30 August, 2010

Foreign Languages the Charlotte Mason Way

My friends and I hosted a Charlotte Mason Question and Answer Day on August 28th to help advise new-to CM and new-to-Ambleside Online moms who are new to or just beginning teaching with a CM philosophy in their homeschools. I got to help with some basic things like spelling, studied dictation, nature study, high school transcripts, and my favorite, Foreign Language the CM way.

CM mentions several wonderful suggestions in her volumes (1 and 3 especially) and in PR aricles, which I had mentioned and linked to back in May 2010 while prepping for a talk I was going to be giving. During the span of her teaching, writing, and lecturing career, we find that she was settling more and more on the methods of Francois Gouin (also a late 19th century educator). She gives examples of lesson plans and objectives, plus students' samples in the back of her book School Education, Volume 3 for "A Gouin Series," along with other sample grammar lessons and narration examples.

A Gouin Series is:

1. a sequence of logical steps or actions (always about 5-8) in a process.
2. 1st pronoun in each sentence of the series needs to be the same.
3. Pronoun used determines the verb conjugation(s) which is easier, because it is presented in context.
4. Simple, short so not overwhelming even in advanced tenses.
5. Given orally first.
6. Includes gestures to show/demonstrate meaning
7. Students repeat and gesture what you, the teacher, demonstrated.

It is helpful to have pictures that match the series as well, but not always practical. In this case, you can draw the students in to do drawings for the class.

This is an example of a Gouin series set of action statements:

Yo voy a la escuela.
Yo vengo a la clase de español.
Yo tengo mis materiales en mi mochila.
Yo saco mi libro, mi cuarderno, y mi bolígrafo.
Yo saco una hoja de papel, también.
Yo escucho a la profesora.
Yo escribo muchas notas en mi cuarderno.

Translated means: I go to school. I come to Spanish class. I have my supplies in my backback. I take out my book, notebook (workbook), and my pen. I take out a piece of paper, as well. I listen to the teacher. I take many notes in my notebook. After teaching activities/actions with a Gouin series approach, you then add in some (short) storytelling. This is another good site, called TPR World, which is doing a lot of proofing and research, provides resources to keep reforming FL teaching in public and private schools using the writings and work(s) of Francois Gouin, Stephen Krashen, James Asher, and Blaine Ray. Some free printouts are available on these sites, as well.

We find this 19th Century educator, who realized the importance (in his own life, first!) of teaching/learning language in a logical, practical series emphasizing most commonly used verbs. Over the past few years, I've also discovered these modern researchers, teachers, and supporters, all of whom promote the storytelling developments added to the Gouin series and gesturing during lessons, (aka the work of Blaine Ray and others) in the TPR Storytelling movement. Also see Blaine Ray's web site: http://www.blaineraytprs.com/.

Curriculum helps:

I tend to use multiples resources, as many Liberal Arts Education moms do, though I pull from one specific book as a spine, then multiple resources to be more well-rounded and more CM. This also jibes quite a bit, if you know how to tweak it, with the TPR Storytelling enthusiasts, so I get a lot of my ideas/novels in the target language, music, etc., from them. If you are interested in knowing more about High School, feel free to ask me offline. Some TPR supplements to these curriculae are better than others.

I like the "Hola Niños package for the elementary years. This is what I'd buy if I had young elementary students. For upper elementary, Cuéntatme. There is a French version of both of those curriculum packages. Pricelist for these is here. These are what I would use with your children if I organized a Spanish class for the younger years. I am adding high school Spanish 3 this year and also will be teaching American Lit to high school students. That's two preps that I haven't done in a long time, for a total of four classes with outside students.

*** Two things about those programs that you may want to be prepared for. *All of the lessons are meant to be humorous and taken lightly. Some of the lessons may have very silly stories, perhaps elephants falling in love with people or other boyfriend/girlfriend themes that are not something you'd want to use in your family, so there could be some wasted lessons, or lessons that you'll have to tweak.

When I encounter these in resources that I buy for my classes, I either tweak or skip them. If I tweak them, then I've got to make my own pictures to match the new characters or actions.

***The other thing is that these programs assume you have had some Spanish and have a comfortable working knowledge of grammar, pronunciation, etc. Otherwise, you may end up getting frustrated. Take your time to explore these links. You may come away with some neat lessons for your own students/children if you do, or it may bring up more questions for you. Ask away!!

For more information on what Gouin teachers are doing today ~ http://gouinseries.com/. There are some neat lesson links and a few free resources available through more links found on this site.

A third affordable recommendation that I love is for Visual Link Spanish, which helps with sentence building in chunks...Noun, verb, + prepositional phrase. You can get the first 11 or 12 lessons for free. Sign up for their e-mail list and wait for them to send you special pricing (it usually happens within a week!) on the disks. Since it is computer-based, students might be apt to fall into boredom after a month or two.

Visit Mamalisa.com for nursery rhymes and folk songs.

Don't forget that you can do Bible verse copywork, or even reading practice in any language by using the free resource of Biblegateway.net! If you prefer side-by-side translations, look at Biblios.com.

Hymns are available online for free as well at cyberhymnal.com or here. Hope your school terms have started well!


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