French Acquisition: Week 1

My journey officially starts on April 24.

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE:
*I had a small amount of prior knowledge of this language before this date. Very small.
*I had learnt to sing and play Frere Jacques on the guitar with my young children, and we do this regularly.
*We also play a french game in our home about a postman and the days of the week, reminiscent of Duck Duck Goose.
*I count to 10 with my children in French regularly.
*I studied Spanish for 1.5 school years at highschool in New Zealand, so I have a small amount of knowledge about how European Romantic languages differ from English.

CURRENT TOOLS OF ACQUISITION:
*I am studying French with a few different online resources. This is one of them http://www.fluentu.com/ i find it very useful, although the audio is not very good.
*My current au pair is french, so I ask her a lot about things that I am struggling to grasp.
*I am teaching my children french through stories and song with the help of our au pair. I believe it was Aristotle that said teaching is the highest form of learning!
*I especially love this youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ssebastienn lots of their clips have french subtitles so I can read and sing with my girls at the same time.
*We have a few french picture books that our French girl bought for us when she arrived.
*I try to learn a new french song as often as I can.
*I have changed my facebook language settings to French.
*I will label everything in my house with the french word (and masculine/feminine article) as soon as I get the chance to with Frenchy.
*I am writing in French to two friends that I have in France, conversing with 2 local friends that speak French, and am hoping to find a new French penpal.
*The next time I go to the library I will find a French phrase book.
*I listen to modern french music as much as possible.
*I have been doing research on well-known internet polyglots, and their methods of language acquisition.
*As my French continues to improve, I will extend my reading and listening resources to extend just beyond my current level.
*I am taking this MOOC with FutureLearn that I highly recommend, to extend my knowledge on language acquisition.
*I have devised a Day Chart to do with the girls every morning, that allows us to chose options and stick them onto the chart regarding the day of the week, the temperature, the time we woke up, the weather, and how we feel.

OBSERVATIONS:
*The rhythm and timbre of the French language no longer sounds foreign to me.
* I can successfully follow the written lyrics or subtitles of French video clips. I do not understand everything that is written, but about half of the time I get the gist of what is being communicated.
*I can fake my way through about a quarter of French conversation that I am engaging in on Facebook, by simply copying sentence structure and repeating parts of what the other person is saying, drawing on my knowledge of Spanish and recognising similar vocabulary from Spanish and English. I need to use Google Translate often, but I am finding that simply engaging in conversation at any possible level is a very effective learning tool.
*I can sing the first half of the first verse of Une Chanson Douce. It is proving to be much harder to learn songs that have been designed for adults to sing, rather than songs that have been designed for children to sing.
*My 5 year old daughter is learning songs much faster than I am, without the additional research that I am doing into online French activities, conversation with Frenchy about grammar, and language acquisition theory.
*Doing the Day chart every morning is helping with all of our vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure, and is proving to be very beneficial for my children’s understanding of how to measure time in English.
*I regularly catch both of my children singing French games to themselves, and they play a game where they ask each other questions and answer with either “No” or “Oui” (in French).

GOALS FOR THIS WEEK:
*Stockpile my current French vocabulary and use this to write a song for guitar in French.
*Understand the picture books Frenchy brought that I have not yet studied (which is all of them!).
*Keep up to date with the FutureLearn MOOC. We have 2 weeks left.

French Acquisition: The Mother Tongue Hypothesis

Shin’ichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki Method for learning to play classical music, devised a method of teaching that borrowed it’s practices from the ways in which we acquire our mother-tongue.
He called it The Mother Tongue Method.
The blurb of his book Nurtured By Love reads: “…the Mother tongue Method (is) based on the simple observation that all children learn to speak their native language with ease through listening and repetition. He believed that since very young children could master the complexity of their native language, they could also master a musical instrument.”
In this book, Suzuki presents many interesting ideas about the way in which we acquire language as a child- to a level of fluency, yet through no formal tuition. He then applies this same method of language acquisition to the way in which he taught his young students to play classical string music.

Interestingly, the part of the brain that deals with language, is also the same part of the brain that deals with what I call the “mechanics” of music.
In an article from the Austin Community College, the author states that “The left hemisphere is apparently very important for musical abilities which share properties with speech, such as temporal order, duration, simultaneity, and rhythm“. This further propels my hypothesis that the same techniques that are used to learn music can also be applied to learning language, and vice versa.

I plan to use the practices outlined in this book to learn to speak French fluently in 4 months, along with various other techniques.
This is not an experiment to solely investigate the efficiency of the Mother Tongue method in second language acquisition, but a personal challenge to discover what combination of techniques works well for me.

Keep posted for updates on how I incorporate this theory into my challenge!