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Author Topic: I am vindicated! (Homeschooling is legal in CA)
ClaudiaTherese
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*nods

I found the hardest part of education to be knowing what I did not know. University really brought this to the fore, but it was amazing to be challenged in such a way on topics and in areas about which I was unduly confident about my background and abilities.

There is something intoxicating about that moment when one's self-assessment has to shift. I had great teachers who pushed me to that point.

---

Edited to add: I had a really quite marvelous 5th grade teacher that taught us grammar by sentence diagramming. (Mrs. Wittenbraker, I love you! [Smile] ) She, too, advised us to recognize the passive voice by noting when the verb of a sentence was constructed by a form of "to be" plus a past participle.

[ August 22, 2008, 05:53 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Eaquae Legit
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I think the passive voice is completely legit, Jhai. Sometimes it's not the most effective choice, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's a stupid myth taught by people who don't understand the language.

Belle, I was taught it in my university Latin classes. I learned most of my formal grammar through my Latin classes, and a bit from private study and from a linguistics class. Latin was a very effective teacher because I really had to understand what was going on, not just recognise it.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Eaquae Legit, I was delighted by Latin for that very reason. Gerunds were like bon-bons. *smile

[note the passive voice there [Wink] ]

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scifibum
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Wait, where's the past participle?

Wouldn't it have to be "Gerunds were thought by me to be like bon-bons?"

The risk of Davidson's law is being assumed by me. [Wink]

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scholarette
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What drives me crazy is the whole science/ passive voice thing. I was taught initially that you can never say I/we in a scientific paper- which pretty much makes everything passive voice (well, in materials and methods). But at some point there was a shift in writing styles and now we are supposed to avoid passive and I/we is fine (we is preferable because rarely is science an individual effort). So, now whenever I write anything technical, no matter how I write I feel like I am doing it wrong.
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ClaudiaTherese
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"delighted"

http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/071.html - some mention
http://www.angelfire.com/wi3/englishcorner/grammar/Interactive/pv1.html - see the question written as "He _____ (delight) by the decision."

[ August 22, 2008, 06:11 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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scifibum
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Doh.
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ClaudiaTherese
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No problem. There is (IIRC) some controversy over whether to count "delighted" as a verb (past participle form with auxiliary form of "be") or adjective (with copula). I think there is an argument to be made either way.

I wouldn't have chosen it as an illustrative use of the passive voice for that very reason, but reading my post after it was submitted made me laugh. [Smile]

I'll look for a reference about the controversy for you.

---

Edit: Oh, I see. You were looking at the second sentence. No fear! You could have raised issue with the first as well. See An Introduction to the Grammar of English at the next to the last paragraph for more details.

---

Second edit: The title of the thread is a similar usage, I think.

[ August 22, 2008, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Sachiko
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I don't know. I never took grammar. What I learned, I learned from reading, since my English teachers covered it only lightly. I'm hoping to learn more grammar this next time around with my kids--we're starting Latin this year, and that should help.

Rabbit, I'm not meaning to troll--Hi, Jhai--but, to take my point to a ridiculous extreme: what do you think of putting all children into boarding schools at a young age, in order to ensure absolutely every child has an adequate academic education?

I'm not asking this rhetorically: do we have the right to be with our families? I guess CPS answers that with a No sometimes; in that the right of families to stay together is superceded by the right for safety for a child.

I was thinking about possible parallels--because I do care a lot about kids out there who may need help, and I do want all of them to do well.

So far as I know, the government (federal or state) doesn't mandate regular trips to the doctor for kids. Yes, parents can be prosecuted for not getting their children medical attention when needed, but if the children appear otherwise healthy, parents are not compelled to take them to the doctor.

They are encouraged to take them, especially for vaccinations, but are not compelled.

And that has to do with the well-being of children, doesn't it? I'd say the right to be alive and healthy is even more important than the right to literacy, and who would disagree with that? But we still don't force parents to either take their children to a doctor, or to allow a doctor to check on them periodically.

I'm not trolling. I'm using different analogies to try to get across not just that I disagree, but why and how. Forgive me, Jhai, if I am poor at it.

I still think my "moral education" idea has some merit. For instance, we don't prosecute parents for teaching their children dishonesty, even though lying and thievery hurts the whole community, limiting not only the options of the lying, stealing children, but also the options of the people around them.

So, yes, I also think it would be wonderful if everyone could read. But disagreeing with measures that would compel parents to comply with the government is not the same as not caring about other children.

The best approach I've heard so far involves, like vaccinations, an incentives program, offering literacy programs at libraries, book giveaways, etc.

I think the mandatory testing could work, IF it were limited just as Rabbit says.

However, I lack confidence that it would stay limited and benign, once enacted. To use a cliche, people with hammers tend to see nails. That could be ameliorated with "blind" test reading and audits, like Belle suggested.

The hypothetical situation I fear is one where a homeschooled child fails to meet reading benchmarks, the parent refuses state assistance or accepts it and the child doesn't progress, and CPS takes the kid away.

Do you see how this would affect homeschooling families differently than public-schooled kids?

Because I imagine that the same child, in a public school, with the same failure to progress, would not be taken away from their parents.

Or the parents wouldn't be fined, or whatever other measure the state would resort to, to ensure compliance.

Oh, here's another question, out of curiousity--would Amish children be subject to the same tests?

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Belle
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Sachiko, I'm sorry, but you're just being silly at this point. It's as if you have a whole roster of straw men and want to make sure they all get a chance to play. I'm rather tired of playing with them, myself.

Back to grammar, because it's awesome. [Smile]

quote:
No problem. There is (IIRC) some controversy over whether to count "delighted" as a verb (past participle form with auxiliary form of "be") or adjective (with copula). I think there is an argument to be made either way.

Personally I think delighted is a verbal that has made the transition to true adjective. It passes the adjective test ("The delighted man is very delighted.")

There is however, an excellent argument to be made either way, just as you say, CT.

Personally, my favorite part of my grammar and usage linguistics class was diagramming too, especially infinitival clauses. Of course, that's probably just because I loved saying the word "infinitival" And when people ask you what you're doing that night and you can answer "I'm busy, I have to diagram some infinitivals for homework" that just makes you cool, right there.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Rabbit, I'm not meaning to troll--Hi, Jhai--but, to take my point to a ridiculous extreme: what do you think of putting all children into boarding schools at a young age, in order to ensure absolutely every child has an adequate academic education?

I'm not asking this rhetorically: do we have the right to be with our families? I guess CPS answers that with a No sometimes; in that the right of families to stay together is superceded by the right for safety for a child.

Taking my point to such a ridiculous extreme is missing my point entirely. My point is that we must find a balance point between protecting the rights of the parent and the rights of the child. We can honestly disagree about where the appropriate balance point is, but ridiculous extremes are almost by definition out of balance.

I have continuously argued that parents should have the right to make certain educational choices for their children, including the choice to home school under the condition that they are not violating the child's right to be taught basic skills. It is a question of balance. Both the parent and the child have rights. In protecting the child's educational rights, society should seek means which provide adequate protection for the child without placing undue restrictions of the rights of the parent.

It is a different thing to claim that we do not have the right to be with our families and to say we do not have the unconditional right to be with our families. As I've said before, in a community there are no unconditional individual rights. All our rights exist are limited by the rights of others. Consider the right to liberty which many have declared is an inalienable right and yet we all agree that when an individual commits certain crimes, society can justly deprive them of that liberty and throw them in jail.

What I have been saying all along is that not that parents don't have rights, it is that there are limits too those rights just like there are limits to every right.

To use an old aphorism, "Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins". Your extreme case is akin to saying that we should duct tape everyones arms to their sides to make sure they don't hit any ones nose.

[ August 25, 2008, 06:47 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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The Rabbit
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I loved diagramming sentences too but I'm not sure how valuable it was as a tool for teaching people to write good sentences.

I think sometimes in teaching grammar, people loose sight of the goal. People don't need to know grammar -- they need to be able to communicate effectively using written and spoken language.

When I'm reading and come across a long and awkward sentence, I've never resorted to diagramming it to figure out what it meant. Maybe learning to diagram sentences helped me to be able to parse the sentences but its certainly never at a conscious level.

Belle, Do you know of any research out there that would show whether or not diagramming sentences actually helps improving writing skills?

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Belle
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You know, Rabbit, I really don't.

I would be happy to look for some research, though. It's an interesting question.

And I completely agree - it's more about being able to communicate effectively. My focus right now (aside from what I need to do to graduate!) is on reading, I'm really interested in middle-school reading levels because I think I want to be a middle school reading coach eventually. I've been studying techniques to improve comprehension and such, and it's fascinating reading.

But, I'll take a look into the diagramming question, because it's a good one.

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Scott R
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Does anyone remember the old Peanuts strip, where Sally is trying to diagram a sentence by adding doodles of flowers and spangly things to it?
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dkw
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I suspect that, like most learning techniques, diagramming works great for some people, okay for others, and not at all for some. It should, IMO, be something that teachers are all taught, so that they can use it with the kids that it works for. It's not something that every student needs to know, but it is a tool that teachers should have available as one option to help students understand grammar.
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rivka
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^ Well said.
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Primal Curve
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
I suspect that, like most learning techniques, diagramming works great for some people, okay for others, and not at all for some. It should, IMO, be something that teachers are all taught, so that they can use it with the kids that it works for. It's not something that every student needs to know, but it is a tool that teachers should have available as one option to help students understand grammar.

My mom uses colored pencils in her classroom. She says it's a lot more effective than the diagram. There are some funny looks from first year students, though. "Why would I need colored pencils in my English class?
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Belle
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I've used colored pencils before - it can be effective.

I think dkw has brought up a good point. Yes, it's something a teacher should know in order that the teacher has a better understanding of the structure of sentences and how various parts of the sentence work together. It isn't necessarily something that students should have to demonstrate competency in in order to graduate.

However, I do think a good visual representation of how sentences are structured does help many students see the relationships.

Diagramming is on its way out, however, and many school systems don't require it to be taught anymore.

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DDDaysh
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Diagramming is on it's WAY out? Wow, I thought it was completely gone. My sixth grade teacher (who was ancient, even then) was the only one who ever even mentioned the skill. I think she showed us how once, but it was towards the end of the school year and was never tested. When I was working with middle school students, we never taught them how to diagram. It isn't something ever brought up by my aunt (sixth grade language arts teacher) Aside from knowing that you draw a sorta quadrant looking thingamajiggy, I haven't the faintest idea how to diagram a sentence! I don't think I ever noticed the lack in any of my college classes, graduate coursework, or work related communications. What I really would have liked to get more instruction on was semicolons. I never have completely figured those out!

Students in our district do still learn the parts of speech. This is mostly so that they can learn the difference between nouns and verbs, and the difference between adjectives and adverbs. Knowing the names for the parts of speech is not very important, but it is important to teach them when different words should be used. A surprisingly large amount of time is spent coaching students to rid themselves of the double negative. I'm not sure if this is something that is true nation wide, but it is a large problem in our rural Texas community.

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ketchupqueen
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Diagramming was never once mentioned in my classes. I learned about it on my own (yes, I read grammar books in the library in my free time...)
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Jhai
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The only reference to diagramming I heard during my entire school career was in the Little House on the Prarie books in the library. It sounded cool in the books...
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TomDavidson
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quote:
What I really would have liked to get more instruction on was semicolons; I never have completely figured those out!
Fixed that for you.
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ambyr
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I learned diagramming at my private middle school twelve years ago; when my public high school Spanish teacher tried to use it to explain the differences between Spanish and English grammar, I was the only person in my class to have heard of it.

That was also when it was most useful--it let me see when I using English structures in my Spanish sentences, and how to shift them into more appropriate arrangements. I thought it was fun in middle school, but it never added much to my ability to write a coherent English sentence.

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Artemisia Tridentata
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I diagrammed in every grade level after 2nd. But, I am a little grayer than the KQ. I tried to teach number 2 daughter as she never did learn English. I was sure she would learn grammer when she learned Spanish. But, she learned it in Paraguay, where bad Spanish is one of two national languages. Now she is a teacher, she uses her bad spanish with parents, and couldn't teach grammer on a bet.
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Belle
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My 15 year old diagrammed in seventh grade - just three years ago. However, they spent maybe a week on it - so it wasn't as pushed as it normally is.

I think ambyr brings up a really good point - many of the people that are in ESL education or who are foreign language teachers have told me that diagramming does help in understanding the differences between languages.

We discussed this yesterday in one of my classes - before the prof got there I asked everyone (all of them English majors) Rabbit's question about ever using diagramming to help your own writing. Only one person said yes and she said it was only because she was in a generative grammar course at the time and she hasn't done it since.

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The Rabbit
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After thinking about the diagramming question a bit, I'm fairly confident that I learned how to distinguish things like subordinate clauses and prepositional phrases through the process of diagramming complex sentences. While I don't think I can remember how to properly diagram a subordinate clause, I do think about the distinctions between different types of phrases and clauses fairly frequently. When trying to precisely describe technical ideas it's common for people to end up writing excessively complex sentences that can be hard to follow. When I'm trying to fix these problems either in my own writing or that of my students and collaborators, thinking about how the different phrases and clauses work together can help to me find a clearer way of expressing the ideas.

I'm certain there are other ways to learn that material, maybe even better ways. For me personally, I had fun diagramming sentences. It was like solving a puzzle, so perhaps I have retained the material better and longer simply because it was taught using a gimic I enjoyed. But then many of my class mates hated diagramming so I suspect it had exactly the opposite effect on their ability to learn and retain the material.

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maui babe
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My 7th grade English teacher (in the mid 70's) diagrammed one sentence for us. It was almost a history lesson/see how hard we used to have it kind of thing. Right on the same level as "walking to school through the snow, uphill both ways barefoot with my little brother on my back". I never really learned it.
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DDDaysh
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That is very interesting Rabbit. I've always had much more difficulty with technical writing than, say, English class writing. I wonder if my lack of sentence structure knowledge might be one of the things hampering me.
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Eaquae Legit
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For me, I didn't get to diagramming until after I'd already beaten the grammar into my head via Latin. I don't know how I did that, mind. I do remember weeks and weeks of studying the different declensions and what the cases meant. Diagramming was fun for me because it was easy. All I had to do was learn the lingo, basically.

I never learned any grammar in school at all. I didn't know it was still being taught in places, but I'm glad.

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Liz B
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Teaching and learning grammar in English class is only useful when it gives us a common language to talk about language, so that teachers can better help students improve their writing. Improved editing is just one facet of that improvement.

Not that language study isn't interesting, because it is. It's simply my belief that the main goal of the English class should be to teach students to be better readers and writers. This means that students should be taught to (for example) ensure that the pronouns in their writing have clear antecedents--and that no one wastes time trying to find antecedents to pronouns on a worksheet.

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BannaOj
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Hey, I'm sorry I bowed out of this discussion. It wasn't deliberate. I have been ill for the last two weeks, spending all of last week in the hospital for tests. They suspected appendicitis, because it was lower right quadrant abdominal pain, but after 2 CT scans and a colonoscopy that wasn't it. I've been poked and prodded and had numerous other scans and they've finally concluded it may be torn abdominal muscles as a result of extreme nausea.

Anyway I haven't been in any condition to post much.

AJ

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Belle
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Oh dear! Hope you feel better!

The discussion has morphed into grammar and sentence diagramming anyway. [Smile]

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PSI Teleport
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"Not that language study isn't interesting, because it is. It's simply my belief that the main goal of the English class should be to teach students to be better readers and writers. This means that students should be taught to (for example) ensure that the pronouns in their writing have clear antecedents--and that no one wastes time trying to find antecedents to pronouns on a worksheet. "

I agree with you. Unfortunately, I have an English professor who thinks that the main point of English class is to make sure my personal narratives have thesis statements. [Roll Eyes]

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King of Men
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Point to note: I was taught diagramming in Norwegian class around age 11. We were explicitly told that this was not to teach us Norwegian, which presumably we already knew how to speak, but rather so that we would be able to learn other languages. And indeed, I defy anyone to learn German without knowing diagramming, and I suspect the same is true of French. English is unusual in that

a) Many English-speaking students do not learn another language and
b) It doesn't have a lot of grammar-dependent structure, like suffixes depending on the case.

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Jhai
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I'm fluent in German, KoM, and I never learned diagramming. However, the book English Grammar for Students of German was a big help while I was studying the language.
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Eaquae Legit
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English is highly dependent on grammar, but it's syntactical rather than inflected. I would have thought diagramming helpful for learning English since you absolutely need to know what order the elements of a sentence go it. Diagramming an inflection-based language (like Latin, since it's the one I know) strikes me as a nightmare.

Also, I have never diagrammed French but I can comprehend it just fine most of the time. I doubt I'll diagram German when I get to it either.

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DDDaysh
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When I was trying to learn German, the prof was constantly using grammatical terms I'd never even heard, much less understood. It was a nightmare!

Of course, I have little aptitude for foreign languages in any case. I've tried at least 4 and haven't managed to do more than count and say hello in any of them. I simply cannot randomly acquire so much new vocabulary in such a short period of time. Still, I had a much easier time with Spanish grammar than I did German. I do not know if it is simply because Spanish grammar is simpler, or if it was because it was more "user friendly" when taught.

On a side note, does anyone know of any good "do at home" foreign language programs for Pre-K aged kids? Since I'm hopeless with them, I'm looking for one that does not depend on the parent! I'm not saying I wouldn't participate with him, I just don't want to have to be the instructor. I don't want my son to end up as absolutely monolingual as I am, and our school here doesn't start teaching Spanish (the only language offered) until 8th grade. I've looked into "Saturday classes" in the city, but I simply do not think it is practical. We live at least an hour away from any of those places, and we do soccer and many family activities on Saturdays that I don't really want him to miss. Any recommendations for "do at home" programs will be appreciated. Thanks!

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PSI Teleport
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I think that the best thing you could do for a child this age, who probably wouldn't do very well with computer-based programs, would be to just check out a set of Pimsleur CDs in whatever language you want from the library and allow them to play in the house as often as you can stand them.
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The Rabbit
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I had a copy of Rosetta Stone on my computer for a while and my (at the time) 4 year old niece loved it. Since she didn't live with me, she probably didn't play with it enough to learn much language but I managed to learn enough Italian at the time to understand a bit of the commentary when I was in Italy watching the Giro d'Italia.
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