Far til en skolepige



Anna’s first day at school
Originally uploaded by PhylB

I dag var det første skoledag i East Renfrewshire Kommune, og da Anna blev født i december 2007, skulle hun begynde i P1 (1. klasse).

Hun har glædet sig meget, og det var en meget stolt og glad pige, der pilede ind i skolegården. Vi måtte ikke komme med ind og måtte vinke farvel til hende fra lågen.

I dag mødte hun kl. 9.30, men fra i morgen skal hun i skole hver dag fra 9 til 15, ligesom Léon, der nu er begyndt i 3. klasse.

Anna skal nu gå i “primary school” i de næste syv år, og så i gymnasiet (“high school”) i seks år, så hun bliver efter planen student, når hun er 17½.

Aldersmæssigt er P1-eleverne ca. to år yngre end danske 1. klasses-elever, så naturligvis er P1 ikke en kopi af en dansk førsteklasse, men inddrager elementer af en dansk børnehavneklasse (0. klasse). Eleverne har lært alfabetet og tallene i børnehaven (“preschool”), så de skal nu lære at læse, skrive og regne ordentligt, men naturligvis skal de også tegne og spille skuespil og den slags.

The parents have to help till the kids turn 25



Edinburgh High Court
Originally uploaded by kaysgeog

I’ve often wondered why tuition fees and bursaries in England are determined by parental income when the students in question are adults and therefore aren’t the parents’ responsibility any more.

However, today I happened to read this article which explains that parents are expected to help their children with their education costs until they turn 25:

What most parents (whether separated, divorced or still together) are probably not aware of however, is that if their child embarks upon higher education, then as the child’s parents, they have a legal obligation to continue to support that child financially from age 18 until the child turns 25. […] This is known as aliment.

If the parents refuse to do so, the kid can take them to court:

What this means in practice, is that a student child who perhaps feels that they are not receiving as much, if any, financial support from their parents as they require, has the option to instruct a solicitor of their own to take either or both parents to court and to seek a formal award of aliment in their favour.

If this is also the case in England, at least I now understand how they can take the parental income into consideration.

As far as I can see, children of many divorced couples can milk the system, however. University fees and bursaries are decided solely by the income of the custodial parent (normally the mother) in the case of divorced couples, but the child can take both parents to court to refusing to help financially. So in theory, if the main custodial is poor and the other parent is rich, the student can get reduced fees and a big bursary, and in addition they can sue their rich parent for extra money.

It’s not an ideal system. I’d prefer everybody to be treated as full adults from their 18th birthday, and looking at parental income for adult children should be abolished.

Så blev den mindste to år gammel



Bops
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Amaia fyldte to år i dag.

Vi fejrede hende på sædvanlig manér med fælles morgenmad for os alle syv, fødselsdagslagkage om eftermiddagen, og aftensmad bestående af suppe, pizza og is.

Det er altså lidt underligt, når ens yngste fylder år. Mine to døtre er nu to og fire, og selvom jeg husker deres fødsler, som var det i går, så er de jo altså ikke små spædbørn længere, og om blot elve år er de begge teenagere!

Men sådan er det vel. Når man selv er barn, snegler tiden sig afsted, og blot de fireogtyve dage op til jul virker som en evighed. Når man så er voksen, føles det som om, ens børn har fødselsdag en gang om måneden, og de bliver store meget hurtigere, end man kan følge med.

Men stort tillykke til min store lille Amaia!

Amaias sprog



Homemade bread and butter
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Amaia har nu i nogle måneder haft et ret udtryksfuldt sprog. Det er tydeligt baseret på engelsk (i meget højere grad end Annas), selvom hun naturligvis forstår dansk aldeles fremragende).

Her er hendes mest almindelige ord:

ai øje, øre eye
airin ørering eye + ring
?aisi vis mig det (typisk et billede) I see
?apu æble, appelsin, tomat, mandarin apple, appelsin
apu?d?ys drikkevare (vand, saftevand, mælk, kaffe) apple juice
a?st?k jeg sidder fast I stuck
au? jeg vil ud out
baibai farvel bye-bye
ba? bad bath
?beibi barn, dukke (op til ca. 11 år) baby
b? bus bus
?dadi far, mand daddy
?dadi dadi farfar (se også grofa) Großvater
dau ned, op (jvf. ?p) down
drai bil drive
??rofa farfar Großvater
hai hånd hand
he hår hair
(ba)?laða prinsesse (måske også ‘smuk’) ?
?meme havfrue mermaid
?m?mi mor, kvinde mummy
?m?mi ?dadi farmor (oversættelseslån)
nai(n) min, mig my, mine
nais flot (især i ?naisdrai “flot bil”) nice
nai? nai? godnat night, night
?nam?nam giv mig den (især, men ikke udelukkende, mad) nammenam
?mo a ?nam?nam giv mig mere more + nammenam
?napu (jeg har fyldt min) ble nappy + poo
o? o? i stykker oh-oh
on tage tøj på (især trøje, T-shirt etc., da bukser etc. er trausa) on
?p?mpa morfar, mormor Pumpa
si?u vi ses i morgen see you
?sosis pølse, frikadelle sausage
tai seng, dyne, pude tired?
?titi fjernsyn TV
?titiz slik sweeties
trausa bukser, nederdel, strømpebukser trousers
t?i smør, ost cheese
?p op, ned (jvf. dau) up, op
?wawa blomst flower
we?a?u hvor er… where are you

Typiske sætninger er fx Beibi we?a?u? “Hvor er min dukke?” og Nai tai! “Læg dig i min seng!”

The Danish-Scottish Christmas party

I joined the Danish-Scottish Society shortly after moving to Scotland, but I was not a very active member due to the fact that almost all events took place in Edinburgh (which seems to have a much bigger Danish community than Glasgow). For a couple of years, some people tried to arrange events in Glasgow, but they didn’t typically attract more than ten participants, so eventually I let my membership lapse.

However, these days I’m living with three bilingual children who really could use an opportunity to hear other people speak Danish and learn more about Danish culture, so we recently joined again as a family.

The first event we went to was their Christmas party (in Edinburgh). It was really good fun for the kids. There were at least a hundred people there, including lots of kids, and they were selling glögg, æbleskiver and pebernødder. Towards the end, we all danced around the Christmas tree, singing Danish and English Christmas songs, and afterwards somebody read the kids a Christmas story, and then Santa arrived, bringing presents for all the children.

We then had to leave, but on our way out, each kid got a large bag of sweet, so they were well chuffed!

It’s just a shame it takes an hour and a half to get to Edinburgh – the kids really thought it was a long trip, If only there were enough people in the Glasgow area to arrange similar events for Danish-Scottish families here…

Language learning in Scottish schools

Marcel started Spanish this year (S3, i.e., the third out of the six high-school years), and he asked me to give him a few extra lessons, given that I speak Spanish and he isn’t too impressed with what he’s learnt at school so far.

His class don’t seem to be using a course book – they’re just using photocopies and the like – so I couldn’t just ask him what he’d learnt already. (As a parent, it would really be much easier if kids were given one book in every subject! Not only is it much harder to help them with homework if you don’t know what they’ve learnt, but it also makes it impossible for them to catch up if they’re off sick, and revision becomes dependent on good note taking in a way it didn’t use to be.)

I therefore decided to ask him some really easy questions, and I started by asking him to tell me the present indicative of the verb ser “to be”. I had expected him to quickly say “soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son”, after which I would have proceeded to some harder verbs or tenses.

However, he really didn’t know the answer. It wasn’t a problem with the terminology – I tried to ask him how he’d say “I am”, etc., but he didn’t know the answer. He claimed the teacher had shown them the forms once, but that he hadn’t had the time to copy them into his jotter.

I asked him what they were doing instead, and he said they were just learning words.

If it’s true, it’s absolutely ludicrous! Language learning is primarily about learning structure – the words are easy to add on later.

However, this episode suddenly made me understand an article I read six months ago and that I had dismissed at the time. It was an article in the Guardian about learning Mandarin in two days (hat-tip: Sabine Citron), and I thought it was just telling me things I knew already. The advice in that article is absolutely right for language teaching in Scottish schools, though: ‘The narrow set of nouns and verbs is an integral part of Noble’s technique. “One of the worst things you can do with language teaching is teach someone a massive number of words. It’s back-to-front – teach them to speak and then add to their knowledge. You have to become very fluent in a very small amount of the language.” Many students, he says, are led astray by learning numbers, colours or days of the week before they’ve learned any kind of framework with which to use them. “The nouns are almost irrelevant. That’s stuff you can learn yourself.”’

I don’t agree with everything in the article (amongst other things, I don’t think grammatical terminology is a hindrance so long as it’s used to convey structure rather than a goal in its own right), but the bit I quoted here I could almost have said myself.

If language teaching in Scotland has become a case of learning words but no grammar, they really need to go back to square one and start all over again. Their current approach just does not work.