Language Challenge 180: Week 5

by Corey · 2 comments

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If you missed the activities these last few weeks, go to the Weekly Activity Page and click on the activities you missed.

Did you remember to check in on Friday? If not, go to the check in page and then make sure to go check out last Friday’s giveaway!

For those of you who have been on board since the beginning, don’t forget to keep checking your language pages! Let others know about the resources you are finding and/or ones that you are still looking for. Some of the language pages are hopping!

Doldrums Setting In?

Do you know what it means to be “in the doldrums”? The Cambridge Dictionary Online defines it as:

  1. unsuccessful or showing no activity or development
  2. sad and with no energy or enthusiasm

This is about the time when our language learning starts to stagnate a little bit. We may start to feel a little bored with it: “The things that felt fun and refreshing at the beginning are now getting on my nerves!” We may feel that we aren’t getting anywhere: “I thought I’d be much further along than I am! Why am I not making any progress?” We may even feel that things are going too fast: “I’m already on chapter 8 but I feel like I am completely lost!”

When it comes to passing on our language to our children, we may be hearing the same complaints from them: “Mom, not that CD again – ugh.” “Dad, will you stop making me answer in French!” “I am tired of hearing bed time stories in Arabic!”

Don’t worry, this is common and is part of the process. We will talk more about this next week. In fact, next week will be the first of our assessment weeks where we step back a bit and get an idea of how things are going: What is working? What is not working? What do I want to change? What would I like to do more/less of?

Hold tight… this is going to be a fun week so you’ll make it to next week with flying colors!

Keeping Your Languages Alive and Kicking!

There are many of us on the Language Challenge 180 adventure who are doing our best to maintain a language that is faltering. This could be because it isn’t our native language and we lack opportunities in everyday life to keep it going. Or maybe this is our native language but since it is so rarely used, we are starting to lose touch with it emotionally and linguistically. Yes, we do need to be attentive to keep up our native languages too!

For whatever reason, keeping our languages alive is important and also takes a certain amount of focus and dedication. If it hasn’t been happening automatically this far, then it probably isn’t going to change in the near future unless we do something about it.

This week Andrew, famous for his Telenovela Method, shares a fantastic post with us about how to keep our languages alive. Sound like something you can relate to? Read Maintain Your Language Even When You Don’t Live in a Country Where It Is Spoken and see if you can incorporate in some of Andrew’s suggestions this week.

This Week’s Activities

The same activities from the first week are still on the table. Look back at those if you can’t remember what they are. Of those, these are the ones that you should try to do every day this week:

  • Activity #1: Sentences:
    Adults and/or parents:
    Decide on 10-20 new sentences that you can use every day and add them to your list from last week. If you need more information on how to come up with these sentences, look at the week 3 language activities.
  • Activity #2: Reading: Keep reading every day this week!
    At least one chapter a day in a book or at least 20 minutes in your language learning program.
    At least one book/chapter a day out loud to your children. Make the experience as enjoyable as possible!

Now we will add something special this week – Scavenger Hunt tips!

Scavenger Hunts – CHILDREN:
With Easter just around the corner, many families have contacted me telling me how they incorporate language learning into their children’s Easter egg hunts. What fun! Whether you celebrate Easter or not, a scavenger hunt is one of my favorite ways to get children using our language! And who says it is just for children!?

  • Tip #1: The basic scavenger hunt: Read the post Encourage Multilingualism with Scavenger Hunts. It will give you a bunch of ideas for how to do scavenger hunts with your children. If your children can’t read, don’t worry – just read the clues out loud to them!
  • Tip #2: Plastic egg scavenger hunt: Purchase a bunch of plastic eggs (e.g. ones that that you can open and place things inside). Follow the basic scavenger hunt idea (note that you have to hide the clues ahead of time!) but this time the clues (written in the target language) are inside the eggs and the clues tell your kids where to find the next egg. For example, the first clue will be in egg #1 which you give your child and could say something like, “I am blue and I am sitting under the apple tree.” Your child runs to the apple tree and there she finds a blue egg. She opens it and inside is the next clue that points her to the next egg. The idea is that the last egg will point her to something special to finish the scavenger hunt (e.g. an Easter basket, a toy, a favorite book that you now read out loud, a coupon for something special, etc.).
  • Tip #3: Item collection scavenger hunt: In this scavenger hunt, you give your child each clue (writing in the target language) one at a time. The next clue is given only after the tasks in the previous clue have been completed. For example, you give your child the first clue that says, “I have a hard cover and you like to read me.” Your child should go get a hard cover book and bring it to you. Then you give your child the next clue that says, “I am blue and I keep you warm at night.” Your child should go get the blue blanket from the bed. The idea is that the items that your child brings should culminate in something fun like, reading a book together under a blue blanket and eating grapes from a white bowl (your child would have collected those things from the clues). Or having a tea party after your child collects all of the items based on the clues you wrote.
  • Tip #4: Nature scavenger hunt: For this scavenger hunt, head to the park or a friend’s house who has a big back yard. The clues should be natural items that can be found relatively easily but which will demand a certain amount of movement. Make the clues creative and fun, for example, “Find a blade of grass that is as long as your middle finger.” Or, “Find a leaf that has at least 4 points.” Or, “Bring back a rock that is as big as your eye.” The fun in this scavenger hunt is just being out in nature and having a good time. You can even do the scavenger hunt with your child!
  • Tip #5: Check-it off scavenger hunt: Give your child a sheet of paper with 10 things to find (written in the target language). Note: If you have more than one child, make sure that none of the sheets have the same things. For example, one sheet may have, “1 book with red on the cover,” and another sheet has, “1 book with green on the cover,” and another sheet has, “1 book with blue on the cover.” This way each of your children will be searching for different things. Once your children have their scavenger hunt sheets, let them search! They are encouraged to help one another – this makes language learning even more powerful and fun! Your children don’t have to bring the things back, but they should be able to tell you where they found each thing. For the most fun, put things on the list that are inside the house as well as outside!
  • Tip #6: Write/draw scavenger hunt: When the weather is good, head to the back yard or the park for this scavenger hunt. For this one, your children are going to write down what they find (or draw, if they are too young to write). You can either give your children the clues (in the target language) one at a time, or you can put all of the clues on a piece of paper (as in Tip #5 above). The clues for this scavenger hunt are going to be very basic, for example, “Something blue,” or, “something smaller than your thumb,” or, “something that flies.” What your children are going to do is to go find something that matches the clue “a blue flower,” “a pebble,” “a dragonfly,” and write down (or draw) what they see/find. They must write it down in the target language (or at least the best they can – if they don’t know a word they can ask you). Of course, this scavenger hunt can be done inside as well.
  • Tip #7: Asking questions scavenger hunt: This is a fun one because it gets our children talking! Write up a bunch of cards (in the target language) that describe different things about the children involved. For example, “Find someone whose favorite color is blue” or, “Find someone who has black hair,” or, “Find two people who have lost at least 2 teeth.” Your children will need to ask one another (and you too, if you want!) questions to find out the answers. If your children are old enough, have them record their answers on a piece of paper. You can also help your children by giving them the target questions as well. For example, write down “Question to ask: ‘What is your favorite color?'”
  • Tip #8: Walking scavenger hunt: My children’s favorite kind of scavenger hunt is one that involves walking through the neighborhood. Write down clues (in the target language) ahead of time that match landmarks in your neighborhood. Note: Make sure to organize the clues in the right order with the ones that are closest to your house coming first! For example, the first clue might say “A green sign that says 4th Street on it,” which should be the street sign closest to your house. Once that is found, then the next clue mentions something else nearby, such as, “A white house with green trim.” Have this scavenger hunt end somewhere fun like a park, a playground, a grocery store, ice cream shop, the library, etc. The next time you do this scavenger hunt, use a different set of clues. Or start the scavenger hunt somewhere else in your town!
  • Tip #9: Call-it-out scavenger hunt:While driving in the car, going for a walk, in the grocery store, etc. have your children call out items that start with a specific letter from the alphabet of the target language. For example, tell your children to call out items that start with the letter S. Anything they see that starts with that letter is what they should then call out. This can often be tough for children who are learning a new language, so help them out a bit by picking letters that will make it easier to find things.

The truth is, I could go on and on with scavenger hunt ideas – as I said, it is honestly my favorite way to get my children to use their language while having a great time! You don’t need to have prizes or anything special at the end of your children’s scavenger hunts, but it makes it fun if you can finish them off with something that helps everyone slow down and relax: read a story out loud, go for a walk, have the scavenger hunt end at the park, etc.

Scavenger Hunts – ADULTS
Who says that scavenger hunts are just for kids? Adults should be able to join in the fun as well. Here are some ways to get your language learning going this week:

  • Tip #1: Mall scavenger hunt: I personally hate shopping – be it clothing, food or kitchen appliances. And spending time in the mall is not my idea of fun. However, it’s a ton of fun if you are doing a scavenger hunt!
    Here’s how you do it:
    Before you go to the mall, you need a list of clues written on a sheet of paper in the target language. Ideally someone else will write the clues for you (a friend or spouse who speaks the target language is ideal!) but you can write the clues yourself and print them out. Write things that are very simple, such as, “Something blue,” or, “Something I would never wear in a million years,” or, “Describe a pair of shoes I’d love to own.” Then head to the mall with paper in hand and write down answers for all of the clues. Write as much as you can. For “sometime blue” write more than just the name of the thing – describe it in detail. Write down why you chose it, etc. Ideally you will do this scavenger hunt with a friend or with your kids. Have them help you find things and write down what they have to say as well. Maybe you can even enlist some others who are learning your target language? The more the merrier!
  • Tip #2: Magazine scavenger hunt: Do you have a bunch of magazines around your house? Gather them together for this scavenger hunt! To start you need to write out a bunch of clues in your target language. Be as specific as you can in your clues (this is where you can practice your language skills). For example, “A woman who has blue eyes, black hair and is wearing a white dress,” or, “A child wearing a diaper, crawling on the floor and looking at the camera.” Once you have your clues together, start going through the magazines to see if you can find anything that you wrote on your clues. As always: this is more fun if you can do it with your children, spouse or friends who are learning (or who speak) your target language! Once you find pictures that match your clues, write a little more about the pictures that you found on a piece of paper, for example, describe other things going on in the picture.
  • Tip #3: ABC scavenger hunt: While driving, going for a walk, in the grocery store, in the mall, etc. write down (or say to yourself) the name of items in your target language that start with each letter in your target language’s alphabet. Start at the beginning of the alphabet and go down the list. Even if you see something that starts with a letter later in the alphabet, too bad – you have to go one letter at a time. This is also a fun one to do with your children, especially while driving in the car! It is a lot like the children’s tip #9 above but it is harder in that you have to stick with where you are in the alphabet.
  • Tip #4: Vocabulary scavenger hunt: For this you can use online or print resources that are in your target language. This is how you do it: Write up a list of words that you want to search for. You can search for translated words, for example, you can write the word in your native language on a card and then you search through online resources (e.g. newspapers, magazines, etc.) or your print resources (e.g. novels, newspapers, magazines) to find the translation of that word. Alternatively, you can write clues that are a little more descriptive, for example, “Find 3 action verbs,” or, “Find 3 verbs in past tense.” You would then search online and/or print resources and write down what you find. See if you can get a friend or a spouse to help you with ideas for words to find and/or online and print resources to use. You can really get serious by searching for specific grammar rules that you are working on right now!
  • Tip #5: Twitter/Email/Facebook scavenger hunt: If you don’t have anyone locally that can join/help you with your scavenger hunts, then see if you can connect with others via email, Twitter or Facebook who would enjoy doing a scavenger hunt with you. You can give each other clues each day in the target language and have fun seeing what you come up with! For example, send a Tweet/Email/Facebook post to your friend (in the target language) that says, “Find a pair of brown shoes in your house.” Your friend finds a pair of brown shoes and replies back in the target language, “I found a pair of brown shoes in my son’s closet!” Even this little bit of writing can do wonders for your language practice!
    To make this more about language learning, you can have one another find language-specific items in the things you are reading. For example, write in the target language, “Find a sentence that describes a house,” or, “Find a sentence that uses the gerund.”

That’s it for today. It should keep us busy for the week (if not the next 180 days!) Please feel free to leave comments below if you have more ideas and/or if you want to share how you are incorporating scavenger hunts into your/your children’s language learning!

Remember to sit down right now and plan things out for this week! What books are you going to read to yourself and/or out loud to your children? What scavenger hunt ideas are you going to try out this week?

You are always welcome to leave comments below – tell us what you like and don’t like with Language Challenge 180 so far and we’ll see if we can change things to work better for you.

Stay tuned for the Friday check-in question and new giveaway!

1 Wendy April 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

With respect to the doldrums setting in, I am starting to hear complaints from my two 7-year-old girls: “Mom, can we have a break from Spanish?” The activities do draw them in, though. They enjoyed making arroz con leche last weekend, and they almost always start to sing along when we listen to songs in Spanish that they know. I’m sure they’ll enjoy one of these scavenger hunts.

2 mudpiemama April 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

This is fantastic! We have tri-lingual children and sometimes it’s hard to keep the motivation on that third less used language! Looking forward to using some of these ideas!

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