Inspired by Fluent in 3 Months which I recently read, I have decided to really work on learning another language this summer. The specific language may surprise you. It's not French, though I've had the most experience with it. It's not Italian, though I've studied it for a year. It's neither Vietnamese or Mandarin, though they are some of my children's first languages. It's Spanish. I settled on this for the sole reason that if one has a native speaker of a language living with them, one should take advantage of the fact. HG is a native speaker and I don't feel too self-conscious speaking a new language with her. Plus, she is right there for any grammar and pronunciation help. Logistically these are great reasons, but the deeper reason is that if I learn to speak Spanish I can communicate even better with someone I care deeply about. HG has become a part of our family and while her English is now pretty darn good, I would love to honor her by learning her language as well.
But, argh! I am reminded as to how slow going the very initial language learning stages are. I do not enjoy the part where every single thing seems new and awkward. And that's even with some significant experience with Romance languages. It's sheer mental labor that needs to be done every day. It makes my brain hurt. The little people in the house are joining in on the fun and are pretty good with about five phrases that they say all the time. It doesn't seem to make their brains hurt. I think that's the real difference between learning a language as a child and learning language as an adult. It feels less like work when you are little and learning a new language solely through conversation.
P. is the only one who is charting a new course and has been working on learning Japanese. She has always been interested in all things Japanese, including manga, and it is fun to watch her broaden her interest by working on the language.
It looks as though this is our summer curriculum... intensive language learning for all. Not a bad way to spend the summer, huh?