Language Challenge 180: Week 7

by Corey

This page is for Language Challenge 180 participants only. Sign up now to join this event!

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 Monday? If not, go to the check in page to check in and then make sure to go check out our current giveaway! You don’t want to miss what we are giving away this week!

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.

Make it a Marathon of Short Sprints

I’m sure you know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare – the moral being that slow, methodical progression wins the race in the end. Expecting miracles from a burst of language learning isn’t realistic.

However, the problem with being the tortoise is that it can be boring! Plodding along the whole way may win us the race but where’s the spice and spunk and fun? The hare is living it up. He’s having the kind of fun that we’d like to be having. Who cares if he wins the race or not!

When it comes to language learning, my family and I want to feel inspired and motivated. When I can’t seem to get enough of TV shows in German, then what the heck, I go with it! I’ll watch one while I’m making the kids lunch and I’ll watch another after the kids are in bed. Maybe the kids and I will watch one in the evening after homeschooling activities are done (or we’ll watch one during the day and make it a part of homeschooling!) Who knows if we’ll feel as motivated tomorrow, so we take advantage of today.

When I get excited about learning French, I hop on over to that language and immerse myself in all things French (we’ve been listening to France Bleu for the past two weeks all day long – the kids sing the station’s song now all of the time). My husband and I talk to my children in as much French as I can remember (with a bunch of German, English or Spanish words thrown in from time to time) and have fun with it. We even incorporate in French meals into our days – what fun!

The point is that my family and I can get bored easily when it comes to language learning and so we have to keep things moving and changing and, yes, hopping. We may not win the race against the tortoise but what the heck, we aren’t trying to win any races. We are just trying to make the journey as enjoyable as possible (which I think the hare has dibs on). I firmly believe that the enjoyment is what will keep us going during our language-learning marathon.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have slow times or days when we don’t feel like doing any language learning. On those days, maybe we sit back and read a book in just one language. Those are the days that we might practice grammar (nice to have something systematic and focused sometimes!). Excitement in language learning is fantastic but too much of it can burn us out. I like to think of my family’s approach to language learning as doing short sprints over and over again during a long period of time.

The most important is that we do at least something every single day. Some days might be sprints, other days might be slow and steady.

Now, if you/your children are more into the tortoise approach, then stick with that! Language learning is personal, emotional and individual. Do what works for you and/or your children! If taking one systematic step after another is what you like best (and is working for you) then go for it. Your consistent approach is what will get you where you want to go! But if you find that you are getting a little bored, then don’t hesitate to do some running, jumping and hopping for a while. It will get your language juices going again!

This Week’s Activities

Now that we have quite a bit of language learning under our belts (and/or have been passing on a lot to our children), this week is going to focus on producing the language in written form.

Pick one or more of the following to do this week for yourself and/or with your children (instead of or in addition to your usual language activities).

  • Activity #1: Journal Writing:
    Take at least 15 minutes every day to write in a journal. You can write about anything you want or you can use one or more of the prompts listed below. You can have someone correct your writing or you can type it into a computer program that can do spell-checking for you. Or you can just not worry about spelling right now and instead just focus on writing – that is fine too!

    If your children can write in the target language, then have them write for at least 15 minutes each day in that language. Help them with ideas of what they can write about. Unless your children want you to correct their spelling and grammar, don’t worry about it this week. The goal is for our children to get their thoughts down on paper in the target language.
    If your children can’t write themselves, then have them tell you what to write. They can tell you about a story/movie that they like or they can make up a story. Maybe they want to have you dictate a letter to a family member. The key is to get your children producing sentences in their target language.

    Here are some ideas for what you/your children could write about:
    – Today will be a wonderful day because…
    – I wish I had…
    – My favorite place to live would be…
    – If I could have three wishes they would be…
    – One of my favorite memories from my youth is…
    – In 5 years I hope to be…
    – My favorite book/movie is about…
    – If I were younger, I would…
  • Activity #2: Dictation:
    If you have never done dictation, don’t worry. It is pretty straightforward:
    (1) The first step is to find an audio program (e.g. an audio book) that you can pause and rewind. If you are using LingQ to learn a language, then use one of their shorter programs (but don’t read the words on the screen!).
    (2) Have a piece of paper and pencil/pen ready (or you can type your dictation on the computer).
    (3) Listen to the audio one time through without writing anything.
    (4) Start from the beginning of the audio, play a sentence (or a few words), pause the audio and then write down the sentence.
    (5) Keep doing this until you get the end of the audio.
    (6) Play the audio again from the beginning and read what you wrote. Make sure the two match.
    (7) If you are using LingQ, then look at the text on the screen to make sure that your text matches. If you aren’t using LingQ, then have someone correct your spelling/grammar or use a text editing program with spell and grammar checker on in the target language.

    Do the same as for individuals (above) but instead of having your children listen to an audio program, you will read the text out loud to your children. Pick something that is interesting – maybe a passage from a book that you are reading to your children out loud. You can help your children out by telling them where the punctuation is (if you want).
  • Activity #3: Copywork
    Individuals and/or parents: If you/your children are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of writing in a journal or doing dictations, then spend the week doing some copywork. This isn’t the most exciting activity in the world but it will help you/your children focus on good examples of the language.
    Copywork consists of finding some sentences from a book/magazine/online and copying it by hand onto a piece of paper. That’s it! The point is to notice how words are spelled, sentences are formed and grammar is used.- You can choose passages from books that you/your children are reading.
    – Don’t make the copywork passages too long! Aim for 15 minutes of copywork each day.
    – Talk with your children about the sentence structure, punctuation and idiomatic expressions that may be included in the copywork passages.
    – Pay attention to what you are writing!

That’s it for today! Stay tuned for the Friday check-in email and new giveaway!

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