Tuesday, June 16, 2009

keeping up english skills

We get by with a little help from our friends. This photo has nothing to do with English skills. I just like it.

We sent the first month's rent and deposit to Spain. J is buying the airplane tickets right now. We already have someone interested in renting our house. Wow! Looks like this is really going to happen.

I know there are some homeschooler and teacher friends who read this blog. I need suggestions for good ways to build/maintain my children's English skills while we're in Spain. Any workbooks, guides, etc. that have worked well for you? Georgie is going into 9th grade, but the English class she was going to start this September looked like college stuff to me. Lidia is an advanced 6th grader. Marcus and Bernie are starting 4th and 2nd. I am not as concerned about having extra materials for the younger two because I think we'll focus mainly on reading in English.


Anonymous said...

I've never been able to get my kids to speak English with me so I'm out. I would suggest you get material there since most material here in Holland anyway is for second language learners not m1 learners.

Also, most of the English here is British English so expect some strange words.

I have a number of classics for younger readers I can send you but they are easy to find here - not sure about Spain though.

Ave said...

That looks dangerous, the picture I mean.

Ballerina Girl said...

How fun! Congrats on your big move!
We have lived overseas for almost 7 years now, and we chose to put our kids in the International schools.
I think it is a big change to switch to a local school, but hopefully your kids have a good basic knowledge of Spanish. When they are younger it is easier to incorporate them into a school and language they do not know...but when they are older it is a different story.

I do not know much about home schooling...I hope that you can find someone who can help you!

Anonymous said...

The Dutch have English immersion schools here and a lot of ex-pats choose that instead of the international school. They get English and Dutch and local kids go to it where the international school has no Dutch and no local kids go there. They also have a bigger turnover. It would be great if you could find one in your area. They would get both languages and make friends in the area.

Mama Ava said...

Will you speak English at home? Since they'll be getting full-on Spanish at school, speak English at home. That's what experts recommend for our kids at our school who are native Chinese speakers.

Georgie is probably OK. Your others, though, need to continue to develop their English to be academically proficient, and just speaking doesn't usually do that. If they would want to attend US colleges they need to be able to learn in English to be academically proficient. The Korean and some Chinese families have their kids take additional classes that basically repeat their school lessons, but in their mother tongue. So they take Korean math and writing and science, etc. You may need to create opportunities where the kids are using English in an academic way in order to continue to develop their skills.

Your younger kids will definitely pick up some hinky phrases and words from kids who aren't native speakers. Ava often comes up with some funny ones--the hardest one to break was "Even I..." as in "Even I like ice cream" meaning "I like ice cream, too." It's a Swahili construction that all the kids who were learning English as their 3rd language used.

Calandria said...

We considered sending them to a Brit school of which there are many of in that area of Spain. However, almost everyone we talked to advised against it because those children don't learn Spanish as well. Also, it would be too expensive for us to send all four kiddos to private school. The public schools in that area are supposed to be very good, highly recommended by Spaniards and other Europeans we talked with--many who could afford to send their kids to private don't.

I'm thinking along the lines of a weekly Saturday morning English homeschool class.

Karen ~ said...

The benefits of living in another land and gaining the rich cultural insight far outweigh any slight decline in academic English skills. There are always tutors or review classes and your kids are all smart - I would not stress about it AT ALL! The world view and international experience you are giving them will impress college entrance people. And if you are still in Europe as they reach college age, they may go there, anyway. You have enough to think about right now with just getting over there!

(and I am still envious!)

Anonymous said...

I agree that Spanish schools will probably be better then the private ones. Its a shame there are no immersion schools in the area. They really work out well with combining both languages. I wouldn't worry about school to much. As Karen says they are smart kids and it will work out.
I don’t think living in a foreign country for an indefinite time is good but for a few years I think its great. Especially since your keen on integrating and know the language already. Most ex-pats and military are not, the idiots completely miss out on the whole experience. However I find many kids who have spent most of their developmental years in foreign countries have identity problems later on.

Ballerina Girl said...

First of all, I am sorry. I didn't meant to suggest that you will have problems with the local schools. It is quite a great experience that you are offering your children. They will learn so much just from living in another country, plus you are giving them the added benefit of immersion.
I have been an expat now for many years, and in this course, have met many wonderful expats and their children that do not have any identity problems! Every child, everyone's personal experiences are different.
Many of us are not idiots and truly do try to experience a native culture in our own ways. Some people handle it better than others and we al have to learn acceptance and patience. I take each expat and each native for what they are ....not what they are not doing or experiencing from living in another country.

Again, good luck and I will look forward to your many adventures! Yo hablo espanol...si me necesitas, estoy aqui para ti :)


Anonymous said...

My teaching foreign languages teacher told me it's most important to keep the language up through puberty, which means Georgie will probably be okay, but your others you'll need to focus on. There's just something that clicks during puberty that changes the left side of your brain (frankly, any experience with teenage logic should confirm this).

All my Russian teachers advocate reading. Read LOTS! Do your family scripture reading in English, make sure they have an English book going whenever they aren't too busy with reading for school. Have your older kids read in English to your younger kids. Reading should also address the issue of being able to learn in English that Mama Ava brought up--which is very important. If they can read in English, they can pretty much learn anything in English, although it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a math session or two per week in English, just so they get used to those terms too.

Of course, speaking English in the home will make a big difference. Especially with conversational English.

Mama Ava said...

yesweareonmars, I'm so glad you said that about problems with kids growing up internationally. People always talk about the enrichments and opportunities, but pick up any book on third culture kids and you read over and over about the challenges they face as adults, both personally and professionally. We chose this life and all families make choices that impact their children's development, but I do think about how to address those issues as we are living so much of our children's lives out of our own. When our kids say, "I don't really know where I'm from anymore" (after only 3 years!) I think about it. On the other hand, I'm not looking to go back--there are benefits out here that we could never have in the States. Everything is about balance.

In defense of some military and expat families that I know, their husbands are often moved to jobs every 2-3 years, sometimes with very little notice (one student left for the airport with his family last week, not knowing if they were going to Japan, Singapore, or Korea). The fathers go on ahead and start working and the moms are left with the Herculean task of managing everything else, from logistics to their children's emotional upheavals. Several of them have said that after 4-5 posts like that, they just give up on learning the language very much...they put their time and energies into learning how to always live on the outside of something. I'm so thankful I don't have to do that!

Calandria, don't think we are trying to scare you away! We have LOVED LOVED LOVED our time overseas and aren't looking for a way home--but there are some really great books that talk about the issues that confront parents living away from their own country. I esp. liked Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World by Robin Pascoe.

Anonymous said...

Certainly don't be scared of going. You have a number of advantages others don't for instance, English is a second language there so they will learn it one way or the other. I have friends here from Finland, Denmark, Turkey and other countries where their m1 languages are not taught in schools. It is an added challenge for them to teach it.
Most of the southern European students I had at the university were very good in ready, writing and grammar but not so good with speaking (which is where I came in). The approach in the South in English seems to be focused more on those things so they miss out on practical usage. Northern Europeans criticize them for that but in the classroom I find the Dutch kids have great accents but are poor in grammar. Its just a matter of approach.

Speaking English at home is easier said then done when the kids are thinking in another language all day and they come home pooped and don’t want to make the added effort to speak English. If I am switching all day I am exhausted in the evening and I end up speaking Dinglish at home.

Joe said...

Sounds like a great adventure. I'm excited for your family.

I wouldn't worry about the language thing. Your kids are all readers, aren't they? Just have books available. They'll use the Internet. They'll communicate with friends and cousins. They'll talk to each other in English and Spanish both.

Best of luck on this adventure.