about four minutes and a five-year-old for about six minutes. I make sure I don’t push my son beyond his limits. We might take a break and talk about something (he always has a story to share) before we go on to the next concept. We will probably do fifteen minutes per subject in the second semester; by then, my son will be six.

 

Fifth Hour

30 minutes – Reading with daddy. This is a nightly routine which happens after supper and just before bedtime.

10 minutes – Music. I play classical music for them throughout the day, during meals, or in the car. If they are interested, I tell them it is Telemann or Handel or Mozart etc.

10 minutes – Arts & Crafts. They make cards for different events and people on a regular basis. They draw, cut and paste in their lapbooks. They decorate their bedroom according to their fancy with old ribbons and scotch tape. They paint. They draw with chalk in the driveway.

10 minutes – Science. Once a month, they take a class at Ripley’s Aquarium. Nature walks or simply being in the yard provide an opportunity for spotting insects and animals. We melt ice. We make popsicles. We grow butterflies out of caterpillars we mail ordered. We write in our nature journals. We learn to cook and can and garden.

10 minutes – Foreign Languages. I tell them things in French and Spanish every day. Simple things. “Thank you” or “here you are” or “please” or whatever simple phrase I may use in Romanian, I repeat it in French. Or Spanish. Or English. I find myself saying the same thing in three or four different ways. Sometimes I make them repeat it, but other times, if we are hard at play, I just say it and we move on. We also repeat the days of the week and the months of the year in several languages for our calendar activities.

As you can see, I easily come up with more than five hours of “instruction” per day. Which means that I can leave out certain activities based on what we have on our schedule as a family that particular day. Activities can carry over for recording purposes, too. It works out well. I told you homeschooling was a flexible endeavor.


Homeschooling and Multilingualism

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Before I say anything about the languages that I speak and teach to my children, let me make it clear that if I don’t have love (i.e. the genuine article, a.k.a. agape in Greek), I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal and who wants to do that for a living? Not me. Not in my home. Not in our homeschooling process.

If that gong and cymbal comparison sounds familiar, it’s because it is. I got it from a gentleman who spoke several languages himself and wrote a dozen small books which have been translated into many, many languages. I am referring, of course, to the Apostle Paul.

Comparing a loveless polyglot to a resounding gong is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1, to be precise. In this chapter, Paul talks about other accomplishments which mean very little in the absence of agape, but he starts out with multilingualism – a detail that has always resonated with me. Pun intended.

Having said all that, I must mention that am fluent in Romanian, French, and English. I have a good knowledge of Swedish, Spanish, Italian, and Latin. And I have basic knowledge of German, Norwegian and Portuguese. Here’s how…

I was born in Romania and lived there until I was 19. I took French in school (two hours a week, grades 5-12). I took English in school (two hours a week, grades 6-12). I also took Latin in the eighth grade. Two foreign languages plus Latin were mandatory subjects in Romania back then – not sure what they do now – but they did not have to be for me.

I have always loved languages and found it easy to learn words and grammar rules. Words to me are like toys to a child. I always want new ones.

Homeschooling and multilingualism

I majored in French and English at the University of Bucharest (UB). While there, I took Latin and Ancient French (Ancien Français) classes. It was incredibly helpful to see the evolution of French words from Roman times to the Middle Ages versus today.

Most people do not know that Romanian is a Romance language right along French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. We use the Roman alphabet, even though we are surrounded by nations who use the Cyrillic. So yes, I had some home advantage to all this language learning.

I learned Italian by watching Italian movies and TV – if you saw Michele Placido in La Piovra, you would, too – and by listening to Eros Ramazzotti’s music. It occurs to me that I have been a Ramazzotti fan since 1986 – almost three decades. His lyrics are deep poetry.

I learned Spanish on the go, during my lunch breaks in college, preparing for a mission trip to Ecuador in 1995. While there, immersion did the trick.

Swedish and Norwegian come from my three years of living in Sweden – I loved my Scandinavian period, especially the last year, when I lived in Stockholm. You might know this, Swedish vs. Norwegian is like British English vs. American English.

I took German classes here and there, from the TV, from conversation guides, from German friends. Swedish, Norwegian, German and English, of course, fall in the Germanic language family and the similarities help solidify new vocabulary.

Recently, I was watching an interview in Portuguese with English subtitles and I was relying heavily on reading the translation. At one point, I heard the words in Portuguese and the subtitles were delayed. I understood what was said and when the translation popped on the screen, it confirmed it. I tuned my ears and focused more. It was not hard to get it. I was very surprised, but I guess I should not be. Once you have most of the languages in one language family, it’s only a matter of imagination and fine tuning the endings of the words and some grammar rules.

My children are bilingual (Romanian and English) because daddy has always addressed them in English (he is American) and I have always talked to them in Romanian. I am working on adding French and Spanish to their repertoire. I sprinkle Latin here and there throughout the day, when I point out Latin roots of English words and how similar certain words are in many languages (e.g., rapid – English, rapid – Romanian, rápido – Spanish, rapide – French).

If my children went to “regular” school for seven hours a day, I would have very little time to expose them to other languages. That’s one of the big reasons why I chose to homeschool. Time. Time to pursue what we want, after we get basic academic skills out of the way.

For instance, the other day, we had to take a car trip right after breakfast to run an errand. We did our calendar and foreign language activities in the car. We said the days of the week and the months of the year in English, Romanian and French. Then, we counted to 20 in all three languages. I have written briefly about car schooling before.

That’s just another reason why I like homeschooling: learning happens everywhere you go, while you run errands and live your life together as a family, even when you are away from a desk. I linked to

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