Amazing what you remember!
My father's family is Swedish. I remember listening to my grandmother and great aunt speaking Swedish as a child, and my grandmother tried teaching me a little Swedish. However, that was many years ago, and If you had asked me a week ago If I spoke Swedish I would have answered definitely not. Now that I'm getting started with Duolingo, so much is familiar. I'm remembering conversations I haven't thought of in ages. So, not only is Duolingo helping me learn another language, it's bringing back very warm childhood memories. Thanks, Duolingo!
I began Swedish, as well as this website, just over a week ago. But what surprises me is that I know roughly a third as much Swedish as I know Spanish. And I've been taking a Spanish class at my school since kindergarten.
The language system here in the U.S. is somewhat messed up.
Agreed. I teach middle school Spanish. Some of my 6th graders have had Spanish in Elementary school, but they've never conjugated a verb. After 5 years they know a few basic phrases, their colors, some animals......that's about it. Fortunately 3 of our elementary schools now have bilingual programs - kids get 100% of their math and science instruction in Spanish or French, and social studies and language arts in English. They started the program in Kindergarten and now they have it up through 2nd grade....if our district starts with the program. I've had the opportunity to observe some of those classes and LOVE them. I wish that approach were more widespread in the US.
I wish I had one of those new classes when i was in elementary school. My Spanish class was learning how to say colors, for 5 years. Well, it wasn't a bad class, I loved it. What 1st-5th grader wouldn't? Besides learning colors, we'd also make paper mâché piñatas, dressing up maracas, etc.. but hardly any Spanish!
I went through most of school learning everything in French, a language I only spoke at school. It's not that difficult because the difficulty of the course material increased along with language comprehension. Of course, I never used it since school, and I'm using Duolingo as a refresher for that.
In every (K-5) school where I've worked, the foreign language teacher just comes in once or twice a week and reads a book to them, plus teaches and practices a few vocab words. It's hardly intensive and there's no tracking or attempt to push them into conversational use. Of course the bilingual immersion schools are different.
I wonder if the weekly exposure helps extend that critical period of language acquisition though? So at the very least, the sounds are familiar when they're exposed again in middle school?
My school is the only middle school in the district where every student has to study a second language. We follow the high school Spanish 1 curriculum so it's a big leap from what they get in elementary school. We don't see a big difference between kids who have had Spanish in elementary school and those who haven't. Every year I have at least one kid tell me they have learned more in one month here than they did in 5 years of elementary school.
In our school, it is every day the teachers come, and teach everything about the language, but I have not doubt that I have learned more from Duolingo than I could have in that class in one month. In fact, I just held a conversation in swedish with another person the other day, and they knew what I said. A few grammar mistakes, but, awesome! And in school, I would not have been this far already. So, Duolingo wins.