A colleague of ours found this set of building blocks to help children learn English. One of the things that is so amazing about teaching English as a foreign language is that it forces you to rethink components of English you take for granted and experience the language in a completely new way. With that in mind, try to remember back…far back…to yourself at a more innocent time.
I’d call that a good start. Classical. Conservative. Fruit is a frequently the first lexical group you present to children. They are objects the children have daily experience with, and everybody likes to eat.
Sports are good, too.
Two different presentations of “football” are going to be confusing for the tot, but a little bit of cognitive dissonance can be a good thing. In this rapidly globalizing world, it is important for children to realize as early as possible that all countries do things in their own special ways…and the United States of America does them correctly. As for the softball, you have to admit it makes more sense this way. Nobody is afraid of tennis balls. Have you ever been beaned with a softball? Ouch!
Another good vocabulary lesson is animal words. You can even get in a bit of cultural exchange when you explain that animals in different countries make different sounds. For instance, in English, dogs say “bow-wow”. In Chinese, they say “wang-wang”. Interestingly, cats “meow” in both languages and, as such, can talk to each other. Yet another reason why they can’t be trusted.
Now, I don’t mind the fact that the peacock is a turkey, and the rooster/hen confusion happens to plenty of people. King of Beasts is an honorific, a darning needle is a beautiful description of a dragonfly, and a mouse looking for a hand-out for his family could just as easily be considered in the plural. From what I’ve read “bear-cat” is the literal translation of panda in Chinese, so, while I think it is absurd that the kids aren’t taught the English word in an English block set, I can understand. BUT, crustacea?!? For a ladybug?!?
The technical term for an overhead projector is an epidiascope, but have you ever heard anybody call it that? And I know you are used to calling it a satellite, but you’d be wise to learn the new phrase. 1.3 billion people are about to change your language.
An armet is a two-piece helmet from 15th century with a moveable facemask. A navvy is apparently a steam-shovel. Coler sounds like a bastardization of koala, but maybe it is Australian English. Gee, I don’t know.
From this point, it just gets scary.
I seriously doubt a “Manchurian Candidate” connection in the Hindenburg, Challenger and Columbia disasters. Still, with English lessons like these from childhood, we really wouldn’t know…
The title of this post is from one of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes strips.
For delightful misuse of Chinese, try Hanzi Smatter.