For the most part it is assumed that we live and breathe Spanish here in Peru. And we DO speak a lot of Spanish. But just because everyone else around here speaks Spanish does not equate automatic fluency for everyone in my family. Since we spend a lot of time at home speaking and schooling in English, our kids actually still have to work somewhat at perfecting their Spanish. Can you even believe that?! I know. It doesn't seem like it would be that way. But it is.
It is oh so important for daily functioning, for relationships, for ministry, that everyone in our family learn Spanish by heart. It's part of living well in the world where God has us. It's part of being useful. And it's part of developing the Knowledge of Man that CM talks fondly about.
So. As most curriculums that teach Spanish are intended for English speakers that are starting out knowing very little to no Spanish at all, and almost ALL are for older students incorporating reading AND writing early on, we have had some difficulty in the past pulling together a plan for Spanish study. Some time ago, when I first heard about Gouin's method via CM's series, it didn't sink in at all. It was another thing that was going to have to wait. I read about it again some time later over at Tammy's place (She has some really great posts, my favorite is here). However, at that point in time, I still held on to the idea that my kids would simply soak in spotless Spanish by living in close proximity to Spanish speakers :) The truth is, my kids all speak okay Spanish... but, in order for my kids to speak Spanish well (and be able to use it formally someday), they still have to study. But then again the question of curriculum comes up.
Something had to be done.
I had given up on the idea of finding something that was going to work perfectly for all of us. Our case is just not typical. Rosetta Stone is a great program. I have it and I like it. But it's not very in line with CM's theory of EAR FIRST (that's the way young children learn fluency in language - from their parents - just by listening!). On the other hand, Rosetta Stone relies heavily on reading (and typing) text from the very first lesson. According to the nature of things and CM's theory ala Gouin, reading/writing portion of language learning doesn't come in until much later. If it were possible to take away the reading/writing element from RS (& other curriculums) and still progress through, it might be a really great option. But even then, my kids know WAY too much to start them off at the basic level, so how would I figure out where to start them??
"Address the ear, then, first of all and principally. Afterwards take as auxiliaries the eye and the hand in reading and in writing. The ear is the prime minister of the intelligence" Gouin, Art of Teaching and Studying Languages, page 139.What I needed was a completely customizable curriculum, that could be used for multi-level and multi-age groups! That is a tall order, but it's filled by none other than Charlotte Mason ala Gouin! Oh yeah!
Here's one summary of the Gouin method, check it out...
"Having a child learn a short sentence that describes his own actions, or the activity in a vivid picture, can help in mastering verbs. Indeed, this is similar to methods used in teaching reading at the preschool level today. Focus on high frequency words, and stick to just one form of the verb at first. The child will learn to conjugate as he encounters the verb in different contexts. Continue reading at Raising a bilingual child in Montreal - Montreal Parenting & Education | Examiner.com
An example of a Gouin lesson:I walk towards the door. "Yo camino hacia a la puerta."
I draw near to the door. "Yo me acerco a la puerta."
I draw nearer to the door. "Yo me acerco más y más a la puerta."
I get to the door. "Yo llego a la puerta."
I stop at the door. "Yo pauso antes de la puerta."
I touch the door. "Yo toco a la puerta."
I push on the door. "Yo empujo la puerta."
I open the door. "Yo abro la puerta."
The door moves. "La puerta se mueve."
The door turns on its hinges. "La puerta se abre."
The door turns and turns. "La puerta está abierta."
I let go of the handle. "Yo dejo de empujar la puerta."
I walk out the door. "Yo salgo por la puerta."
So, I'm finally seeing this in concrete reality for our homeschool. It's so easy to implement anytime, anywhere with my kiddos that I hardly need a plan! AND as my husband and I are both semi-fluent, we can both do the lessons! I'm all over delegating! ;)
When introducing our third language (soon! this year?), I plan to try to use The Easy French audio since I don't speak a lick of French and I already own the curriculum. I'll have to adapt it by attempting to use the audio without the written portion of the curriculum. This will be a different story since I know next to nothing. I will definitely need a plan. We shall see how that goes. There's SO much out there for free and we have friends who speak French! How can we go wrong?? I'll have to let you know. :)
6 new words each day (introduced through the exercises above and then incorporated throughout the day).
2-3 Spanish audio stories/poems/fairy tales per week w/ narration.
Total immersion when at all possible (spending a minimum of an hour a day w/ friends should do the trick).
Reading aloud from the Bible in Spanish with narrations.
Resources I found helpful in my research...
Parent's Review articles on Foreign Language:
The Teaching of French
Notes of Lessons - A French Lesson
On the Teaching of Modern Languages
When and How to Teach Modern Languages
How to learn a language
From the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Series:
Language.––In Language, by twelve, they should have a fair knowledge of English grammar, and should have read some literature. They should have more or less power in speaking and understanding French, and should be able to read a fairly easy French book; the same with German, but considerably less progress; and in Latin, they should be reading 'Fables,' if not 'Cæsar,' and perhaps 'Virgil.' vol 3 pg 236
French should be acquired as English is, not as a grammar, but as a living speech. To train the ear to distinguish and the lips to produce the French vocables is a valuable part of the education of the senses, and one which can hardly be undertaken too soon. Again, all educated persons should be able to speak French.
CM records Goethe describing a language experience of his.
"But now it seems necessary to set forth more circumstantially and to explain how, in the midst of such events, I got hold of French, more or less easily, though I had not learned it. My inborn gifts came to my aid, so that I easily grasped the sound and ring of a language; the movements, accent, tone, and other external peculiarities. Many words were familiar from my knowledge of Latin, Italian helped still more, and in a short time I heard so much from servants and soldiers, sentries and visitors, that though I could not start a conversation, I could at least understand questions and answers." But he tells us that all this was nothing compared with the help which the theatre brought him. His grandfather had given him a free pass, and every day found him there, against the will of his father, but with the connivance of his mother. At first his entertainment consisted only in catching the accent and watching the gestures of the players. Then he found a volume of Racine at home, and hit upon the plan of learning long speeches by heart and delivering these, so far as he could, as he had heard them, though without understanding their drift.
And now he made a friend––a nice boy connected with the theatre. The two became inseparable companions, for in the dearth of boy companionship the stranger managed to understand young Goethe's French, and by aid of familiar intercourse with him 'the Boy' made progress that surprised his friend. The two haunted the theatre, and presently found their way into what served as a greenroom, where Goethe saw (hardly comprehending much) what he described as taking place in the scratch company whose doings he chronicles in Wilhem Meister. He and his friend discussed many things, and "in four weeks (I) learned more than could have been imagined; so that no one knew how I suddenly, as if by inspiration, had acquired a foreign language."
Possibly, when the entente cordiale has become acclimatised, let us say, children belonging to the two countries may come to visit each other's families, and more French may yet be learned in a month from the companionship of a nice French boy than the best master in the world would succeed in teaching in a year. The desire to communicate with each other would doubtless bring about the power. v5 p330-31
Gouin Language Resources
I'm currently reading Francois Gouin's - Art of Teaching and Studying Languages. I'll have to report back when I'm finished. I'm finding it VERY enjoyable. :)
First Lesson in French by Gouin
Series of articles by The Easy French on CM and Gouin.
CM and Gouin - a homeschool mom's assessment
Using the Gouin Series to teach language (intro to Gouin): watch the youtube here.
Gouin exercises for teachers of older students - watch the youtube here.
An Art Lesson in Spanish on youtube.
Free Spanish Audio Online:
Plaza Sesamo on youtube (Sesame Street in Spanish) - see sidebar for related videos
List of Salsa episodes - (similar to Sesame Street) - Georgia Public Broadcasting (pdf teacher helps available for every episode)
Great thread on French Lessons and Resources on the AO yahoo list, found here.
Narration... in French or Spanish, hard?! by yours truly. A post about narrating in a foreign language.