Nora’s English Report Card – Year 1

June 21, 2013 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Photos

English Report CardToday was Nora’s last day of school for the year; her first scholastic year is in the books. This school year has flown by. Nora has received three report cards (different columns in the same booklet) throughout the year, and it has been interesting to chart her progress. I’m convinced that the teachers intentionally give low marks early on so that they can show improvement throughout the year, but that’s understandable. In each “subject”, the children receive a grade of either one, two or three X’s, with XXX being the best grade. From the very first time we saw the report card, we were curious as to why she only received XX in English, since she’s very clearly bilingual.

Colors and Schools

May 10, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos

Colors and Schools (thumbnail)Nora’s language ability has veered mildly towards Spanish lately. For a while now she would only converse with me in English, but now she will sometimes switch to Spanish if she doesn’t know how to say the phrase in English, or if she just forgets. I dutifully respond, “You mean, ‘blah blah blah’?” translating what she just said into English, and she repeats it and goes acquiring new English words like this.

Diego Did It

March 08, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos

Diego Did It (thumbnail)As we quickly approach Nora’s third birthday later this month, her verbal skills continue to advance. She’s capable of recounting incidents from daycare, and often her stories check out, even if her telling of the story isn’t always coherent. The other day she insisted on telling me about how her jacket got wet. It seems that she was innocently (she’s such an angel!) drinking water from a cup, when a reckless lad by the name of Diego came careening into her causing her to spill her water. She was being rather cute about her explanation of what happened, so I decided to film her as if I were cross-examining a witness in the trial to determine Diego’s innocence or guilt.

Union Rep

January 26, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos

Union Rep (thumbnail)Nora was being particularly cute recently during her nightly routine of barging into my office to interrupt my work and inform me of the state of dinner as it is progressing in the kitchen. So I grabbed the video camera and shot her. The result is pretty representative of her English abilities. The phrasing is a little off, e.g. “You no can work” instead of “You cannot work”, but she has the general structure down. Sometimes it takes her a moment to figure out where her sentence is going. In general, I’d say her English skill is about 80% that of her Spanish.

A Messy Joke

September 10, 2011 By: erik Category: Funny, Soccer, Spanish, Weird

Lionel MessiLike most of my best wordplay, it had escaped my mouth before I realized the cleverness of it. I was talking with my daughter this morning, and I said, “You’re so messy! You’re like [Argentine soccer player, Barcelona phenom, and possibly the best living soccer player] Leo Messi!” I stopped for a minute, realized the significance of what I’d said, and went into the next room with a “Look how clever I am!” look on my face to tell my wife, but she stopped me and said that she’d heard what I’d said and already – probably before I did – noticed the humor/coincidence of it. Did any of my bilingual readers pick up on it?

Conquering the English

April 04, 2011 By: erik Category: News, Offspring

Reflected PlaygroundNora’s English has been improving by leaps and bounds lately, which is due to many factors, but I think the fact that her American grandparents visited for a week and that her Spanish grandparents haven’t visited for a while made a big difference, by enabling/forcing us to use English primarily at home. Little by little, I have been requiring more of her when she asks for things. When she wants her hands cleaned, she used to get away with just saying “sucio“, but since then we’ve stepped through “sucia mano“, “dirty”, “dirty hand”, and now up to “My hand is dirty.” We’ve climbed a similar ladder for cookie requests, from “más” through “more”, “más cookie”, “more cookie”, “cookie please”, “more cookie please”, “May I have more cookie?”, “May I have more cookie, please?”, to finally, “Daddy, may I have more cookie, please?”

Spanglish Shenanigans

February 25, 2011 By: erik Category: Offspring, Spanish, Videos

Grinning in PigtailsAs I have mentioned before, Nora has a very strong preference for speaking Spanish over English. It can be rather frustrating for me, since I’m doing everything in my power to motivate her to use English, and she just refuses. My general technique for reinforcing English use goes like this:

  1. Nora asks for something in Spanish.
  2. I say “What?” or just pretend to not hear.
  3. She repeats the request in Spanish.
  4. I repeat the request for her in English.
  5. She repeats the request in English.
  6. I immediately act on giving her whatever she asked for.

In the last month, her spoken Spanish has really taken off, and I think her English understanding has improved greatly as well. I can only think of three words that she tends to use in English before Spanish: cookie, shoe, and down, as in “get me down from this chair”.