Monday, June 22, 2015

Toddler German Class in America

Toddler M is taking German class once a week, as of last Friday. The Frau is not sure if it will be effective or not (is three hours once a week enough to learn a language?), but she had to at least try one session for the sake of her daughter, since she knows first-hand how painful it is to try to learn a language when you’re old.

Toddler M’s summer German class is held in a park near a beautiful brick building with a clock tower. If the setting didn’t come complete with parking spaces the size of some small European countries, it could almost pass as Swiss.

Anyway, The Frau sat in on the first 20 minutes of the class because Toddler M didn’t want her to leave. While the teacher spoke German most of the time, she would still switch to English to discipline or tell the children to be quiet when someone else was speaking.

The Frau found all of this English unnecessary, but maybe this is because she is used to the real-deal-throw-your-daughter-into-a-Swiss-German-world-at-six-months-old-and wish-her-the-best-while-you-go-to-work method. And she has to say, this method works.

Because after class, the teacher reported that Toddler M knew a lot of German already and had a lot of potential. It was good to hear that her first three years in Switzerland had some impact and also that the YouTube videos in German that The Frau makes her watch are most likely helping too.

But in general, The Frau still wonders: How does an average American child learn a foreign language? The answer: They don’t.

American culture still seems to believe that learning a second language is either for poor immigrants in an ESL program or a luxurious pastime for rich kids. Language learning is not a serious undertaking supported by American tax dollars nor are there many programs for complete immersion even if you are willing to spend half your salary on them. It’s too bad because The Frau believes a second language for all Americans could be the key to a better understanding of the world for our citizens.

Not to mention, language learning is fun, at least if you ask Toddler M. After the class she said in a very happy English, “Mommy, I really love German!”

So needless to say, it was all worth it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Naked toddlers and dogs in parks, oh my!

This episode of One Big Yodel is called How Not to Be American in America. 

The main character? You guessed it. The Frau.

Now. The Frau has been getting into trouble in America lately. It’s her first summer here in almost a decade so she’s having certain issues.

The first has to do with dogs.

In Europe, dogs go everywhere. In Switzerland, they don’t just ride trains—they have train passes. They even go to restaurants.

Not in America. The Frau knows this. So when Toddler M wanted to take her grandmother’s five-pound poodle to the neighborhood library, The Frau said no. But when Toddler M suggested the park instead, The Frau said yes.

About 15 minutes into the park visit, as Toddler M was proudly showing all the kids the toy poodle, a loud voice yelled from the street: “You cannot have dogs in the park! Some kids are scared of them. You’ll get a ticket from the police!”

One mother told The Frau not to listen to this yelling woman, that the toy poodle was more like a doll than a dog, but The Frau went over to check the sign near the park, and sure enough it said “no dogs.”

Why dogs cannot go to a park makes no sense to The Frau, but The Frau is Swiss in that she follows the rules, so she put the dog into the wagon, much to Toddler M and the other kids’ protests.

Two weeks later, The Frau found out that dogs were also not allowed…in the La Grange Pet Parade. This was all due to some bout of dog flu that had been going around a couple months prior. Again, it seemed ridiculously American to The Frau to have a pet parade without dogs, but so be it.

Then The Frau took Toddler M to the Arboretum.

At the Arboretum in Lisle, IL, there’s a little water pond that kids can play in. While in the pond, Toddler M ripped off her diaper so The Frau retrieved it and threw it away. Toddler M was still wearing a long shirt, so The Frau thought nothing of it. About ten minutes later, The Frau was told “Please put something on your child!“ by an offended old lady. And to think all those kids in Baden, Switzerland ran naked in the public fountains. Nakedness is not allowed in America—even for three year olds. Lesson learned, mitenand.


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