Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Teaching My Little Boy English (Lots of video!)

   Best thing I've done in this country - hands down - is to teach a toddler how to speak English.
   Katleho is my 5-year-old host brother, and my best Sesotho teacher. I'm his best English teacher.
   Our lessons have been very organic over the course of my two-year service. They started out with simple conversation and phrases. Basic English like greetings, feelings and food.
   Now, Katleho can express himself (I'm hungry), tell me what he wants and needs (I want food) and boss me around (Get out my house!).  
   Sometimes, I record our conversations. Peep my big boy's game:

Video 1

This video was shot around December of last year. We started very organically with simple phrases and greetings like "Good morning" and "How are you?" He picks up on English very quickly. 

Video 2

I shot this video earlier this year, maybe in February. Katleho's English skills were progressively getting better. He'd moved from greetings to simple sentences. Here, he was on his way to school one toasty morning. I love it when he's all clean and neat. I just wanna gobble him up!

Video 3

I probably shot this video around April or May. He was nervous. We'd been speaking English full-time at this point. I also began reading Katleho bedtime stories every night. He loves Dr Seuss and Barney books. 

Video 4

Sorry for the poor video quality. Katleho was annoying me a little bit with his aggressiveness but he is a smart kid. You see him here teaching his buddy, Motseba, how to speak English. He often does this with his playmates in village.

Video 5

OK, I was a little less prickly here but you hear the kids, especially Katleho. That dude is clever!

Video 6

And here's my boo teaching his classmates their ABCs.

   Studies show that children learn languages better than adults because their brains are more fluid and they're not hard set on the rules and rudiments of grammar like adults are. I wrote about this during my journalism days.
   That's why shows like Dora the Explorer work well with children. 
   Makes sense with my little boy, too.
   Nightly bedtime stories have now replaced our UNO ritual.
   He loves Sesame Street and fairy tales. I often ask him in English questions about the stories: What color is his hat? What do you see on the page? Is she happy or sad?
   He answers as best as he can until the last page.
   "Read again," he'll say. "I want another book."

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