A Bilingual Child: Conjugate the Verb

Confused by irregular verb conjugations

She has to learn 15 verbs for her next class by Collegedegrees360CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If I had to choose one comedy to watch again and again, it would be ‘The Life of Brian’.  For me it is almost the perfect film with its satire of religion, politics, education and modern life.  There is an alien spaceship chase, intelligent wordplay and enough toilet humour to keep the average teenage boy giggling to himself for the rest of his History class.

Perhaps what makes it so good is that it is so relevant and in so many ways.  The latest way in which it has become relevant is in the scene where Brian has been told that to prove he really hates the Romans he has to write on the walls of Pontius Pilate’s palace ‘Romans go home’ or, as it would be in Latin ‘Romanes eunt domus‘.

Of course, those of you who learned Latin would know even without watching the video that ‘Romanes eunt domus‘ is wrong due to all sorts of reasons like tense, voice, conjugations and plurals.

Now in English this is all pretty straightforward.  We have very few conjugations left to master, and very few tenses.  In the present tense we have to add an ‘s’ onto the end of a verb in the third person singular, for example ‘he plays‘ instead of ‘I play’. And that is about it.  The problems, at least with my students, seem to stem from the fact that we use so few tenses for so many things.

The opposite is true for me when learning Portuguese.  There are a lot of tenses to master, and they all have different conjugations to learn depending on if you are talking about one person, a number of people, us, them, etc.

My son is now approaching three and a half and he seems to be taking the approach to all this stuff that I decided to adopt a few years ago: just ignore it and hope everyone will understand you anyway.  For example, the verb ‘ to like’ in the past can be conjugated like this:

English Portuguese
I Liked Eu Gostei
You Liked Voce Gostou
He/She/It Liked Ele/Ela Gostou
We Liked Nós Gostamos
They Liked Eles/elas Gostaram
You (plural) Liked Vocês Gostaram

You can see that when compared to English there is quite a lot to have to get your head around, whether you are 3 years old or the wrong side of 40..

I am not quite sure how to go about teaching my son how to conjugate his verbs properly, but then the only way I know how to do it for myself is to sit down and memorise the bloody things.  His mother and grandmother occasionally correct him, but they don’t seem to be too enthusiastic about it at the moment, and he pays even less attention to them. I have a feeling that he’ll pick up most of the conjugations, and then spend a lot of boring time at school learning the rest, especially the more obscure ones that he’ll use about 5 times in his life.

In the meantime, I can make sure Mr T is ready for more of Monty Python when he is a bit older.

Further Reading

As it has been a while since I last wrote anything there have been a lot of books that I have read but I haven’t made a note of them here.  At the moment I am reading ‘Insurrection‘ by Robyn Young.  It is the first book in a trilogy on Robert the Bruce, a King of Scotland who fought with and then against the English.  It is a very well written book and one that I am surprised that I am enjoying.  I have also learnt a lot about a historical figure, and times, that I knew very little about.  Well worth a read.

 

Language Play: Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival

Language play - Scrabble

Scrabble by jcolman – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hello and welcome to this month’s Blogging Carnival for Raising Multilingual Children.  I asked people to submit things they have written on the theme of Language Play and it has been an honour to be able to read everything, get some inspiration and realise once again how important play is to learning anything, but especially language.

The first post is from Rabble Raiser and looks at how he created flashcards for English, Latin and American Sign Language.  There are a lot of possibilities with these flashcards, including memory games and team games.

Next up is Raising a Trilingual Child who reminds us that it is never too early to play with your language.

Soul Travelers sent in a vlog of her daughter who is living proof that play is important as she uses Mandarin

And we don’t have to use modern technology to play with our language and Mommy Plays English proves with her twist on the classic game of Hangman.

Where is My Mind reports on a number of different games she plays with her kids as she seeks to help them learn Gaelic.

Anti-playing for Language Play

Anti-playing by The Advocacy Project – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In The Playroom use plasticine to incorporate kinaesthetic activities into learning the Arabic alphabet.  if you have active kids, then you could get some great ideas here.

Of course, no blogging carnival on language is complete without Expat Since Birth, and she has risen to the occasion once again with a blog packed full of resources for using poetry.  It also has two great videos from Benjamin Zephaniah, one of my favourite poets who also comes from my home city of Birmingham in the UK.

Another regular contributor to blogging carnivals is Multilingual Parenting who has also provided a piece with 14 different fun activities for word play.

And last but not least, we all know how powerful songs can be when learning any language, and so All Done Monkey has provided us with a way to teach everything about the letter E in Spanish.

 

If you would like more information about what this carnival is all about, please go to The Piri-Piri Lexicon who organises it all.

 

 

A Bilingual Child: Dynamic Language

Into the depths of language acquisition

Into the Deep by Tormod Ulsberg – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s been a while since I posted anything related to the language developments of my son, Mr. T.  First we had the World Cup when all I wrote about was in some way football related.  Then I took a month off to get back some of my motivation for blogging.  Fortunately, I am now up for writing again, but it means I have missed out describing some of the language milestones we have passed.

A toddler’s language is always changing from day-to-day.  But with a toddler who is learning two languages at the same time this changes become even more dynamic.

1. Better Language

For a long while we were slightly concerned that our son’s language was way behind other kids of the same age.  We knew it was probably because he was having to deal with double the vocabulary and grammar at the same time, but there is always that part of the brain than betrays you and says it might be something else.  Fortunately, we managed to avoid that treasonous element and it now seems as if Mr. T is fast catching up with his peers.  He still isn’t quite as good in his Portuguese as they are, but then again they are nowhere near his levels of English.

2. More Portuguese

In March I went to the UK for a few weeks with Mr T and my wife stayed in Brazil.  When we got back to Brazil Mr. T’s language had exploded, and obviously it was nearly all in English.  SInce then, his Portuguese has steadily improved so that now I would say about 90% of the words and phrases he comes out with are Portuguese.

This isn’t to say he has forgotten his English.  I only ever speak to him in English and he understands me perfectly, it’s just that he chooses to answer in Portuguese.  I am not worried about this in the slightest.  I want him to feel happy speaking in whatever language he feels most comfortable. I am not going to force him to speak English and make him feel even worse about using it.  Instead, I am just going to continue speaking in English to him until he is ready to use it himself.

3. Language mixing

The occasions when Mr. T does use English it is often in a sentence with other Portuguese words, or as complete chunks of language.  Some examples of when he has mixed the languages include: ‘Daddy, swimming pool esta ready agora? (‘Daddy, is the swimming pool ready now?’) and ‘Me like Batman roupa,’ (I like Batman clothes).

Some chunks of language that he still uses in English include ‘Let me see,’ ‘I show you,’ ‘Morning now?’ and ‘Rainy day!

And for some reason he seems completely unwilling to use the word ‘voçe’, preferring to use ‘you’ instead.

4. Portuguese accent

This is a strange one.  When he speaks Portuguese he has the perfect accent for someone from the interior of the state I live in.  He lengthens his vowel sounds and rolls his r’s as if had come straight from a farm growing fruit in the middle of nowhere.  This is a mystery to us as none of my wife’s family has this accent and it bares no resemblance to an English accent.

5. Writing

He can now write 3 letters!  The first letter he ever wrote was the letter ‘T’ as it is the first letter in his name.  He can now write the first three letters, and if you squint and use quite a bit of imagination you might even be ale to decipher them.  We haven’t been pushing this on him at all, instead he just seems to be genuinely interested in it.  We painted a picture for a relatives birthday the other day and I asked him to sign it, when he got the 4th letter he told me he couldn’t do it and just put down the pen.  I didn’t encourage him to learn it or give it a try, I just wrote the end of his name so he could see it.

 

Language Play

English: The game Bananagrams, showing pieces ...

English: The game Bananagrams, showing pieces and banana-shaped carrying container. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we learn language?  Why do we learn language?  Once we have learnt language, what do we use it for?

These are all questions I have had to try to answer as a language teacher, and even more so now that I am trying to bring up a bilingual son.  In order to be a language teacher you need to know a t least a bit about the nature of what you are teaching.  In order to be parent who speaks the minority language at home you are obviously going to encounter many language situations on a daily basis.

I became an English teacher about 20 years ago and so I was heavily influenced by the Communicative Approach.  Basically, this approach seeks to answer the above questions by saying it is through the struggle to communicate our needs and wants that we learn language.  Yes, we could just continue to cry at our parents when we want to be fed, but it is far more efficient just to say ‘I want to have my bottle.’

Of course, if that doesn’t work the first time, you can also revert to crying to get what you want.

For a long time this seemed to make a lot of sense.  W edo use language to communicate with others in order to manipulate our surroundings to get what we want.  And if we didn’t have to do this then we might not bother to learn how to use language in the first place.

Then I read a book that totally changed my beliefs about language.  We use language for far more than just communicating our needs.  We also play with language.  In fact, if we take ‘play’ to mean creating something unreal with language, then we might ‘play’ more often than we don’t.

The book was called ‘Language Play, Language Learning‘ by Guy Cook.

Word games, songs, poems are all examples ot language play.  But so are fiction and prayers, crosswords and skipping songs, verbal jousting and punning.

So, for the upcoming blogging carnival for Raising Multilingual Children I would like to hear about the language play activities that you use in a bilingual context.  It can be anything at all, not necessarily with an aim to learn language, but to have fun using and manipulating language.  It could be something you enjoy doing yourself, something your kids like doing or an activity that you do as a family.

Just send me a link with a blog post you have written about playing with your language before midnight GMT of Sunday 24th August and I’ll include it in the carnival.  It could be something you have written especially for the carnival, or something you wrote ages ago.

If you would like more information about what this carnival is all about, please go to The Piri-Piri Lexicon who organises it all.

World Cup 2014: Brazil Is Still Here

Brazil fans after losing to Germany 7-1 in the World Cup

After the game

Shame!  Embarrassment!  Humiliation!  Scandal!  Ignominy!

Words such as these were bandied about on Tuesday evening.  There were tears from more than one person.  A few arguments broke out.  Some wondered out loud if they would be able to go to work the next day.  Others swore the would never leave Brazil again so they wouldn’t have to face the rest of the world.

A couple of people predicted trouble.  There were going to be riots.  The country was going to rise up.  Everything would stop working.  The world was going to end.

It is true that a few people didn’t make it in to work the following day, but that was more down to the effects off too much bad beer than feelings of shame.  Apart from a few isolated incidents, there wasn’t much trouble, the country has risen up (much to the chagrin of people who should know better) and the world hasn’t ended.

Most Brazilians I know have reacted to the 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-final just as I would have predicted, if ever I though such a result were possible.  They have shouted at the TV, cursed Galvão (if they still watch him), cried a bit, opened a beer, cracked a few self-deprecating jokes and got on with it.

One very interesting thing for me was the speed with which jokes and memes hit the internet.  Midway through the 2nd half I was seeing some great stuff on Facebook, and most of it was by Brazilians.  This shouldn’t have been too surprising Brazil is a very connected country, but the speed with which they accepted the inevitable and then started joking about it was impressive.

In newspapers and on TV there is talk of conspiracies and recriminations in the Senate.  But most people I have met have talked about it a bit, and then got on with whatever it is they needed to do.

There does seem to be a bit of a divorce between what the media are talking about and what Brazilians I know are talking about.  This was evident right from the start of the World Cup.  Hardly anybody I spoke to really expected Brazil to win.  There was hope, but no expectation.  There was a realisation that this team was far from a vintage one and that there were other stronger teams in the world.  A few suggested that simply by being at home they would have an advantage that might see them win, but this was never going to be anything to build all your hopes on.

And so now most eyes are turned to the final on Sunday.  Nobody really cares about Saturday’s 3rd/4th place play-off, and most people seem to think it is a waste of time and should never be played.  The only thing that could really upset people now is if Argentina win in Rio de Janeiro, but even that, I think, wouldn’t be the end of the world.

World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.

World Cup 2014: Brazil, Football and Music.

Right back at the beginning of the Word Cup, and the start of my series of posts for MKB World Cup for Kids, I asked people what Brazil was famous for, with the idea that I could write some posts based on these ideas.

One person, on Facebook I think, rightfully mentioned that Brazil is famous for samba but that there is also a lot of other music that Brazil doesn’t get recognition for.  There are great jazz musicians, heavy metal artists, funk singers and DJs that all come from Brazil.  There are also a lot of crap sertanejo, pagode and axé musicians around, but then every country has its fair share of shame in the music stakes.

But as this is the World Cup I thought I’d share some of the music from Brazil about, or inspired by football.  I don’t make any claim to all of them being on my playlist, but I have culled a lot of songs that I think are awful.  If you would like to find out about more songs from Brazilian artists about football you can do a Google search for musica brasileiro futebol.

Jorge Ben Jor – Fio Maravilha

This song is about a footballer whose nickname was Fio Maravilha.  It tells the story of a friendly game in which he was brought onto the pitch in the 33rd minute and scored ‘the goal of an angel’.  Due to legal problem between the singer and the player you’ll often see the song called Filho Maravilha, which would be translated as ‘Wonderful Son’.  This particular version also features the brilliant Gilberto Gil.

Skank – É Um Partido do Futebol (It’s a Football Match)

Skank are a rock/reggae/indie band that started in the early 1990’s.  Despite being very successful in Brazil they haven’t really sought international recognition, which surely would have been theirs if they had tried.

Elis Regina – Aqui É O Pais do Futebol (The Football Country Is Here)

I love Elis!  I think she has to be one of my top two favourite Brazilian musicians.  She sang some great political songs during the dictatorship and managed to get away with it.  I like to think this was because of her voice, but it was probably because the authorities were too stupid to figure out what she was actually singing about.  This isn’t one of her best, but it’s still pretty good.

Pixinguinha – Um a Zero (One Nil)

Pixinguinha was one of the first popular Brazilian musicians.  He started playing in bands and recording songs when he was still a teenager in the early 20th century in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro.  He is credited with bringing choro to the Brazilian masses as well as being around for the birth of samba.

Chico Buarque – O Futebol (Football)

Along with Elis Regina, Chico Buarque is probably my other favourite Brazilian musician.  If you have never heard of him, them shame on you.  For this particular song I chose a video with images of Garrincha, the Brazilian footballer who was probably better than Pele, and definitely loved more than the Viagra-selling-wannabe-politician.

Edu Krieger – Desculpe, Neymar (Sorry, Neymar)

No, this isn~t a lament for Brazil’s star player breaking his back.  Instead, this song is a letter to Neymar telling him that the author will not be supporting Brazil at this World Cup because of the corruption, huge budgets and the problems facing Brazilian society.

Bonus track – Atlético’s Fanáticos drummers

Practically every team in Brazil has its band of drummers and my team, Atlético Paranaense, is no different.  The organised supporters group for Atlético is called The Fanáticos, and they have come in for some criticism for links to hooligans and crime.  They have a decent set of drummers, though.

I have left loads of songs off this list.  If you know of any in particular that you think are better than the ones I have mentioned, please just leave a comment below.

World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

This blog piece is a part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series on World Cup for Kids.  If you would like to follow the World Cup from the point of view of kids around the world then please go and check out the site.  There are bloggers from all of the competing countries as well as articles about Brasil and how to get kids interested in sport.

 

MKB One World Futbol World Cup Giveaway

Football Giveaway

Football Giveaway

As a kid, I played football with anything: stones, empty drinks cans, rolled up socks, space-hoppers and cricket balls.  I was football crazy, so I didn’t really care how much a cricket ball would hurt my foot, I just wanted to kick it.

While kids will kick anything in an effort to play the beautiful game, there is nothing better than playing with a real football.  The problem is, though, that they can be very expensive and tend to deflate very quickly when you shank one into next door’s window.

That hissing sound of air escaping from a ball has to be one of the nightmare sounds from my childhood.

That’s why I am so excited to support One World Futbol in their mission to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide through their nearly indestructible soccer/football. The One World Futbol never needs a pump and never goes flat—even when punctured multiple times—due to its ingenious technology. But what we truly love about their model is for every ball purchased, they donate one to organizations working with youth in disadvantaged communities worldwide.

Our Giveaway

Follow along by using the hash tag #MKBWorldCup!

We have a special giveaway planned during the World Cup with Multicultural Kid Blogs and One World Futbol. It’s unlike a usual giveaway as this time you, our readers, are using your collective power to vote to give the ball away to a community in need!  We need your help so we can donate one of the One World Futbols (generously supplied by One World Futbol) to the Richard Swanson – Breakaway Brazil campaign.  Richard Swanson had a dream of dribbling a football all the way from Seattle in the USA to Brazil for the World Cup, but unfortunately his dream was cut short when he was hit and killed in Oregon just two weeks into his journey.

But here’s the thing–there are 9 blogs participating in this contest, and One World Futbol will donate balls to the three blogs that get the most shares on their posts. So we need your help–please SHARE this post on Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Pinterest and contribute your power, your vote to help us donate this One World Futbol.  Each share make directly from this post is tallied as a vote.  And whoever get the most votes, donates the ball!  Let’s show how strong our voices are with our votes.

We have until midnight ET on Sunday, July 13, to get as many shares as we can on this post.  (The tally will be made based on the number on the social share buttons at the end of this post).  So let’s start now!

Feel free to use #MKBWorldCup when you share!

And don’t forget to visit Multicultural Kid Blogs to help them “unlock” an additional two One World Futbols to donate!

One World Futbol

One World Futbol Project is a B-corporation based in Berkeley, CA and was founded by Tim Jahnigen, the inventor of the One World Futbol. One World Futbol was inspired by refugee youth in Darfur, who had such indestructible spirits – and love for football! – despite their hardships. Tim Jahnigen wanted to give them something more, so he invented a soccer ball that would never need a pump and would never go flat, even when punctured multiple times. One World Futbol Project and its virtually indestructible ball have now reached 160 countries and continue to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide. The Buy One Donate One model makes it easy for consumers to donate these amazing One World Futbols to needy communities.
Here is more on their work in one community in my city of Curitiba in Brazil:

Participating Blogs

The following member blogs are participating in this contest. Visit them to see which organizations they have chosen. Remember, sharing is caring! The 3 blogs with the most social shares (as shown on the share counters on their blog posts) will get to donate a football to the qualified organization they have chosen!

Our Whole Village
Expat Life with a Double Buggy
Entre Compras y El Hogar
Head of the Heard
InCultureParent
MommyMaestra
La Cité des Vents
Trilingual Mama
All Done Monkey

Help “unlock” an additional two One World Futbols at Multicultural Kid Blogs!

 

World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

See all of the posts in the World Cup for Kids project, plus follow our World Cup for Kids board on Pinterest, and join the conversation on Facebook and Google Plus!