I’m visiting with Dutch relatives and naturally thinking about language use and comprehensibility.
I spoke Dutch for about a year when I was five, and then used it again for a summer when I was ten. I’ve had occasional exposure to it since, and started reading when Alike (see right sidebar) gave me some children’s reading last summer, but haven’t really tried to keep it up.
What saves me in conversations is first that I know all the “little” words. But, also, for, from, is, was, all, of, there, then, always, not, no, yes… all these and who knows how many more are not even a question for my brain. It makes me think that I need to make sure that my kids know these words especially well. More about that in a moment. Then the next thing is all the cognates. There are a lot of them in Dutch for an English speaker. And finally, since I am writing this as my cousin shows his mother pictures of his trip to Turkey, I am again astounded by how much the visual helps with context. She is asking questions, and he is answering them. I could do that in class with a native speaker.
Back to those little words. There is a reading site that I’ve kind of lost track of. Valerie Thornbur (Thornber?) explains that most of French can be comprehensible with only 12 little words, and she is right. She has pictures and three levels of reading on her site, which basically is the same thing as Embedded Reading, but she is concentrating on it as continuing to use those little words. I like them also as sight words; kids need to be able to read them in Cyrillic instantly as well as being able to understand them instantly. I think that I might do well to go back to my “sight words” list at the beginning of the year again.
I may be on vacation, but I am missing my TPRS community!