Poland and Polish Discussion Group and Forum

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Poland and Polish Discussion Group and Forum
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Teaching your kids English

This is essentially an update on a topic I raised a few months ago.
Faced with my bilingual English-Polish children (12 and 11) receiving no English language education, I decided the time had come for me to take action - but I didn't know what.
Thrown into the equation was a third class member - a Polish-American boy.

Well, it's sort of going OK so far. Essentially, I took the view that they needed help in certain areas:

(i) writing practice, to avoid common spelling and style problems: link words and expressions, for example, and varying the length of sentences; and
(ii) vocabulary, to avoid looking stupid when among home-country English speakers. I realised they didn't know words like frogspawn, for example. To cover this fault area I tried to analyse what sort of vocabulary children their age typically know, and from what sources: first hand, other children, adults, education.

I came to the awful conclusion I had to teach them a bit of every subject they would get at school, plus the general knowledge they would pick up in a multi-cultural environment. Potentially, a humungous amount. So far I've more or less held it together by regularly changing the type of exercise and area of knowledge, but it's been tough for me.

I mean, the current area of knowledge is religion. I somehow have to cover that from a linguistic-general knowledge point of view. The upshot is that I am skimming over the surface so that they learn, for example, that the Muslim religion is called Islam, the place of worship is called a mosque, they pray 5 times a day, who Muhammed was, what Mecca is, and the places in the world where they are concentrated. (Sounds a lot, but you can do it in 10 mins and it's something you don't get taught in Polish schools!) I don't want my kids to say "Muslim church" or think that "Mecca" is simply a bingo hall.

We've skimmed through human and physical geography in a similar cavalier way. Words like "plateau", "plain" and "glaciation" were unknowns, let alone "suburbs" and "urban migration". I threw in things like "confluence" but missed out "mud flats". Deciding that less is more, I chose concepts on the basis of what I thought I could best teach and they could best remember and possibly find useful. My son still finds it funny to refer to the local swimming pool as a "local amenity"! I missed out loads without any real justification but there are limits.

I could go on ...
One website I raid is called "primary resources", but you can search using key words such as "worksheets" + history, English, mathematic(s) etc.

Re: Teaching your kids English

Did you know you can download the UK curriculum free of charge?
Also as you are a teacher (I think) write to the educational publishers for a catalogue inside is a form for free sample books for each level, (these are books you are thinking of using in your school)
I found them to very generous
History books, maths,biology. allsorts.

Re: Teaching your kids English

No,I'm not going to set up a school. Not enough time in my life for that. I'm just trying to plug as many gaps in my kids education as I can. It's a bit like keeping the Titanic afloat, but I don't want to repeat the experience of other English parents whose children have glaring problems on occasion.

To give you a very straightforward example: an English friend's 18 year-old son (a fluent English-speaker brought up in Poland) asked my 12 year-old son what "grade" he was in. Completely baffled. The question was repeated in vain. The communication failure was total because my son only recognised the words "year" or (somewhat polonistically)"class" as translations for "klasa". "Grade" he didn't know because that's American - he knew it in terms of "A-grade". They then switched to Polish.