This post should probably be in the Resources section of the HEM website, but, I don’t have behind-the-scenes access to that part of the blog, so it’ll go here. Perhaps a ping could pong over here.
On military homeschooling discussion lists, there is often the question of how to go about learning a foreign language, often German since that’s where many servicemembers are stationed. When we lived in Germany, one technique I used, after we had acquired a reasonable stock of words* in our minds, was to listen to audio recordings of familiar English-language stories that have been translated into German.
[* The beginner materials that I found most friendly for collecting that “reasonable stock of words” were The Learnables immersion lessons. The audio lessons are all in the foreign language being taught, with the lesson ‘explanations’ being cartoon drawings of whatever each story is about. In this way, there is no need to translate words. The acquisition process is similar to how we each learned our mother tongue: demonstration, listening and repetition.]
When I started looking for books to supplement our Learnables lessons, I got a library card from the library near the town where we lived. One audio book that I remember checking out was Pippi Langstrumpf – Pippi Longstocking. But checking out books from libraries in other countries is not so easily done from the U.S. where most American homeschoolers live. To get around that problem, I now use the German Amazon site to buy books and (now) CD recordings. As a very noble gesture to make sure audio CDs will play on CD players made in another country (DVDs have region codes to keep them from being played universally), I ordered Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (Philosopher’s Stone).
Well [she says archly, with a twinkle in her eye]. The order arrived, and yes, German audio CDs play on American CD players, so this blog post ‘is a go.’
To make ordering easier for anyone interested, it is helpful to have an American Amazon site open in another browser window to aid understanding what you’re looking at (the various buttons are in the same places on both sites). Another effective help, is to use Babel Fish to translate instructions on the pages. The German Amazon site will accept payments from American credit cards.
Other audio books besides the Harry Potter series (which is long enough to give an effective course in listening to German) are Alice im Wunderland (Alice in Wonderland), Wilbur und Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), Der Zauberer von Oz (The Wizard of Oz), and Pu der Br (Winnie the Pooh). The very adventurous can try the German translation of Tolkien’s, Das Silmarillion.
For regular reading, the above books are available as dead tree books. Additional titles available are books by Beverly Cleary, Mary Osborne Pope, Louis Sachar (Holes – Lcher), and Der Herr der Ringe (The Lord of the Rings). For checking to see if your favorite book (!) (!!) (!!!) (??) has been translated (or not, since I don’t think Johanna Spyri wrote in English), use the author’s name for the search.
Harry is available in French, as are Alice (book), The Brothers Grimm with “le Petit Chaperon Rouge” (Little Red Riding Hood — book), Baum’s Le Magicien d’Oz (The Wizard of Oz), Barrie’s Peter Pan, and Louisa May Alcott’s Les quatre filles du docteur March (Little Women).
Tintin’s a gimme, because the cartoons were originally written in French.
Oddly enough, the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder popped up on the French Amazon site in both French and German. Interesting. (oh, the ways to fritter away a day on a computer — which, finding any audio story-CDs in French does quite well)
Picking up a foreign language is much easier when you’re working with familiar material. The sense of the story doesn’t have to be extracted from foreign words along with the meaning of each of those foreign words. There’s no sense making a difficult process even harder than it has to be. Grammar can be introduced after the language is ‘in the head’ if the learner wants to continue mastering the language.
Anyone notice babies diagramming sentences?