Search This Blog

Monday, April 16, 2012

Learning Spanish by Heart

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 | 

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.
v1 p300-7
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

Helpful Links:
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:
Cody's Cuentos (MY FAVORITE!) - FairyTales in Basic, Intermediate and Advanced (transcripts available) A great fingerplay to start with with hand motions can be found here: Dedo Pulgarcito (Hello Thumbkin)
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.


Queen of Carrots said...

I love the Gouin series idea, but unfortunately I'm not fluent enough to implement it myself. (Although sometimes I try to fake it with Google translate.) I'm kind of intrigued by the Easy Spanish but wonder if it would start to slow for kids who already have several years of Spanish videos and picture books and songs, although, alas, no Spanish-speaking friends to play with.

North Laurel said...

Thanks for the Gouin links and all of the others for free Spanish online. We aren't doing Spanish -yet- but it is on my list. We're working on Latin. My kids wanted something way different but now they know that Latin is quite similar to Spanish. Perhaps it will be easier to pick up :)
Great post, as usual ;)

Silvia Cachia said...

Oh, Amy. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I had to do the same... I am catching up with yours.

I read about your loss. I am very sorry about it. I grief with you and I rejoice with you... speaking of which, I love seeing your amazing family. They have grown so much!

Un abrazo, Amy. Cuídate. Rezamos por tí y tu familia.

Kathy L said...

With a little study, I could do Gouin in Spanish, I think.  That's just because I have some basic Spanish background and can pronounce the words and use a verb dictionary.  lol  But in French, I'm toast.  I can't pronounce the words and wouldn't know how to create the exercises at all.

I have an older copy of The Easy Spanish, which I really wanted to like, but in fact we didn't care for it at all.  I don't know if the current versions are the same or not, but it wasn't what I was hoping for.

With my oldest, we currently use Barry Farber's "Teach Yourself a Foreign Language" as a guide and create our own curriculum for Spanish.  We do use Pimsleur, which is all oral but a bit dry.  "Learning Spanish Like Crazy" is also all oral but moves faster, is not geared to business, and has more "hip" vocabulary.  Both of those can be purchased in 8-lesson introductory versions for less than $20, and Pimsleur I know can even be purchased as a download.

My next child wants to do French, but we are moving very slowly both because she isn't really ready yet and because I don't know any French.  lol  I bought L'Art de Dire, but it has been less than successful too (although partly that's because dd just isn't ready for a foreign language yet).

Penny Rogers said...

This is a great post and so informative!  I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one who struggles with teaching a foreign language

amyinperu said...

@Queen of Carrots,
I had thought too, that using Gouin's Series for language is REALLY ideal for already fluent teachers.

However, I've read of several people implementing lessons that are NOT fluent. It will require more work. But it doesn't have to be super difficult. The main thing is to use simple phrases (accompanied by actions) that use the same pronoun and different verb. For example, an exercise while making a sandwich could be, "Yo saco el pan. Yo preparo el pan con mayonesa. Yo pongo jamón en el pan. Yo pongo tomate en el pan. Yo pongo sal y pimienta en el sandwich. Yo como el sandwich con jamón y tomate." You can then change the exercise by changing the pronoun and verb thus, "Tu sacas el pan. Tu preparas el pan con mayonesa. Tu pones..." 

Obviously, to a native speaker, this sounds very much like an exercise not like normal speech. But the important part is that they get used to the pronoun verb combination by hearing while associating those words with their real ideas not the written word.

For moms, we would have to study some basic vocab. But for this exercise I only used Yo, 4 verbs (sacar, preparar, poner y comer), and 7 different nouns (pan, mayonesa, jamón, tomate, sal, pimienta y sandwich). That would only take a little time, and the words can be re-used in different exercises. It's especially easy by just changing the pronouns. That'd make for 5 lessons! :) Yo, Tu, El o Ella, Nosotros y Ellos. Plus you could use those naming words whenever you come across them whether it's lesson time or not! ;)

One of these days, I'll have to post some of our Spanish lessons to share! ;)
I will begin to feel your pain soon, as we approach teaching French!! ;)

PS. The immersion hour with friends is MY goal. I realize that's not realistic for everyone, but I know there are more and more Spanish speaking people in the US... people who live in bigger cities shouldn't find it too difficult to find a Spanish family to adopt ;)

TL Glaser said...

My dh grew up in El Salvador in an English speaking family. They were in Spanish parochial schools, so their problem was making sure they learned English. The family rule was to speak only English at meal times. LOL None took formal English until they went to college! They figured out how to read English on their own by applying the Spanish phonics they already knew to English. It really is amazing how they managed to do so well. I think nearly all had to take remedial English in college!

I share your frustration when it comes to curricula. Nothing seems to fit, even some that claim to be Mason or Gouin. Thanks for the links. I'm looking forward to checking them out!

Jen Snow said...

I have not posted a comment here before, but I have been following your blog for sometime now.  We are also a Charlotte Mason home-educating missionary family.  We were previously in a country where English was widely spoken, but are now in a year of intensive French language study (for hubby and I) in preparation for a new assignment in West Africa.   Anyhow, I have thought long and hard about the best ways to expose my young children (6, 3.5, and 2) to French as I haven't really cared much for any of the "curriculums' I have encountered as well (We didn't like The Easy French Jr at all and I agree with you that Rosetta Stone is terribly appropriate for young children)...or what to do later on when we are all speaking well enough to do more formal grammar/written work.  My 6yo is using The Learnables right now which we don't LOVE, but it is easy to implement and doesn't include writing or reading in the basic level.  Otherwise we just read French picture books to them and watch French videos.   I REALLY appreciated this post and all the links you shared as this gives me some direction to think about where we should go from here.  I have read a bit about Gouin from the CM books, but hadn't really found anymore detailed information about how to use a Gouin series.  I have a lower-end conversational ability in French already, so it would actually be a good exercise for me too to work out some sequences to use in our home and increase the exposure the kids are getting.     Thanks again for posting.   

Charlottemasoninthecity said...

I am loving this post because my kids are learning Spanish, too. We live in a neighborhood with many Spanish speakers. I am very lucky to have a teacher for my kids who not only is a native Spanish speaker, but also a Charlotte Mason homeschooling mom as well. We love her! I like reading your goals because they are so similar to mine. Our teacher has the kids memorize Bible verses in Spanish. It's very difficult for them to do, but we've noticed that after some practice doing that (a lot of practice, actually), their fluency is increasing quite a bit. The Bible verses are giving them exposure and experience with the language beyond what exercises in a book can do. Also, the teacher has recently started reading a novel aloud to the kids in Spanish, and they narrate to her in a mix of Spanish and English (with the goal of narrating completely in Spanish). 

Kathy Livingston said...

We have an old copy of The Easy Spanish, and I don't care for it at all.  Not what I was hoping for, but it's possible the content has since changed.

Amy, Lorraine has recommended Verberrator before:

We bought the inexpensive 8-lesson CD from Learning Spanish Like Crazy (which I think makes the Verberrator too).  I liked the first lesson, but it went too fast for dd.  I think it might be just right for your kids, though.  The guy who does those also sends out emails with tips about various country-specific vocabulary, common mistakes, colloquialisms, and that sort of thing.

amyinperu said...

I do think Easy French (which I assume to be similar to Easy Spanish), would have to be modified to fit each family where they're at in their language progression as well as to be more CM friendly. Still, I think it can be a great starting point. I do like the audio portion... I have yet to finish reading Gouin's book in its entirety to form a complete opinion though.
Personally, I'm pretty excited about making our own 'Gouin-style' lessons. :) I'll see how it goes using that curriculum as a jump board for French... I'll be continuing to accumulate many more resources as well.
As always your contribution is appreciated! :)

amyinperu said...

I REALLY think this is GREAT! Memorization. Do your kids have an audio recording of the passage to be memorized? I know that hearing it well-spoken over and over would be a huge help!

That is truly amazing that they are listening to a novel in Spanish! Inspiring! How long have your kids been exposed to Spanish? Most parents would think this is impossible! and narrating?! awesome.

amyinperu said...

Tammy, thanks for stopping by! Your husband's story should really be an inspiration to many. Surely, he was/is gifted, but STILL. The mealtime example is super! :) Learning a language certainly takes much discipline and will power!

amyinperu said...

PS. Make sure you share any new resources you find! pretty please?!

Amy Tuttle said...

 Yep, that's just it Kathy. I think with a little study and prep (and free resources from the world wide web), we all could do Gouin lessons. :) But we all also have a billion things on our plates already and we all have to constantly decide which things we will give priority to. That's normal. In my experience, the third language can often get placed on the back burner; rightfully so in most cases, probably.

We're probably tied in our knowledge of French. ;) I'll have to teach it with a LOT of 'study'... but I really think it's worth it, so I plan to move forward, Lord willing!

You've mentioned Farber's book before and I'd really like to look at it. Kind of difficult to get my hands on it down here though.  And after reading Gouin's book, I kinda doubt anything will measure up! After several hit and miss buys I just don't want to buy anything more. With Gouin's method, free audio resources online, and a good dose of discipline, I think we'll do alright. :)

Amy Tuttle said...

 Good to hear from you, Jen! :)  I thought exactly the same thing with the Gouin lessons being GREAT for the teacher who is also learning as well! I think after a certain level we can begin to add in the harder tenses too... the possibilities are endless! ;)

I do think listening as much as possible is SUPERB and I love Sesame Street in Spanish and other audio resources like Cody's Cuentos that I already mentioned/linked to above.

ellieeugenia said...

This is so very helpful! Thank you.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Blog Archive