The Wild Learner

Explore, adventure, adapt, discover.

Mid-Winter Doldrums

The holiday period has passed, although with little of the usual fanfare. The lack of in-person socialization opportunities due to the pandemic is weighing on all of us. In terms of education, I find that the biggest impact for our learner is on second language acquisition. Grammar exercises and videos fail to provide the opportunity for spontaneous oral language production, and writing exercises feel particularly forced. In the first language, opportunities for writing to family and friends abound, and regular use of the language in the home supports an expanded knowledge base. But advances in first language skills make it even harder for a learner to persist in their more challenging, less familiar, language. If you are already reading chapter books in your first language, it’s difficult to go back down to graded readers in your second language.

We’ve tried video socializing, and will keep trying, but it’s tough. Our learner has played virtually with her grandparents for most of her life, but other kids may or may not have had the same experience. Coordinating amongst families with differing schedules, and communicating across varied platforms, complicates things even more. There are no easy fixes at the moment, but we are adding French language web-based group activities as we can, as well as returning to one-on-one tutoring sessions and actively scheduling one on one peer video time.

Like a transatlantic crossing, there are those times when the winds die down. Sometimes all you can do is wait it out, as the winds swirl and the seas abate. Breathe in, breathe out, make repairs, prepare for the changes to come. Perhaps that is where we are right now in this strange time. We’re making an effort to read out loud together in French, hoping that will help us when in future we can return to more normal relations.

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