Grey

It’s a grey morning definitely in need of a few smiles.

We have both just sniggered a bit. Trying to help Hawklad with his school at home day. It’s French. I’m not much help really. German yes I could help. Speaking gibberish certainly could help. French not really. It doesn’t help that French is one of the subjects that he isn’t getting much support with these days. So he often just has to look at the online class chat system. It’s sometimes used in class and can give at least an indication of what the lesson is supposed to be all about. Maybe even provide some of the questions the class are working on. Well that’s the theory…..

This morning no set work provided so all he can do is crack on with other subjects or find things to learn about and wait… Today he was researching the American Civil Rights movement while waiting for anything from French. Then a class comment was posted.

ma belle-mère a bu trop de champagne et ma grand-mère est tombée du cgair.

Oh my….Dad. Whats that supposed to be”

Wow is there anything else.

No Dad just that. Any ideas apart from it’s about a Grand Mother and a Step Mum”

It surely can’t be what I think it means. Have a go at translating it with your dictionary

Dad it means thanks to Google “My step mum has drunk too much booze and my grandmother has clearly been at it as well and fallen off the chair…. “

Yes I thought it kinda did mean that.

Ok Dad as given my family world I am unlikely to need those French words, can I ignore it and get back to Martin Luther King.”

Yes you certainly can……

Doolittle

I think I’m starting to channel my inner Dt Doolittle. Fit those without this gift can I translate the look I’m getting from the sheep.

Will you stop taking photos and please go and fetch the biscuits. Doris is in the other field so you don’t need the Digestives. Now be a good chap and get the packet of Rich Tea. By the way you really don’t suit cycle shorts…

So that’s what I did. It was biscuits for all our wooly jumper friends.

If only my Doolittle skills extended to people. Would have come in useful this morning. A mid morning knock at the door and a delivery driver. As I opened the door she preceded to talk to me in a foreign language. For many seconds….. I just smiled and nodded. She pointed to the parcel on the floor and started to walk off. She suddenly stopped turned round and in English said

Please tell I haven’t just spoken to you in polish”

Having confirmed that she spent the next two minutes apologising. Apparently she forgets some times. And with that said she said goodbye and left. I still don’t have a clue what she said in polish though. She forgot to mention that….

Curve ball

Definite curve ball from school today.

I have wrote about the problems Hawklad has been having with French classes at school. The way the subject is taught just don’t suit him. Dyslexia complicates the learning process. Being at home adds to the difficulties.

I have been trying to get the school to modify the teaching approach in this one subject. Even switch the language to one which better suits him and one he is more interested in. Basically met with a brick wall. Then today’s curve ball.

The school doesn’t feel that he will be able to pass exams in this subject due to his learning issues. So they are now recommending that he drops the subject completely. Undertake no language learning at all. He would use the French class time to work on his other subjects.

So rather than try other learning routes they just want to ditch the subject. I’m kind of speechless. Will let Hawklad decide what happens next. BUT my initial take is that

…..Sadly it reflects the lack of flexibility in the UK teaching system. It also reflects the general approach schools take with those pupils who have learning disabilities.

Jim Morrison

Definitely been one of those mornings. One of those French mornings…..

It’s taken us 8 weeks to work out that class has been accessing a learning resource that we didn’t know about. So two months later Hawklad finds himself behind. I guess it was one of those things that was discussed in class but not passed on. Deep joy.

I can officially say that this subject has become a disaster.

Anyway I think the time it would take to catch up would be better spent on other activities. Maybe even playing with a non school sanctioned language app. Let’s see if we can find one that works for him. That would be a start. At least it would start to give him the basic skills and bugger the school tests in this subject.

I must admit that this so mirrors my time at school. I so struggled to learn French. Just wouldn’t stick. In the end sitting my final French exam was a bit of a Hail Mary Pass. Not much hope.

But strange things can happen.

Half the exam was the expected shambles. A series of random guesses really. Then the final question accounting for 40% of the marks. Read a long French newspaper article and answer questions in English. I should have had zero chance. But unbelievably the article was about Jim Morrison and The Doors. OMG I know every answer without reading the text.

Two months later I received my certificate in French. I had scraped a PASS. Must have got a perfect score on the final question and winged 10 marks from my other guesses. Yes I owe my French Qualification to Rock Music.

Francais

So the dawn of another school at home week. Let’s ignore the fact this is a sunset…..

School at home is kind of working for some subjects. That’s often down to the availability of the online content, the accessibility of the material and how interesting the material is. Unfortunately some subjects are just not working. Prime amongst all of them is FRENCH.

Le Francais ne fonctionne pas

This is not something new. I remember struggling with the subject at school. The teaching method seems to be very dry. This works great for some kids but not others. But in the UK we are still focused on delivering one teaching approach to all pupils regardless of it works or not. One day we will shift to tailoring learning to suit the individual child rather than the needs of the Government.

Our Son is dyslexic. That presents significant issues when trying to learn another language. For a start certain languages are less transparent than others. Presenting more issues with learning pronunciation, spelling, grammar and word order. English and French are two really difficult languages in that respect. Potentially presenting greater challenges for those with dyslexia. Languages like German, Italian and Spanish may present easier routes to learning.

Our Son has Aspergers. The impact on language learning is not entirely clear. It largely depends on the individual. In our sons case he can visually remember lots of facts and instantly remember then. Not so good if it involves text. Visual imagery is best.

Then we come to the learning approach. What is the current approach. Trying to remember words parrot fashion. Translating text. Writing out sections of text. Old school spelling tests. Then expecting that to be brought together into listening and answering comprehension questions on spoken dialogue. Penalising errors. That just isn’t working for our Son. In his words

“I’m now dyslexic in two languages.”

Maybe a better approach is to let the child pick a language first…..

Then offer a range of multi sensory learning methods. See which ones work and which don’t. Every child will be different. Maybe our son would benefit from concentrating on listening and speaking. Focusing any other learning on more graphical approaches. He loves history. Maybe try to incorporate history about the country into the language learning.

That’s the ideal world.

But back to reality. The current school approach. I keep stressing to school that the current approach is just not working. He is quickly losing interest and patience with French. Eventually school has said that it will see what it can do. It looks like they will try to add some more explanations to the text and potentially video some parts of the classroom lesson. Problem is that it’s still the same teaching method just with added detail. It’s a bit like when you go abroad and struggle to make yourself understood. So what do you do. Often you don’t try to change what you are saying, you just end up saying exactly the same thing but now shouting it. So I’m not entirely hopeful of progress.

If and when we do go full homeschooling then language learning will be the very first thing we change. Find something that works for our Son. It has to be that way.

Ca doit etre mieux que ca

Ski Jumping

This is a special rose. It’s very old and has moved houses several times. Every year I have a goal of keeping it going for one more season. Thankfully it looks after itself.

I’ve talked about trying to become multilingual. Its not easy for me as I even struggle with English. German is my next best language. But currently my learning has been a little unfocused. No real time limited goal to strive for. Previously it was a trip to Switzerland which would spur on the German. Sadly not been there since 2015. I’ve kinda drifted. So I need a new language goal.

At Christmas I will attempt to read a book in German. It might take me ages but I’m going to give it a go. So which book?

I have always loved Alpine Sports. The three which are closest to my heart are Skiing, Biathlon and Ski Jumping. Ski Jumping always seemed the most atmospheric sport to a young lad from boring Yorkshire. Yorkshire is a Cricket loving place. Now you might understand why Ski Jumping looked so cool to me. Over the years I’ve got to understand this cool sport so well. Can name all the hills, the competitors and the coaches. One coach in particular always fascinated me. I loved his passion for the sport. The former Austrian coach Alexander Pointner. But he also has a really tragic back story. His daughter committed suicide. He has battled depression for years. When I’ve heard him talk he has real insight on life when you are at your lowest. He is brutally honest. So that’s the book then.

Now I have a goal. December 1st, I start reading this book.

Words

I’ve always wanted to be multilingual. To effortlessly switch between languages. To hold actual flowing conversations in another country. So far that goal has eluded me. But there is always hope. There has to be hope. Es muss Hoffnung geben.

At the moment German is my hope. I’ve found a memory technique which is for the first time allowing me to learn words and the tricky part – the gender. So my hopes have started to rise. So how many words do I actually know. So I counted them. Around 450…. Sounds good but apparently you need about 10000 words to be truly fluent. What’s the German for oh pants. Possibly oh hose

Still it’s a start. Once I’ve mastered German, I’m going to move onto my next big challenge. Master English. Actually that might be beyond me……

Over my head

One of the advantages of not cutting the hedge. A bit of overhead yellow is always very nice.

Dad this is just going over my head.”

He wasn’t referring to the hedge as well…

“This is refusing to enter my brain. Sometimes dyslexia is a right pain in the butt….”

He was referring to French. In particular today’s lesson. All about grammatical gender. It’s not an easy concept for English speaking numpties like me as we don’t tend to get so focused on gender and nouns. Which is most odd as our language is heavily derived from Anglo-Saxon and French, which are. So you can hear my brain chug away when it sees

A simple word like HAPPY become in French either HEUREUX (masculine) or HEUREUSE (feminine).

Hard for me, a nightmare for a dyslexic. So a lesson of writing these out for an hour is just torture for him. Yes you can try and learn the rules. But when you struggle to pick up word and letter patterns – it’s not much help.

Hey Dad I’m dyslexic in multiple languages. Surely I get a badge for that.”

We should really be switching dyslexic kids to different learning techniques. Maybe focusing just on visual and verbal learning. Using fun, online teaching resources. Finding out what works and what doesn’t work for each industry child. Unfortunately teachers are given so little flexibility by our Government. They have to stick to the national curriculum. Sadly the factory education approach doesn’t work for many. So we try to make the best of it. But it’s not easy seeing your child struggle.

It feels like you are holding onto the side of a giant bolder as it tumbles down a hill. Not in control and just grimly trying not to fall off. But eventually you reach the bottom. You can take a breather before you start tumbling again. I guess the secret is to make the most of the flat bits. Grab that ice cream and think of ways to make the tumbling down hill more fun. Must be possible. Remember being a kid and rolling down the slopes. As long as you avoided the nettles and animal droppings, it was the best laugh ever. So we will put our thinking hats on, how to make learning French fun.

Bonne journee (yes I know I’ve dropped a mark for the missing thingy off the e, but my keyboard doesn’t do French)….

Please note one of my great regrets is that I’m not multilingual. I love talking to people who can effortlessly switch languages. So I will keep going. You never know, one day…

Pink legged German

He survived his challenges today. Staggeringly our French telling the time trick probably picked up a few marks. To be fair to school son was provided with a scribe for the English exam. No scribe for French. Will have to find out why.

I survived today’s challenges. Made it out in one piece from the bizarro world which was work. Then made it round the 12k run. Once again the view helped lift the soul.

Well clearly the bizarro work world had rubbed off on to me. On the run I was listening to my German language course. It seemed to be the right thing to do as son would be currently sitting his French exam. It was basically going in one ear and straight out of the other one. A passing cyclist then flagged me down and asked if I knew where the nearest cafe was. I suspect he wasn’t expecting the following response.

Guten Tag. Es ist diese Straße runter. Über 5 Kilometer

As I noticed the cyclist’s bewildered I just repeated my amateurish German but this time a bit slower and a bit louder. Then it dawned on me. What a wally. All very embarrassing. What was even more embarrassing was that when I finally switched to English I’m not sure the cyclist was any more the wiser. Although we where in Yorkshire he clearly didn’t understand my Yorkshire accent. As we speak the poor man is probably lost somewhere on the moors cursing that useless German in his pink leggings. Still it took my mind off Son’s ongoing French based anxieties.

I will leave the last words to a modern day Philosopher.

Well Dad I survived. The problem with the French Exam was that it’s basically in French. English is hard enough but French. It might as well have been in a foreign language.”