How can I help my child learn German???
As a parent who's struggling through helping my son with "Everyday Mathematics," I know it's not always easy to help your children with homework. And at the high school level, it's even harder, particularly if you don't even speak German. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to guide your child through language study.
1. Take an interest: Ask your child what they are learning in class. (We do a lot of fun projects and everything is based on an essential question such as "What would my day be like if I were in Germany?" or "How do choices I make now affect my future?"
2. Flash cards: Encourage your child to make and use flash cards, either on index cards, or online (with sites such as Quizlet and StudyStack). Go through the cards with them at breakfast, bedtime, or in the car.
3. Try to speak the language with your child. Ability level does not matter it is the comfort level that fosters proficiency. At the dinner table with the entire family is a great way for your child to demonstrate and teach what he/she is learning in class. Playing with the language is an important step towards gaining confidence.
4. Have your child teach you the material being learned. One of the best ways to master material is to have to teach it to someone else.
5. Watch and Listen! Due to the wonders of technology, we are fortunate to have access to German-speaking channels online. (Look for links in my "Resources" section!) Even if they don’t understand everything, watching and listening is an excellent way to train the ear to the rhythm and pronunciation of the language being studied and increase fluency. Reading newspapers, subtitles and magazines is also a great idea to help become familiar with the people, places and culture of the Hispanic world.
6. Use the computer: Encourage your child to use the multitude of websites I have listed on my website. There are many different games and grammar quizzes to try out and practice. Students can even work on listening and speaking by watching video clips.
7. Travel and use the language: IF the opportunity arises to travel to a German-speaking country, allow your child the experience of total immersion in the language/culture (HINT HINT: We're taking a trip next spring!!). But even without going to Europe, you can find opportunities to experience the German culture: think about the VonTrapp ski resort in Stowe, VT, the Pennsylvania German (aka Amish) communities of Lancaster County, VA, or the "German Village" in Columbus, OH. All have wonderful showcases of German culture and even native German speakers.
9. Enjoy the experience: It is understandable that your child may not enjoy German class all the time, but please encourage your child to get the most out of each class. Participate in every activity and seek help as needed. Keeping an open mind will aid your student in working to the best of their ability. Remind your child that "effective effort" is much more of a key to learning than any misconceptions about whether or not someone is "good at languages" or not!
10. Seek extra help as needed. Falling behind or feeling lost will cause your child to feel overwhelmed and prevent your child from mastering the German language. Help is always available to those that ask!
11. Study with a Peer: Encourage your child to find a study buddy. Maybe you?
12. Monitor the homework: Homework or rather “home lessons” are meant to reinforce and review the day’s learning. They do not "count" for much toward the final grade, but daily reinforcement is a crucial part of progressing in the language. Check that your child has completed the assignment. Attempting the assignment the night it is assigned will allow time for your child to ask questions before the assignment is due. Homework assignments are posted on the daily Agenda file (projected in class every day and also accessible through the link on my course page).
[Suggestions adapted from and with permission of Mme Stephanie Carbonneau, York Middle School]