Chinese and English and Spanish, Oh My!

It has been an interesting experience learning a third language with my youngest child. Since I am an ESL teacher with VIPKID, I can get Mandarin classes at a discount with the sister company, Lingobus (referral link: She has been taking classes off and on for a year now, and she really enjoys them! Since she's not a student that is gung-ho about studying...anything...I initiate most of the study sessions. We'll go over previous lessons, look through the picture flashcards, and sometimes pull out the workbook. I mostly try to listen in on her lessons and integrate the vocabulary into our daily life. In fact, this child learned "left" and "right" in Chinese before she finally figured it out in English or Spanish! Anyway, I was having so much fun, I got a Mandarin tutor for myself!

She also likes to watch Little Fox Chinese episodes, even though she understands very little, even at level one. I encourage this for listening comprehension. I tell her to listen for at least one word she knows during the cartoon conversations. I do the same in the Spanish classes I teach. A problem I've seen with many learning language, is the ability to read and understand, but the inability to understand what is spoken. This is why I integrate a lot of listening comprehension through stories and songs. I tell the student to listen for at least one word they recognize in a song, for example, and ask them to share.

So, how is Spanish going? She is a bilingual speaker, and her ability has really grown. She speaks only Spanish to her dad, and periodically asks me for a word to translate to him. It is not her stronger language, like it was for her older sister at this age. But, that's okay. I started doing math with her only in Spanish once a week, and since I'm teaching online science classes in Spanish, I have her sit in on those classes as well. It's great - she is getting her science (it was hit-and-miss in our homeschool), Spanish, and can have class with others a couple of times a week which she likes.

I'm understanding some other families' plight, though, about a child not wanting to speak the family language. My youngest gets like that sometimes. Well, at least she doesn't want to hear her favorite shows in Spanish. I made her put on She-Ra in Spanish the other day. She was afraid she wasn't going to understand it. She said she was surprised that she actually didn't have a problem understanding it. So, basically, she didn't want to because of fear. She did fine. But, she still prefers to watch in English.

And then there's English. I highly suspect she's dyslexic like her sister. Reading is not her favorite activity by a long stretch, but she will voluntarily read in either English or Spanish. Most days, I have a reader she's progressing in, but she will also choose books in either language she likes to read. I'm proud of her progress in both.

I'm looking forward to see what this upcoming year will bring in the three languages, and homeschooling in general.


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