Chitchat by Jude Isabella (Kids Can Press, September 2013) is a delightful exploration of language for a young adult reader. It explores so many aspects of language that I felt like I was a little bit in heaven since I appreciate and love languages and words so much. At 48 pages, it obviously only skimmed the surface, but for a young reader, it’s tone, illustrations, and length would be just right. (more…)
Raisin and I are only done with a little more than 40 of the lessons for the Kindergarten language arts program Logic of English Foundations. However, he enjoys it so much that I feel it is time I discussed it briefly on this blog.
LoE Foundations is an “all in one” language arts for 4-6 year old homeschool teachers or classroom teachers. Beginning with phonics, Foundations teaches children to read, to write (both a manuscript and a cursive instructional workbook are available for the handwriting instruction), and to grasp the basics of spelling. So far, I have not encountered any grammatical instruction or lessons on the mechanics of writing but neither of those are typically included in a kindergarten level program, I don’t believe. The program is to have about 180 lessons. After the first 40, students have learned how to write the 26 lowercase letters of the alphabet and can successfully read a large number of words by sounding out the phonograms. (more…)
My son Raisin has expressed an interest in learning Spanish. Although this interest comes and goes, I’ve decided to embrace his interest as much as I can. I studied Spanish extensively in college and spent a few months in South America, but in the past decade, I’m sorry to say I’ve let my Spanish usage and training lag. I am a long way from where I used to be. Language learning is not like learning to ride a bicycle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Enter: Play and Learn Spanish by Ana Lomba (McGraw Hill 2011), a audiobook/textbook combination providing a series of conversations full of vocabulary that children really use. My son and I loved the songs, and after listening to some of the conversations a few times, I find it much easier to incorporate Spanish in to my daily conversations with my children.
In the reviews of the program, there were some complaints about how it seems impossible to “learn Spanish” by using this product, so I feel it’s necessary to re-emphasize the author’s instructions for how it works. This is not a program that works by handing it to a child and saying “go for it.” This is a program for a parent to use if he or she is interested in providing a child with an immerse experience in a second language. In other words, the parent needs to learn Spanish along with the child as they listen to the dialogues together.
The accompanying book has the Spanish and English translations written for the parent (I do not believe the book is as helpful for the child, although the pages are bright and interesting, and my son always wanted to turn pages along with the CD). As the parent learns the phrases, he or she should then begin using said phrases in daily conversation with the child. I found the CD to be very successful in helping with pronunciation (reminders in my case, since I was at one point familiar with it). Ms Lomba speaks with an accent from Spain; my previous Spanish had been South American. After listening to the CD a few times, I found myself pronouncing the s‘s and z‘s as “th” as they do in Spain. It was interesting to me how, even with my previous training, listening to vocabulary repeatedly gave me a subtle change in my own pronunciation. (more…)
When my son was a young infant in the middle of 2008, and I purchased Professor Seth Lerer’s Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History and spent months reading and rereading chapters, hoping to gain a better understanding of where children’s literature fits in the world history. Although I’ve since finished the book, I still plan on rereading portions and finding children’s literature that I can read to fit the eras Lerer discusses about what children read (see my project page; I haven’t done much with this project lately, but it is an ongoing project).
Then I saw Emily’s review of Professor Lerer’s Inventing English last year. Since I love language, I loved the idea of little episodes of the history of the language. I also read this slowly, simply because the subject of the early development of English is new to me. (Yes, despite the fact that I was an English major in college, I don’t recall much of the historical development of early, Old English.)
In the end, both books are ones I can recommend to fans of language and nonfiction.
When I joined the 2009 Science Book Challenge, I didn’t intend to focus on neuroscience, but it turns out that that branch of science is absolutely fascinating to me. These two books I read really have convinced me that science and art are inextricably related each other, for art is perceived and appreciated by the brain.
I think I’d say the Lehrer was my preferred of these two, only because I hadn’t realized the Sacks was abridged. At any rate, I enjoyed both books and would love to revisit either other again in the future. (more…)