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HINTS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING - Guest Post

I started to learn French when I was 19 - self-directed learning but with a correspondence course. However, the way the course was structured didn't suit me. It started out too slow and gained momentum too quickly and I got left behind. I tried learning a bit more over the years, but alas no success. I think, like many adult learners, I expected too much of myself, and concentrated too much on written language.

About 10 years ago I started to learn German, but that also got too hard for me. So I stopped and gave myself permission to NOT be a language learner. It was obviously too hard for me despite having a very good programme I was using.

I think it's important to love the sound of the language you're learning - and when I was re-watching this classic scene from the movie 'Green Card' (for the 57th time ...) I KNEW that I had to learn more French. I love the sound, I love the feel and my accent isn't too bad either. Not TOO bad ...

So, using the Michel Thomas method (which I had used for German, and I enjoyed the way it was taught), I started French again!

It was then that I realised I'd actually learned a lot more German language than I'd thought! The Michel Thomas method is heavily verbal - much like a child learning a native language. And the phrases tend to have words in them that will be used in every day language. So when the question was "How do you say: 'I'm sorry but I can't find it'?"

My brain said " Es tut mir leid, aber ich kann es nicht finden." The German phrase had jumped straight into my head!!!

I HAD been absorbing the learning! I HAD done OK!!

But now my poor brain needs to move those German phrases over, and try to absorb the French instead!

The topic of learning another language came up on a FB page. The comment on the post by Erin Parkinson was so outstanding and helpful that I've asked her permission to pass it on to my readers via my blog.

I'm not a natural at learning languages so I'm going to take some of Erin's advice and hopefully I'll gain a few more useful phrases in my vocabulary apart from greeting the children in the morning with: "Bonjour mon/ma cheri/cherie!".

I'd like to add something to Erin's list - often on children's DVDs there is a language option at the start. Let your children pick and choose to hear some different languages.

And the other thing - where Erin has suggested learning some phrases that you use all the time - I'd have to say that two of the most commonly used phrases here seem to be "I'm hungry" and "May I have ..." So I'm going to look those up and get my ever-hungry child to use the French words for those phrases!!

And to expand on her idea for using Youtube - we've found that learning traditional folk songs, or children's songs helps so much. Here's a link to my 5 year old's favourite French song.

And here's another link for a song the children liked in German.

I'll pass you over to Erin Parkinson now:

Aim to cover the following things: Greetings Numbers How many? How old are you? Animals I can see ... Can you see ...? Colours Adjectives "and"

For each of these - find videos on YouTube or a native speaker to teach you how to say each thing.

Write down the pronunciation AND the correct spelling in a book for you (not for your child). Use them all the time. Practice daily.

Don't keep the words you are learning as just words - use them in sentences. Mix English and the other language if you have to - as you get better you'll be able to insert more foreign words.

Greetings: hello, goodbye, my name is, what is your name, how are you, I'm good, I'm bad, I'm tired, I'm cold, please, thankyou, yes, no.

Say things every day ... "Hello! How are you?"

Numbers - up to 10 to start with. Now you can practice counting. Count soft toys, count plates on the table, count M&Ms. Ask "how many?"

Find out how to ask "how old are you" and how to reply. If the reply seems too difficult then just stick with the question and then replying with the numbers you've learned. Give an age to all the soft toys and have them "answer" as well.

Now for animals ... we teach animal names to babies so fast because they love animals. And five year olds still do as well. Just stick with a few - the common "around the house" ones like cat, dog, bird, snail and then either some farm animals or some wild ones (do you live near farms or a zoo or do you have toys that represent one or the other?).

Now you can count animals. Two sheep. Three dogs. Check with a native speaker about plurals. If it's not hard (or no different) then that's great. If it is ... just leave it for now. You can adjust it later - just like toddlers don't quite get it right when they start.

Add "I can see" and "Can you see" and you've got some amazing sentences already!

Look at what you and your child can manage to say already:

Hello. How are you? I'm good. Can you see two dogs? I can see three horses. Goodbye!

Colours. Again - just the most common colours. Practice them around the house.

Use YouTube.

Draw with crayons only speaking in that language.

Now for adjectives (and this goes for colours as well) ... make sure you ask a native speaker or check youtube for where to put the adjective. A lot of foreign languages place it AFTER the noun not before it. So instead of "a red dog" it becomes "a dog red". Once you've sorted that you will have SO MANY things to say!!

Hello Hello How are you? I'm good. How are you? I'm cold. Can you see four white birds? Yes. I can see four white birds and two blue sheep and ten brown cats. Goodbye. Goodbye!

(Two blue sheep? What use is that?? Well, five year olds find it hilarious and the funnier something is, the more they'll practice it, and the more they'll learn).

Keep learning like that and revising. Add food and some food questions and statements (I like, I don't like, do you want...?)

Add "Where is the" and places in the house.

Add "I have" and members of the family.

And order baby books/really simple picture books in the language - you can change the language setting on bookdepository and find books in other languages.

 

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