How in the world do you teach preschoolers a second language without full immersion?? Alexa is resistant to the idea that there are multiple ways to say the same thing. A bed is a bed is a bed in her world. I mean, it was up until a few weeks ago when we decided to start this. I know NOW is the best time to get her acquainted with the Vietnamese language, but it’s HARD. Especially when Peter is gone most of her waking hours.
I’m really enjoying Rosetta Stone for myself, but it’s too advanced for Alexa. She needs simple and easy to use. I downloaded an app on my phone that just says the names of what’s pictured in Viet. She thinks it’s a game. I think it’s a leeeeeeeetle too simplistic. That said, it is getting her familiar with the sounds and she likes it. That’s a HUGE plus!
So what do I do? I’m planning on labling the whole house with the Viet words for our everyday items. *note to self – get index cards*. What else? All the advice articles just say to keep at it, have patience, yadda yadda. Of course those ideas are key, but how do you even explain that Grandma and Ba Noi are the same thing?
I want Peter to ask his parents for some insight and some actual help. I’ve told him to ask them to speak Viet around the girls. Always when speaking to each other, and to use a mix of the words when speaking to the girls so they get used to the sounds and tones. Vietnamese is a hard language for English speakers to pronounce because some of the tones used don’t exist in both languages. Vice Versa is true as well. If I do learn to be even close to “conversational” I’ll still have a heavy Western accent. The same as Peter’s family has a heavy Viet accent when speaking English. It’s normal and very much OKAY. It’s still hard to hear and speak the difference.
Back to the In-Laws. Peter’s father helped run Viet lessons with their church. He should have some workbooks and possibly computer programs to use. If nothing else he’ll have advice. There are a few reasons why I won’t send the girls to church program, but at least we can benefit from the collective knowledge of people who have taught there.
This article on teaching Vietnamese to kids says to do the following:
- Label items around the house – I already addressed that we’ll do that.
- Read bilingual books – we have a few of these and need to get better at reading them. I also need to check out some of the traditional English books that have been translated into Viet.
- Play Vietnamese music so the kids can sing along – I have one kid song CD and the Audio CDs that came with my Rosetta Stone. I should start playing them in constant rotation in the car. For me and for the kids.
- Use online and computer lesson games – I have Rosetta Stone, but like I said before I think it’s too advanced right now, but will be perfect in a year or two when Alexa can sit still and really do it. I *should* just do my lessons in front of her on the TV computer.
- Expose your kids to cultural opportunities - This one is easy since Peter’s family lives so close. There are many different holidays and family traditions that the girls will be a part of. I do wish they were involved with the more secular groups, but we can always reach out to them on our own as well.
Here are two YouTube channels I am using for myself.
I wish I could find some good ones for kids. They need to make a Dora-type cartoon for Viet. Kai-Lan is great for Chinese kids, but it’s not exactly the same thing ;D Though we do love Hoho *teehee*