Post by Line G. on Feb 29, 2016 6:03:58 GMT 9
I came around here a while ago, then left again with a bunch of new ideas. Lately, I've been rethinking many of my bilingual plans again, and I thought I'd come and see how everyone is doing! This post is a bit for the sake of recording what I'm thinking, as I more and more feel the need to better plan the next steps of my son's French-German journey.
He will be five in May and start what the Germans call "Vorschule" which is a one year preschool period when children are more specifically prepared to start school. Because yes, primary school is truly looming on the horizon now. For plenty of reasons, it makes me a little anxious.
Meanwhile, my little boy is making steady progress in both his languages. He speaks both spontaneously, translates and transfers knowledge between both. He even seems to be proudly sharing some French at Kindergarten and some parents had the surprise of having their kid start counting in French.
He's still having issues with the gender of words, order of words (how to place the adjective or verb in a sentence is different in German and French) as well as proper conjugation of verbs, although he is making progress on all of these. He is a little more skilled in German than French, and it will probably stay this way. In both languages he is a little less skilled than the average monolingual, due to the issues stated above. On average, I am quite happy with him, although his Kindergarten still complains that his German isn't perfect.
For now we're working on preliteracy skills:
- Better vocabulary
- Better syntax and grammar
- Awareness for written words and letters
- Awareness for syllables and sounds
- In general maintaining an already existing love for books
What we're doing:
- Bedtime stories are still a must
- Songs, although I *really* should work on renewing the material now
- Some games are also a really good opportunity to work on correct sentence building by generating repetitive actions and wording (the selling game, various board games...) (that's a trick the speech therapist uses a lot, it helps pull passive knowledge into the spontaneous speech)
- The whiteboard is still a great tool to demonstrate writing
- I started some more advanced "prewriting" exercises that are used a lot in French preschools, such as coloring letters, or cutting them to put them back in the right order. He needs to learn to write his name anyway (that's one of those "Vorschule" skills), and we didn't do him a favor because it has 8 letters, which is a lot to remember
On the downside, I failed to maintain a daily homework routine. I was working too late, my son was tired from Kindergarten and I from work. More relaxed stuff like singing or reading a book would still happen, but when it came to sitting down with a pencil, well... After giving it up entirely for a while, I started again but scaled it down to a Sunday morning routine, for the sake of everyone's sanity. It's a good time because we are both rested and happy, and is working fine so far. Also, I now have the time to prepare my own material, instead of buying stuff that bores my kid to tears.
On the plus side, there is a second French-German bilingual in the making who should be born in July. Due to this, I will be spending a lot more time at home in the coming year, so there will be more family minority language time. After the first few months of baby-induced insomnia are over, I'm planning to reintroduce daily homework.
Other things I'm doing now for the coming year:
- Enrolling my son in the "Petite école francaise" which is a community based French school, two hours a week. I couldn't before due to work, but it's now an option due to parental leave, and I'll take the opportunity. At the very least he should be able to make some french-speaking friends there.
- Suscribing to an age appropriate magazine for him. He loves getting mail and it would mean more fresh read aloud material.
- Buying more classical fairy tales. In all the books we've bought him (which is a lot), I just noticed there are only very few fairy tales. It's probably time to fix that.
- Looking out for games that could expand vocabulary and syntax / grammar skills while still being fun to play. Some games specifically designed for speech therapy can be great (but expensive), and I've found many mainstream games can also fulfill that purpose.
Things I'm worrying about: primary school! I wish I could have him attend the one school in the city that has a program for French-German bilinguals, but we live a few streets away from the right district and unless I can find a legal trick of some sort, he won't be able to go there. I find that very frustrating!
I'll try and use this thread as a diary of sorts, and regularly come back to report on what we're doing.