Author Topic: Teaching a language I don't know  (Read 683 times)

Offline Jayne

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Teaching a language I don't know
« on: April 14, 2020, 06:19:11 PM »
Until the recent disruption to routine, I had been spending a lot of time babysitting my 3 year old grand-daughter.  I wanted to teach her German, since I know that is a good age to introduce a new language.  (Her mother, who was born in Germany and spoke German as a first language, had gotten in the habit of speaking English to her.)

The challenge has been that I do not know German.  I was able to incorporate this by making learning German something that we did together.  I was able to model being excited and interested in the language and was able to pass on a positive attitude toward it.

I found a site with teaching videos suitable for children: https://www.youtube.com/user/andreathionville
We also watched Peppa Pig dubbed into German and listened to German songs.  She was able to pick up quite a bit this way.  I was learning too, although much differently from how I would study on my own. 

I had been planning to take German classes at the nearby Saturday heritage language program.  We live fairly close to the largest one in Canada.  It has classes starting from kindergarten, which my granddaughter can attend, going up to adult classes suitable for me.  It is somewhat uncertain if it will be operating normally by September, so we will have to see.


Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 
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Offline Vetus Ordo

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2020, 06:04:00 PM »
Don't you speak Yiddish, Jayne?
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2020, 06:22:33 PM »
Don't you speak Yiddish, Jayne?

No, both my parents were born in Canada and were raised speaking English. I don't think either of them knew Yiddish.  I never heard either of them speak it, other than a handful of words.  I'm not even sure if my grandparents on my mother's side knew it. They spoke English with no accent.  (Well I suppose it was a Canadian accent but I don't hear those.) My paternal grandmother spoke Yiddish, but not to me.

I was given Hebrew lessons as a child, but nobody seemed interested in passing on Yiddish.  If I had learned it, then German would be extremely easy to pick up since they are so closely related.  Even my knowledge of English is a huge help with its close (but not as close as Yiddish) relationship to German. 
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2020, 04:44:17 PM »
Personally I don't you have the right to teach a child something if she isn't yours. Secondly, since you don't know German nor pedagogy, maybe it's best to leave well enough alone. Third, and most paradoxically, a young'un prior to the age of reason in Canada should be learning French and English. German and Latin in middle school on up are good for intellectual cross fit and practical grammar inculcations, but learning German naturally as a child from a non parent non native non knower in a nowhere nears the European diaspora is a waste of time and possibly damaging to the child's speech progression. Just my .02 Pfennigs.
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
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Offline Fleur-de-Lys

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2020, 04:58:49 PM »
While there is some truth to this:

[…] learning German naturally as a child from a non parent non native non knower in a nowhere nears the European diaspora is a waste of time

this is not supported by research:

Quote
and possibly damaging to the child's speech progression.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2020, 05:13:37 PM »
Her parents wanted me to teach her German.  They had decided to send her to the weekly German class next fall when she is old enough.  Many of her classmates will be from German speaking homes so it will be helpful for her to have more language exposure before starting.  Her mother has a full time job, so I have more time for doing German activities with her.

My undergrad degree was in linguistics and I did several courses involving language acquisition so I know a bit about pedagogy.

The parents are planning to send her to the local school which has a French immersion program so there is no reason for me to teach her French.  She is precocious in her English ability, already beginning reading and writing at 3, so that does not seem to be a need either.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 
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Offline Fleur-de-Lys

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2020, 05:34:44 PM »
To elaborate on my previous comment: While some studies have indicated that babies will not accept non-native input in their first language, in school young children commonly learn second languages from non-native teachers. I'm not sure how relevant that is to Jayne's case, since it sounds like she is using native sources of input, namely songs and videos, as primary sources of the language for her granddaughter. I don't know how much progress she will be able to make under these circumstances, but if they are both enjoying it, why not? Research does not support the idea that exposure to multiple languages at an early age interferes with acquisition, quite the contrary.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2020, 06:26:51 PM »
To elaborate on my previous comment: While some studies have indicated that babies will not accept non-native input in their first language, in school young children commonly learn second languages from non-native teachers. I'm not sure how relevant that is to Jayne's case, since it sounds like she is using native sources of input, namely songs and videos, as primary sources of the language for her granddaughter. I don't know how much progress she will be able to make under these circumstances, but if they are both enjoying it, why not? Research does not support the idea that exposure to multiple languages at an early age interferes with acquisition, quite the contrary.

I have made a point to avoid speaking German to her since I am unable to provide correct phonological models.  We listen together to native speakers.  Not surprisingly, she is already better at producing phonemes than I am. 

It is highly unlikely that the German "lessons" that she has been doing with me would be enough to make her fluent or even close.  My hope is that once she learns a bit with me, her mother will start doing more German with her.  My daughter-in-law has gotten in the habit of speaking English to her, in spite of wanting her to learn German.  They need to spend time every day speaking German to each other, if my grand-daughter is going to become fluent. 
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Offline queen.saints

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2020, 10:17:38 AM »
From what I’ve heard from friends trying to teach their kids multiple languages, it’s a pretty tricky situation, just like everything having to do with developing young souls. It’s not a simple issue and there are different schools of thought. Most of them do agree, however, on two things: 1) if done wrong it can have very negative side-effects that may be irreparable; 2) the more languages you add the more complicated the issues become.

As one example, I know a woman who’s parents were diplomats for the EU, so they had her learn the language of each country where they were stationed. She’s been fluent in 7 languages pretty much her whole life and is proficient in many more, but she said that it’s actually very difficult to live with, because she doesn’t know any one language inside and out the way she would if she’d grown up speaking one language. She constantly feels insecure in her understanding of words in her own thoughts and when speaking.

Another family I know are teaching their kids French, German, and English, and the German is the hardest even though one parent only speaks to them in German. They do worry quite a bit if they are doing the right thing and it seems like everyone they know is doing it differently and has different opinions on what’s best.

Another thing is that you always hear that learning languages is so good for your brain, start young etc. but you never hear that learning a new language is an extremely emotional and destabilizing experience. It’s hard for most adults to handle the emotions that come with it, and when you’re a young child whose arguably most important need is stability, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

And then after all that, if you don’t practice the language regularly, you’ll lose so much of it, even in your native tongue. So, then you’ve sacrificed the comfort and stability of only knowing one language and gotten very little in exchange.


That being said, the fact that your lessons with your granddaughter would be low-key and not expected to make her fluent or anything followed by her learning more seriously with her mother might be a perfect setup in terms of not causing an upheaval for her.
 
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2020, 11:02:06 AM »
From what I’ve heard from friends trying to teach their kids multiple languages, it’s a pretty tricky situation, just like everything having to do with developing young souls. It’s not a simple issue and there are different schools of thought. Most of them do agree, however, on two things: 1) if done wrong it can have very negative side-effects that may be irreparable; 2) the more languages you add the more complicated the issues become.

As one example, I know a woman who’s parents were diplomats for the EU, so they had her learn the language of each country where they were stationed. She’s been fluent in 7 languages pretty much her whole life and is proficient in many more, but she said that it’s actually very difficult to live with, because she doesn’t know any one language inside and out the way she would if she’d grown up speaking one language. She constantly feels insecure in her understanding of words in her own thoughts and when speaking.

Another family I know are teaching their kids French, German, and English, and the German is the hardest even though one parent only speaks to them in German. They do worry quite a bit if they are doing the right thing and it seems like everyone they know is doing it differently and has different opinions on what’s best.

Another thing is that you always hear that learning languages is so good for your brain, start young etc. but you never hear that learning a new language is an extremely emotional and destabilizing experience. It’s hard for most adults to handle the emotions that come with it, and when you’re a young child whose arguably most important need is stability, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

And then after all that, if you don’t practice the language regularly, you’ll lose so much of it, even in your native tongue. So, then you’ve sacrificed the comfort and stability of only knowing one language and gotten very little in exchange.


That being said, the fact that your lessons with your granddaughter would be low-key and not expected to make her fluent or anything followed by her learning more seriously with her mother might be a perfect setup in terms of not causing an upheaval for her.

Alas, go for it, Jayne. With a grandmother like you, it's a sure fire to make your granddaughter an Übermensch like yourself.
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 

Offline Gardener

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2020, 01:56:32 PM »
+10 points for including 99 Luftballons in the curriculum.

Original:


Goldfinger's English/German cover (he swaps to German in the last verse. Very invigorating).
Skip to 2:28 for German

I actually had that whole album on vinyl. Nena's other songs are nice too. Very 80's, though.
 
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2020, 02:03:07 PM »
Hier sind tolle Texte zum Lernen. Die Gruppe heißt Kraftwerk, "Power Station" auf Englisch.

My favorite group in high school freshman (German 1) year for a week.

Texte dazu:

Sie ist ein Modell und sie sieht gut aus
Ich nähme sie heut' gerne mit zu mir nach Haus
Sie wirkt so kühl, an sie kommt niemand 'ran
Doch vor der Kamera, da zeigt sie was sie kann

Sie trinkt in Nachtklubs immer Sekt (korrekt)
Und hat hier alle Männer abgecheckt
Im Scheinwerferlicht ihr junges Lächeln strahlt
Sie sieht gut aus, und Schönheit wird bezahlt

Sie stellt sich zu Schau für das Konsumprodukt
Und wird von millionen Augen angekuckt
Ihr neues Titelbild ist einfach Fabelhaft
Ich muss sie wiedersehen, ich weiss sie hat's geschafft


 
« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 02:14:05 PM by Heinrich »
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2020, 01:21:06 PM »
Alas, go for it, Jayne. With a grandmother like you, it's a sure fire to make your granddaughter an Übermensch like yourself.

All of my grandchildren are remarkable, even the ones who don't speak German. 

Number 10 is due to be born in September, so we have reached double digits.  My plan to take over the gene pool is progressing nicely.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2020, 01:26:22 PM »
+10 points for including 99 Luftballons in the curriculum.

I remember that the English version was a popular song at one point, but all those decades blur together so I am not sure exactly when.  I think it would be fun to listen to it in German at some point.  Currently our favourite German song is probably this one:

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Offline red solo cup

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Re: Teaching a language I don't know
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2020, 07:11:37 AM »
"It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry"
 
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