Wednesday, November 4, 2009

French - Littles

The littler three were having trouble keeping up with the grammar of Les Oeufs Verts and the French phonics were a bafflement, so I switched them over to oral French lessons until they're more solid with English phonics and spelling.

They're learning the same paradigms as their older siblings, but at a bit of a slower pace.

They've begun learning the parts of the body and left and right. We play Simon dites … or sing Alouette, pointing to various body parts. They've also begun learning the verbs lever (lift up), baisser (put down), toucher (touch), and montrer (show). Sometimes I'll ask them, 'Où est la main gauche?' and they answer, 'Voilà la main gauche!' while pointing to it or holding it up.

They're learning how to count to ten. I'll hold up fingers and they have to tell me as quickly as they can how many I'm holding up. I pulled out the old pre-school number flashcards and they use those for practice, too. I've heard them counting things in French - plates when setting the table, or cups of flour for a batch of pancakes.

Les Couleurs. I simply point to something or hold something up and ask , 'Quelle couleur est-il?' and they answer by saying, 'Il est …', naming as many colors as they can.

Yesterday, we also started working on the names of rooms in the house and parts of a room (floor, door, ceiling, window, etc.). They're most recent paradigm is aller, so we'll be able soon to talk about going into different rooms in the house or touching the wall or the floor.

I have a list of topical vocabulary I want to teach them, along with verbs and some aural constructions (il est … vs. ils sont …, la main droite vs. le pied droit, etc.). We'll simply move through them as we can. I'm also astounded at how much they're learning and how much they all seem to be enjoying it.

An added benefit is that I'm reviewing my French and am filling in some of those holes that have cropped up through my years of not using it.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Negative Numbers

Benjamin has gotten up to adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers. Some of it makes sense, but subtracting a negative has been a bear to wrap our minds around. If zero is nothing, then how can you take away even less than nothing? I was really struggling to find a real life example. Drew came up with a great one and a friend tied it into English for me. I'll be going over this with Ben today - we'll see if he sees it as clearly as I'm beginning to.

Drew's thought - He compared it to heating and air conditioning. Heating is positive numbers and cooling is negative numbers. Turning either the furnace or the AC up (more power) is adding and turning them down (less power) is subtracting. So, turning up the heat is like adding a positive and it gets warmer. Turning down the heat is like subtracting a positive and it gets cooler. Turning up the air is like adding a negative and it gets cooler. Here's the tricky one: turning down the air is subtracting a negative and it gets warmer. I can see this organized on a chart with up & down on the sides and heat & AC on the top (like Mendel's sweet pea genetics), but I don't know how to reproduce it here.

My friend reminded me that, just as in English, two negatives make a positive.

A bunch of other friends sent me other examples that I haven't had time to look closely at yet, but we'll tackle them this afternoon.


Monday, November 2, 2009

French - Olders

We're reading Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon (Green Eggs and Ham). This was a great book to start with because of the sheer amount of repetition. I went through the book and listed out the vocabulary and grammar my students would need to know to puzzle out and understand each section. I pulled paradigms from the verbs in the book and homework assignments were transformations of sentences in the book or the composing of original sentences and questions using the grammar, vocabulary, and paradigms we'd already covered. We're almost finished. So far, here's the grammar we've covered:

basic -er verb conjugation and subject pronouns
negation with ne … pas (Je n'aime pas ce Sam-c'est moi!)
masculine and feminine nouns and articles
singular and plural nouns nouns and articles
making questions with est-ce que …
making questions by inversion
negative questions and subject pronoun placement (N'aimes-tu pas les oeufs verts au jambon?)
elision and liaison
using an infinitive with another noun (J'aime manger les oeufs.)
introduced direct object pronouns (les, en, me) and their placement
future tense
faux future
introduced passé composé

All this will continue to be reviewed as we come across it in our next book: Histoire de Babar.

Our paradigms, so far, include


The transformations I mentioned above were my friend's idea - I'd take a sentence from the book and have the girls re-write it according to a pattern. For example:

Je n'aime pas les oeufs verts au jambon.

The assignment would include:

make positive
change the subject to second person, singular
use est-ce que to make a question
make question with inversion
make the subject plural
make the subject third person, singular or plural
change to false future
change to future
change to passé composé

Sometimes we'd do it as a chain, after one change, the new sentence would become the basis for the next change. Sometimes we'd change the original sentence over and over. This is how the above assignment might look upon completion:

Je n'aime pas les oeufs verts au jambon.

positive: J'aime les oeufs verts au jambon.
2nd person: Tu aimes les oeufs verts au jambon.
question: Est-ce que tu aimes les oeufs verts au jambon?
inversion: Aimes-tu les oeufs verts au jambon?
plural subject: Aimez-vous les oeufs verts au jambon?
3rd person, s: Aime-t-il les oeufs verts au jambon?
false future: Va-t-il aimer les oeufs verts au jambon?
future: Aimera-t-elle les oeufs verts au jambon?
passé composé: A-t-il aimé les oeufs verts au jambon?

I'm stunned at how much we've covered in only six weeks and am looking forward to Babar. Since it was originally written in French, I think we'll all learn a lot! And we're having fun, which means we're actually doing it!