Monday, March 28, 2016

back to the routine

I can still read better than B can, but I think he is more comfortable than I am with speaking in Japanese. Which is actually funny, because I know how to speak properly. He just uses the words he knows - and he knows more words than I do - and sort of jams them into sentences.

The funny part if that he gets annoyed when I don't understand what he's saying. So he says something like: "fast going leg sick" and I don't immediately understand what he's talking about. He acts like I'm ignoring him, and when I finally figure out what he's talking about and respond, he acts like I should have known all along. ("Why are you going so fast? It's making my leg hurt.")

So all the articles you read about kids learning languages faster because they aren't afraid to make mistakes are true, at least in my kid's case.

During the break, we got almost nothing done, so this week is going to be a bit rushed. At least he didn't get any homework from his classes, so I don't have to figure that out. Also during the break, two of his friends moved away. Both families moved to Japan, so at least we will have more Japanese pen pals, but he will miss his friends. One of them is from his kindergarten class and one is from the grade above. The older boy is the one we walk home from school with on most days.

People move in and out of here quite a bit, so while it's nice to live in a multicultural community, it's hard because there are always families moving away. B doesn't really understand and thinks his friends will come back.

The first friend he had who moved away was also from Japan. It was quite cute because he decided to send the friend a card. We took it to the post office because I wasn't sure of the postage as it was an odd sized envelope, and B told the man behind the counter, "I want to send this to my friend S. He lives in Japan now". He fully expected that the man would personally deliver it, I guess like they do in cartoons.

We have been practicing transportation words. I'm trying to give him new vocabulary in sentences now, instead of just telling him the word. I think that will help him incorporate words more quickly. So now every time he does an action, I say the entire sentence rather than just the verb or noun I am focusing on.

This post is all over the place, but it kind of matches the rest of my life, which is sort of all over the place. Tomorrow we resume our regular routine, which will be nice.

Monday, March 21, 2016

How much the second language is costing (in money)

Bilingualism can be expensive. I don't think French will cost as much, since we can teach him a lot at home and he has several friends who are learning French whom he can practice on, but if he changes his mind and picks Mandarin instead, it will cost more than Japanese because we have no background knowledge at all.

A lot of Japanese has to be outsourced. I'm finding that there is a lot that I wasn't even aware that I didn't know, so I'm grateful that we have the classes available. We have spent more on books than I thought but because they have to come from Japan, they are more expensive. I do borrow some books from the library and should probably do more of that rather than buying because expenses are mounting and we are running out of space. I am also considering just doing one school next year because he wants to do a martial art and there are only so many days of the week, but we are concerned about decreasing because he really has progressed a lot.

Here is this school year's breakdown (August 2015 - present):

Preschool camp during summer, 3 weeks, half days: $420
School 1 (2.5 hours per week): $780 for the year
School 2 (2.25 hours per week): $550 so far (I think, haven't dug out the receipts)
We have to sign up for the next set so that will be another $260.

Books: $300
Plus we received some books as gifts.
We have bought a few workbooks, maybe $20

In previous years, we spent less:
School last year: $770
Books last year: $250

The year before he just had music class and a babysitter who spoke Japanese but we bought more books.

The first year he just had the music class and he didn't have that for the whole year. We spent about $200 on books.

We're pretty lucky that we can afford these.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

During the break

We're a few days into Spring Break, and it already feels like it is flying by. We haven't gotten as much done as I had hoped, although because the weather has been nicer I've been trying to get lots of outside time in.

His last class before Spring Break for his Saturday school was the school festival. B was interested in more of the activities this year, so that was fun. It's still a bit confusing and we missed the story time because it took me awhile to figure out the announcement and then B walked the opposite way so we had to follow him. He had a good time though, and his teachers read to him a lot, so it's not a big deal.

I've been making him little reading worksheets by writing a few words on a page. Each word is for an object, and then I put the toys that match the words next to the paper. So this morning I had a tiny toy sushi, a small plastic star, and a little bead butterfly. I had written the words on the paper. When B found it at his spot, he put each object next to its word. It's simple and doesn't feel like work to him.

We've also been listening to a vocabulary CD in the car. It's one of those ones that comes with a phrase book. I've picked up a few words, and I think B has as well.

We're doing well on the non-language goals for Spring Break. I'm going to have to put more effort into his language practice, especially as there are no classes and I would like him to speak in Japanese at least 7 hours a week. (30 would be awesome but at this time does not seem possible).

Friday, March 11, 2016

The time Google Translate was not helpful

B has homework for his Japanese classes. I didn't think this was a's kindergarten. He has to draw a picture or practice writing a character or circle the bigger object.

This week's homework was about opposites. There were pictures and sentences to go with the pictures. The problem was, I had no idea what the sentences were saying. I could read the words, but a few of the opposites eluded me. One was 2 pictures of a boy at a crosswalk, with the light going red or green. I could tell this part, but I didn't know what 'susumu' meant nor did I know what the opposite of it was (I guessed at susume meaning go or proceed so I thought maybe it was wait or stop?)  I could figure out the one about the turtle neck and the giraffe neck and most of the other ones. A couple of them B could explain to me once I read them aloud to him.

B refused to accept that we wouldn't be able to finish his homework, as "sensei won't be impressed if I don't know all the words".

So there I was, running around just before pickup, trying to find a parent who speaks Japanese. Luckily I found a mom who could check my answers and explain the two that I didn't know. (And now I know that 'stop' is 'tomaru'.)

It feels more obvious now that I'm not panicking. I guess I'm spending this weekend studying.

Although - I just arranged with a friend to do a language exchange. She will teach me some Mandarin and I will help her improve her English. It should be fun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

It's almost a craft

B is not very interested in crafts. He will draw a picture as a gift, and when he does, it's an interesting picture with lots of animals, but he generally chooses other things to do.

However, he's very much of the mindset that he'll try anything once. So this morning we made and labelled little cutout shapes.

I drew the outline and he added details. It's a good way to get the product he wants while still getting him to do some drawing. Eventually he drew a star by himself.

After we stuck the hiragana stickers on the back, he tried to fit the shapes back into the paper to make a puzzle, but I think we had flipped the paper in between the fish and the car so it didn't work. A puzzle would be a good idea if I could make it. I have one of those blank puzzles. 

He is planning on selling these. Prices range from $6 to $1000. 

We were both pleased by the results. And it seems like a good way to practice his hiragana recognition. I'm not sure he will want to do it again but it was a pleasant activity. I'd say he recognizes shi, ku, and n of the characters we were looking for today. He found the other characters by singing the hiragana song. (The characters were in order on the sheets)

I found the stickers at the Japanese $2 store. They are labelled seals. I'm probably going to have to buy more, because we use 'n' a lot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Cute things

This week skating ended, which frees up an afternoon. B somewhat enjoyed it - it was a bit harder than he expected. He wanted to quit, and I told him that he could but that he might want to be able to skate. He kept going, although he did think it was too hard. 

I've been getting lots of pictures and notes. The notes in English are whatever letters he decided to put down with his name (he then asks us what it says) but the notes in Japanese he asks for help with, so they're little messages. One says "I love mom". He's still in the stage where he puts letters wherever they will fit, and he does this in Japanese as well. 

I am making little books. I fold sheets of paper in half, then stack them together with a thicker piece on top and sew them together in the middle. I covered the seam on the outside with a piece of scrapbook paper. This looks nice but I think I will go get washi tape and use that. Washi tape is so fun but it's not something I've had a use for before. Now I just need to decide what to use the books for. 

I was thinking about making a hiragana workbook, but we have a couple of good ones. At least one of the little books can be a vocabulary workbook though - I can draw/trace pictures of things and then write the word under or beside it. It's nicer for B if there are not as many on a page, and I can use more individualized objects - things he likes to play with or to eat or things he owns.