Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Language Literacy

We are a language-oriented family. That's kind of a no-brainer. In my spare time (insert insane laughter here) I write fiction and short non-fiction pieces. Dh is a reporter for one of the biggest newspapers in the nation. We are always in the act of learning something, reading something or firing off missives outlining our stance on things. We read, read, read, and write, write, write. It's in our blood ... the very same blood that we've passed on to our children. They have books everywhere: in their beds, under their beds, in bags, on tables, stacked in corners. ((sigh)) It's a messy habit, this home education business.

I'm not really surprised that our children have taken up the cause of all learning all the time. Honestly, I think I'd be surprised if they weren't interested in something, KWIM? I really don't care what it is. Obsess over elephants. Research rabbits. Unearth Asia. Whatever floats your boat ... just learn.

What has surprised me is the interest each of the children has in foreign languages. When I say "interest," what I mean is a desire to speak and read in that tongue. Insane, huh? Where did that come from? Must have been all those books we've read from infancy that don't involve talking bunnies reciting the ABC's. ;-) At any rate, my children are each engaged in learning languages. This poses a bit of a problem for dh and I, who mastered French and German, respectively, before closing our college texts and never again chancing to diagram another sentence that started with the masculine or feminine articles.

In other words, I wouldn't say I am fluent in anything but English--although I will admit that my Spanish is better than most Americans. Same for dh, who can tell you a few off-color phrases in French and not much more despite five years of study.

Thankfully, homeschoolers have the time to dedicate to these random interests. And the resources ... oh, the resources. We happen to live in an area where Rosetta Stone language software is accesible online for free. Yes ... for free! This opens the doors my children to indulge their lingophile tendencies without putting dh and I in the position of having them prioritize. Can you imagine the conversations: "Look, son, you can learn Latin or Swahili, but not both. Maybe next year, o.k.?"

So, if you come by my house in the pre-lunch hours, take a moment to stand underneath the open front window and listen. Chances are good you'll hear beginning Japanese (Atticus's current favorite), followed by French (Jo) and Spanish (Logan), then advanced Spanish (Jo), then more Spanish (Atticus), then Greek (Jo) followed by U.K. English (Logan thinks its a hoot). If you're lucky, you'll hear my children call for our dog using the nine different words they know from various languages. And if you're really, really lucky, I'll remember how to greet you in German.

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