Posts Tagged ‘grammar’

Nora’s English Lessons

April 7, 2014

Nora’s English lessons are ongoing, continual, every day, all day long, even into the dark of the night, forever… it seems.  Just today’s list of words that she learned …. either the meaning or the pronunciation:

1. “Shweediss” = Swedish…. as in Swedish pancakes, my grandmother’s delicacy.

2. “School Rock House” = School House Rock.  Come on! Those are classics!

3. Inspect … “isn’t that when you save piles of things like rocks?”  Um no.

4. “Ann of Grenoble.”   Oh.My.Stars!  Anne of Green Gables.  She did not live in Russia near Chernobyl!

5. “Dad didn’t ate any.”  We ain’t hillbillies no mo.

6. “Mom, what is a globin?”  I don’t know.  “It’s here in my book!”  Spell it.  “G O B L I N.” That spells goblin…. it’s a make believe little monster.  (Why the heck are there goblins in the phonics workbook anyway??!!)

7. Nora looking at a picture of a newspaper and logically trying to choose the descriptive word from: Pretend, Prison and Printed.  “It looks like it’s really a paper and but you could pretend it’s not. You could read that in prison. Someone had to print it, so it is printed. I don’t know this one, Mom.”  Circle any of them, Nora.  :o)

These are the days of our lives. 

The English Beast Raised its Head Today

February 25, 2014

For the Colombian princess, English has been her second language for almost three years now.  She has learned to read quite well now, but she SHINES in the creative spelling department. (ugh!) I have come to realize that in the Crosby household we must not speak very clearly.  You’d think I would have better pronunciation as I’m on my third time through the entire Downton Abbey series! Here is a little glimpse into our English lessons today.

explode the code 002

Nora reads a sentence and then checks the YES box or the NO box.

1. Can a tiny baby sleep in a playpen? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain.  “A tiny baby can’t sleep in the sand out in the open at the park by the swings!” she explains, horrified that I might think that is acceptable! Ah, playpen = playground. Situation rectified.

2.  Can cattle fit in a cradle? YES is checked.  I ask her to explain. “If the cradle is big enough and you have a small cattle, it could fit,” she justifies! I ask her to define cattle. “It’s the cage the dogs sleep in.”  Ah, cattle = kennel.  Situation rectified.

3.  Are there animals in a stable? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. Rolling her eyes she points out the obvious for her mother, “How could an animal fit in a stable?”  I ask her to define stable. “It’s when you hit that silver thing and stable the pages together.” Ah, so stable = staple.

4. Do you put a kettle on the stove? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. “There are big holes in the side of the kettle.  Water wouldn’t stay in there and I think the plastic would melt,” she reasons.  I ask her to define kettle. “Its the cage the dogs sleep in.”  Wait, I thought that was cattle?  So, cattle = kennel = kettle.  This is making perfect sense.

And this was all within fifteen minutes!  But that is not all.

5. Can a needle vanish in the tall grass? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. “If you hold onto the needle it won’t bannish!” (implied: DUH, Mom!) I underline the V in vanish and she corrects her pronunciation.  I ask her to define vanish. “It’s when you bisappear.”  Oh my stars.

English 101

April 27, 2012

Since the addition of the Colombian princess to our happy family, the English language has been under much scrutiny in my mind.  Our little girl, who only spoke Spanish when we met her, is now only speaking English.  I remember the adoption agency telling us that at four months she would be speaking English.  I hoped and dreamed that would be true for each of the 120 days leading up to the four-month mark. 

My eldest daughter and I had some grasp of mangled Spanish when we headed to Colombia, and with the addition of Google Translate (that speaks aloud for you!) we did communicate fairly effectively, I thought.  A year after the fact, I now believe that there was a lot of smiling and nodding going on without much comprehension.  But we survived those early days!  Whew!  What made me sad was that Nora’s daddy couldn’t talk to her at all.  My sweet husband simply spoke louder…. as if that would help the translation somehow.  My mother also was a bit uncomfortable being left with the care of a little girl and a big language barrier.  The sooner the four-month switch occurred, the better!

At three months, three weeks and three days, I was getting exasperated with the translation between our little Colombiana and the rest of the family.  It didn’t seem to me like she was understanding English.  She wasn’t using that many words in her new language.  What I didn’t realize was that her little brain was storing English words.  In little filing cabinets… that could be referred to later.  After four months.

Then four months ended.  And POOF!  She spoke English.  Spanish was gone.  English had arrived… the switch in her brain took place ON CUE at four months and she has not looked back.  I don’t think she even realized what happened.  It was as if the Spanish filing cabinets were closed and locked.  The English filing cabinets were opened and readily available for use.  Unbelievable how God made young brains to absorb language.  Unbelievable!

As she continues to experiment with the English language, I have had to think through a lot of her sentences, words and syntax…. to try to discover WHY we say things like we do.  It is confusing.  Tonight she told me, “You don’t have to fed the dogs.  I did.”  ‘Fed’ is past tense.  ‘I did’ is past tense. I can see how it seems right… sort of. 

One time I asked Nora to close the back door.  She stood still, eyes roving the room as her little brain tried to grasp…. something….  Finally she held onto her shirt and said, “I think this is clothes. How do you clothes a door?”  Made perfect sense to me.

And the -ed ending to words is so confusing.  Go…. goed.   I saw the bird…. I sawed the bird yesterday.  Eat… eated.  Run…. runned.  Sat… satted.  Drive… drived.  “Well, -ed is usually how you add past tense….. but not this time, Honey.”  Witnessing the transition has been a blessing and an awe-inspiring adventure!  Adoption stretches you in ways you never expected.  Ever.  And I love it!

End of the School Year

May 12, 2010

Tomorrow is supposed to be the last day of school for LAKE Academy.  (L = Larisa, A = Austin, K = Keeve and if Zaza’s real name starts with E… it will all be so perfecto!)  However, none of my pupils are finished with their work.  My most hopeful student did not pass his last math test with over 90%…. which is not a passing grade at LAKE Academy.  We have high standards to uphold… and math requires skills that need to be remembered over and over.. and mastered.  He will be doing some review and then retaking the test.  Some of you may balk at my expectations, but the kids know they can live up to them… so I set them HIGH!  If I set them low, they would live up to those as well.  We are not striving for mediocrity in this home school!  No, I’m not pushing my kids beyond their capabilities either.  Calm down.

Pupil #3 got braces put on this week and it has slowed his progress in math and grammar.  I gave him a check-off list five weeks ago with what needed to be accomplished each day.  He has been faithful and diligent until this week.  He may be able to complete his work for the year on Friday… if his mouth is not distracting him.  Wires poking your cheeks can be such a detriment to every day life.  Good grief!  Thank God for wax!

Pupil #1 has had an unbalanced year.  She had way too much of a good thing during the first semester and much making up for the lacking things during second semester.  I also gave her a list of what needed to be accomplished to complete her sophomore year.  Frankly, it will probably take her another month.  But that’s OK.  Her calendar is wide open!  She’ll be winding down the same time as her cousins in Washington who don’t finish school until end of June.  Perfect.

As the homeschool marm, I reflect on my teaching for the past year… right about now…..  Mid-May.  I didn’t do as well as I had hoped with staying on top of high school history.  Spanish for my boys died mid-winter and is still in need of resuscitation.  We may be doing that all summer.  For spelling, both boys advanced more than a year!  They also finished math and are right on course… actually, #2 son is about 2/3 of a year ahead.  Their writing dramatically improved this year thanks to an IEW course.  (Institute for Excellence in Writing)  They know how to take notes from three sources, compile them, make an outline, write a three paragraph paper with opening and closing/clincher sentences… AND know how to add strong verbs, adjectives, adverbs, clauses and sentence openers.  (More than most high school graduates!)  So I feel great about that!  Not so great about high school history.

Out of my nine years of homeschooling my kids, I would only say I did a great job one out of nine years.  That’s not good odds. I’d tell you the exact percentage, but my calculator is missing from my desk.  And I don’t do math in my head.  As soon as I have to carry a number, they all get mixed up.  My great year was last year…. year EIGHT!  But, hey, there’s always next year!  And if we don’t set our goals high… we wouldn’t accomplish hardly anything at all!  Next week I’ll be breathing easy.  Whew!