Thursday, October 04, 2007

Etude de Français et d'autres choses

Clearing out the basement, we came across a French newspaper in a box of old computer parts:

So we sat down and translated bits of it, based on my O Level French and a Collins French-English dictionary we have here. We could have used BabelFish, but that would have been too easy! Zara's been wanting to learn French for a while, but not in a classroom or from a textbook so I've been putting bits into conversation as and when I can - she seems to pick it up better that way.

The box of old computer bits came from some of our friends' relatives in France. They had a clear-out of parts and sent them our way, knowing we collect those kinds of things and we're very grateful that they did.

It's rare we've had to spend any money on computer parts - much less computers. Most of us here can build them quite easily - though I keep forgetting how and having to work it out from scratch again! The main problem is compatability. A certain mainboard won't be compatable with various chips and so on. Tom is our resident expert on such matters - he seems to miraculously just know which bits will and won't work together. Here's another part of his room, to illustrate the point ;-)

The result of all this is a networked broadband Internet connection in every room of the house, which has been invaluable from an education point of view. One good way of home-educating a large family on a shoestring budget is to learn to build computers! I do love books:

- but they can't compete with the Internet for sheer volume of information and accessibility.

Lyddie and I have also been working on her reading skill and numbers, but the numberwork seems to come so easily and the reading has hit a plateau. We're just concentrating on 3-letter words. She's got the individual letter sounds sorted out, and can say, for example:

"Ber - i - ner" but putting those sounds together: "B - i - n" to get "Bin" isn't coming yet. I wonder if I'm rushing her somehow, but she regularly asks me to write the words and help her to read them, so I'm not sure. I can't very well say no! The word-writing came from some other (English) newspaper reading we were doing. Well, I was doing it regularly - I like to settle in an armchair with a newspaper for a short time every day - and she would clamber onto my knee and ask me to help her work out what the words in the headlines were saying. This got us talking about the actual stories too, with the associated whys and wherefores, but I said: "Shall we just do shorter words?" because she was struggling with the longer ones. So maybe I did take control of the process there. Hmmm.

Yes, this month's new things for us here are clotheslines running across our bookshelves, pegging up discarded clothes, whichever sums or words we're working on and paintings to dry. It started off just as a place to dry paintings but then became useful in all those other ways. The blackboard seems to be just being used for pictures now:

- our 'sums on the blackboard' phase having passed as quickly as it arrived.

I've also got to quickly write in praise of whiteboards. Just the plain, ordinary, non-electric variety. We invested in a few little ones just to keep around the place and they're great - people seem to like writing on them. There's one for shopping, another for things we want to do. Actually, there are two for things we want to do. And some with fridge poetry words on them, though they've been neglected in favour of the ones with pens.

We've also got hopscotch chalked on the front path. I had a picture of that but can't find it now. Ah well, I'm sure you can imagine it. And made pumpkin pie. Today we're off mushroom and firewood foraging, I think. It feels like that sort of day.


Blogger Elaine said...

JR watches higgly town for language , her choice she found it when browsing and it covers basics in a fun way which is all she wants at the moment.

10:54 am, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

I was so disappointed when I realised that you weren't going to continue the entire post en français.

I am pretty much convinced that if you want to learn a foreign language to a good standard, there really is no alternative to a pretty hefty chunk of textbook based study to learn the grammar, structure and syntax of the langage. From what I have seen, even living and working in a country for many years won't replace that.

However, Zara is old enough (?) to sign up for evening classes and I think the conversational type class might be a good route to try. I am not saying that the hard, textbook bit is the place to start, just that you need to do it at some point.

12:16 pm, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes, we've got the textbooks. She does know they're there. She also knows about college courses, but she doesn't want a GCSE in the subject just now - only to learn a few conversational words.

I'd learn it from scratch too, personally, just because I prefer to learn things that way. But I am not Zara.

12:19 pm, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Mrs Darcy said...

What kind of mushrooms do you forage? Do you have any photos?

4:57 pm, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

I was really thinking more of the adult type evening class, where they teach the kind of language skills required for buying food and beer. :-)

6:26 pm, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Lou, we've had ceps, ink caps, shaggy ink caps, blewits, fairy ring champignons and parasols but the easiest to find around here is the Jew's Ear fungus (though I heard Tommi on Wild Gourmets call it some other kind of more PC ear last week! Forgotten what word she used..) - just because there are so many old elders around.

No luck today though! All we managed to find were some men with guns shootin rabbits and hares. I don't really object to that in principle - except when it's near my children! Grrr.

7:11 pm, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Minnie said...

I could not pass O level French - I just seemed to have this block with it... and so did the Institute of Linguists in French at Hfd Tech instead. (don't know if that place is still it part of the uni now?) Anyway, no writing, just conversation on this course and it was great. I learned lots, did get a good pass AND met lots of nice people.

I am envious of your computer setup. Could do with someone networking us:O)

9:52 pm, October 06, 2007  
Blogger Clare said...

Would Zara find it helpful to find a french penpal (keyboard pal?) to correspond with?

10:39 am, October 07, 2007  
Blogger Lucy said...

We are at a similar stage of being able to sound out letters but not really blend them together. It seems so strange because from where I am it's all so logical. Am glad it's not just us, was thinking I might be doing something wrong.

11:17 pm, October 07, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Minnie, yes the Tech's still there! I did my teaching certificate there. Horrible building! Some great tutors there though. Oh and I can recommend just getting a router and plugging all your PCs into it - it's easy nowadays with Windows XP, which does all the programming bit automatically. We had to work all that stuff out manually the first time around - it took days! Taught us a lot though. Most of which I've forgotten, but I know the lads haven't.

Clare, ooh I don't know. Hadn't thought of suggesting it, but I will now :-) Thanks!

Lucy, yes it's weird isn't it? She's saying the sounds and just not hearing the word. I'm sure it must be a stage that just passes of its own accord. She's getting fed up with it now and telling me that she can read it, but is keeping it secret so we shouldn't try any more. That's fair enough, I suppose :-)

11:50 pm, October 07, 2007  
Blogger dawniy said...

I hope you don't mind me popping this here. i hope you'll feedback what you think .
Because we have an adult blogring - I've just made Young Peoples Home Ed Blogring
if you visit you will find the links box for our younger ones to join in with a ring for them :)
The blogring can also be found on

dawniy xx

2:23 am, October 08, 2007  
Blogger Fiona said...

Sorry to butt in on the phonics thing, but I have to say I don't find sounding out and blending to be very logical at all ! Particularly with non-phonetic English,might be different with Spanish or Japanese or something ? I think some of us just go for whole word recognition, so distinctive long words are actually "easier" than monosyllables.

Just my 2p !


7:06 am, October 08, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

It was Gatto who sold me on phonics with this chapter, amongst other things, like my oldest's conviction that without them he couldn't have learned to read. Whole word recognition is ok for some children I think, but useless for a lot of people with dyslexic traits, for example.

I learned to read by IPA! That was just silly.

But yes I do think the ability to decode words is important and Lyddie has enjoyed Letterland.

7:25 am, October 08, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

Is it more of a 'sit on mum's lap and do something quiet together' thing than an actual desire to figure the words out? In which case it might be that she wants you to do the putting-together as part of the collaborative process?

I like dd3's method with languages of putting dvd movies on in other languages.

2:11 am, October 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Could be, Tracy and yes that's a brilliant idea. I'll tell Zar.

Have you changed your email addy? I sent you a new password to the private blog ages ago but I don't think you got it.

7:50 am, October 09, 2007  

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