Friday, July 14, 2006

Foreign languages

This is our good friend Poppy. She's a little shy, but when we can coax her to come out and play, she sings with us.

Poppy has been helping me teach the girls German this year. I'm no expert, so I'm glad to have her help. I took three semesters of German in college, but that was years ago. I'm so rusty and out of practice, that I wasn't sure I should even attempt to try to teach it to my kids. That perfectionsim held me back until this year when I finally realized that it was okay if I didn't get the grammar quite right. If I messed up the gender or verb tense, my kids would live through it.

I'm not here to be the expert. My kids don't have to walk away from their childhood with a perfect and fluent grasp of a foreign language. There is no test. This isn't about being perfect. The way I see it, it's about making different sounds with our voices. It's about listening to those sounds, adjusting our senses, and having fun with it. Yes. Having fun. Isn't that what learning is all about?

Once I stopped trying to get it just right, Poppy and I ran with it. So far (and forgive my lack of umlaut-making, etc.) we have learned:

"Where is Thumbkin?" or "Wo ist der Daumen?"
(alternating an English version with one in Deutche)

Where is Thumbkin, where is Thumbkin?
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you today, Thumbkin?
Very well, I thank you.
Goodbye. Goodbye.

Wo ist der Daumen, wo ist der Daumen?
Ich bin hier. Ich bin hier.
Guten Tag wie geht's du?
Danke schon, mir geht's gut.
Auf Wiedersehen. Auf Wiedersehen.

And then a song Poppy made up to teach the girls Deutche, and in turn, they sing it in English to teach her English (she convieniently only speaks Deutche.) At the end of each verse Poppy pops back into her cone.

Poppy's Song
Hallo, hallo, hallo mein freund

Hallo mein freund wie heiBt du?
Wie gehts, wie gehts, wie gehts mein freund?
Auf Wiedersehen! Bis bald!

Hello, hello, hello my friend.
Hello my friend. What's your name?
How are, how are, how are you friend?
Goodbye. See you soon.
For Christmas (and beyond) we sang O'Tannenbaum. Mary Thienes-Schunemann does a lovely job with this song in The Christmas Star, a book of Christmas carols from the Naturally You Can Sing series. There is at least one other German carol in the book, but we haven't tackled that one yet.

More recently I picked up a copy of Teach Me... German, booklet and cd, and so far Poppy has taught us to sing Bruder Jakob, which has fast become a family favorite. Sunburst even tries to play it by ear on the piano.

There are also plenty of German songs/poems for kids on the web HERE and HERE.

In the Fall I'm hoping to introduce a bit of Spanish into the mix, maybe crafting a companero for Poppy. I only took one semester of that in college, so I had better get cracking.

**To create your own Poppy doll, check out the punch-in-cup pattern from Making Dolls by Sunnhild Reinckens.

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