A walk to the stables

A walk to the stables
Tamerin at the horses: we walked there on Thursday and talked rugby nearly all the way!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Phuket, The Jonas Brothers, Spelling and Speaking

I see I have not blogged in a long time!  In the meantime we had other themes like building, because they were building next door and it provided us with “something to talk about.”

But the best recent themes, by far, has been talking about… PHUKET!  The family are leaving for Phuket soon, and Tammy and I have had a great time preparing for this event:

We looked at different activities and tours that are offered there and concentrated on snorkelling and elephant treks.  I only provided very skimpy information, but Tammy practised a wealth of new vocabulary, spelling and grammar. 

This is how we have been going about it for the past eight weeks:

On Fridays, Tammy writes a spelling and vocabulary test.    Over the weekend she inserts a table in Word , on a page set on landscape.  The table has a column to enter new words in, and others to “practise” the words in and one column each for synonyms and  antonyms.  Any corrections from Friday’s  test are transferred to this new list. 

I prefer that Tamerin practises her spelling on the computer, to prevent her practising mistakes!  She can use the spell check, but Friday tests are definitely hand written!  She finds synonyms and antonyms from the thesaurus or the dictionary.  

Starting on Mondays,  she adds new words to her list as we discuss a new theme e.g. what to expect when going on a speed boat cruise to Phi Phi island.  (New vocabulary included words such as discover, explore, guides, legends, tropical, coral reefs, spectacular, scenery, price per person  etc.)

On Tuesdays all these words are used in a grammar exercise e.g. “Rewrite in reported speech.” (Not that she rewrites the sentences, we just drill them orally – over and over.)   Example:  My brother asked, “Dad, can we go on a speed boat trip while we are in Phuket?”  Reported speech:  Her brother asked whether they could go on a speed boat trip while they were in Phuket.

Then I try to make the exercise practical by suggesting possible conversations  e.g. “Dad, I wondered whether we could go on a speed boat trip….”   This drilling has helped her to form sentences and questions:  to be able to speak remains our number one priority. 

On Wednesdays, I will have the same or similar sentences, but this time as a “Fill in the missing word”.  Next to the blank spaces, I provide the synonyms with which she is familiar.  Before giving her this exercise for homework, we again go through all of the sentences orally, and Tammy often has to repeat the sentence on her own, i.e. without reading it.    As on the two previous days, she again practises her spelling, by retyping each word twice.  New words, acquired later in the week, have to be practised more. 

On Thursdays, we do similar drills as well as dictation on computer.  Dictation is  a typing exercise, but it also requires punctuation (still a big problem) and of course spelling! 

On Fridays she writes her spelling test  and fills in vocabulary again – but this time without a list to choose from! Her average score has gone up from around 40% to 78+%.  Once she scored 95%!

Our new “reader” is “Burning up”  by the Jonas Brothers.  We read it together and new vocabulary is added to the list.  Today’s section dealt with Joe’s working out.  Questions were “Why does he work out before a show?” “What exercises does he do?”  “Who is his trainer?” “What exercises do you do in water aerobics?”  “Which exercises do you like best?” Etc. etc.    I also get her to ask the questions to an imaginary friend e.g. “Did you know Joe Jonas can do the splits?  I wish I was as supple …”

Whatever we do, is connected to real life situations and possible conversations.  I now realize that creative speech can only happen, if you have the “tools’ (language patterns and vocabulary) with which to express yourself.  For most children, this happens spontaneously, but for a child with a serious language (speech and comprehension) impediment, it takes a far more dedicated and focussed effort to acquire these tools.

So far, I am very excited about our results of our newest concentrated efforts to improve Tammy’s language in totality.

Math concentrated on converting Thailand Baht to Rand.  She has to round prices and then divide them by 4 – mentally!  It has taken considerable effort, but we are getting there: B 14 = R3.50, B140 = R35,  B1400 = R350, B14000 = R3500 …. !  Calculation speed and insight are picking up fast! 

  • Other math included time sums: What is 21: 30 in ordinary speech?  (Half past nine p.m.) 
  • Adding hours  to departure times to work out arrival times.
  • Deducting hours to convert Phuket time to S.A. time.  Can you phone your ouma if it is 7:00 in Phuket? 

Please God, let everything work out well for the family, and let Tammy feel free to participate in conversations!