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 Post subject: Tips for parents
PostPosted: Thu 29 Mar 2012 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon 29 Aug 2011 3:36 am
Posts: 247
Even if you don't know a word of Irish, there's a lot you can do to help your children with their Irish homework. You'll be teaching them how to teach themselves. Here's a sample question from a homework assignment that we were once asked to help with. I'll use it to illustrate my point.

Tabhair cuntas gairid ar a bhfuil sa dán sin faoin ábhar atá roghnaithe agat agus a gcuireann an file an abhair sin os a gcomhair.

I'm not surprised the child didn't understand this particular question*. I bet if the question has been written as two or three simpler questions, the child would have understood it, or at least most of it. But this sort of thing is very common. My advice to students is: If you don't understand the question at first, don't panic. Just start chipping away at it.

I think you'll find these techniques helpful for learning any language.

1. When your child doesn't understand a sentence, ask her if there are any words in the sentence that she does know. You might pencil in those words above the sentence.

Using ??? to indicate the unfamiliar words, you might end up with something like this:

Give ??? short ??? on ??? in that poem under/about ??? at you and ??? the poet ??? that across.

I've assumed that the unfamiliar words are: cuntas, ábhar, atá, roghnaithe, gcuireann, abhair. She probably knows that "an bhfuil" can be used to ask a question, but maybe she doesn't understand what "a bhfuil" means.

2. Ask her to take a second look at the words she doesn't know, and see if they look familiar, but spelled a little differently than usual. It might be a word she knows, but in a different form because of the grammar involved.

At this point, she might realise that "atá" looks a lot like "tá", which means "is", and "gcuireann" looks a lot like "cuireann", which means "put". And since "an bhfuil" means "is", let's guess that "a bhfuil" might mean something similar. So pencil those words in too. You might put a question mark after them to indicate you're not sure. So now we have:

Give ??? short ??? on ??? is? in that poem under/about is? ??? at you and put the poet ??? that across.

3. Ask her to try to guess what the question is.

She may say she doesn't have any idea. So then ask her "Well, it has something to do with that poem. What do you think they might ask you?" At this point she might say something like "Maybe they'd ask me what the poem is about." Already we have a rough idea what the question is, and we haven't even opened a dictionary or told her anything she didn't already know! Remind her that if she's taking an exam and doesn't understand the question, she could always take a guess and try to answer whatever she thinks the question means. Chances are she'd at least get partial credit, which is far better than giving up.

4. Finally, and only after doing the above steps, consult a dictionary for the unfamiliar words. See the tips at the bottom of this page:

Pencilling in the meaning of the words we just looked up, we have something like this:

Give account short ??? on ??? is? in that poem under/about is? chosen at you and put the poet subject that across.

5. Ask her to use her knowledge of the differences between English and Irish grammar to figure out as much of the sentence as she can.

For example, in Irish, adjectives go after the noun, but in English they go before. Similarly, verbs and subjects are usually in reverse order. So now we have:

Give short account on ??? is? in that poem about is? chosen at you and the poet put that subject across.

6. Again, ask her to guess what the question is.

There are still some parts of the question that she might not understand, but hopefully she'll realise that the gist of it is "give a short account of what the poem is about ... and how the poet put the subject across".

This may seem laborious, but after going through it a few times, it gets faster. Before long she'll do this in her head.

*And in fact, the sentence seems to be missing a couple of words. Perhaps it was miscopied.

Here are some more ideas from today's "guest wombat":
Redwolf wrote:
These suggestions are geared more toward parents of elementary school children, but they can be used with older kids who are struggling with Irish as well.

One way that a parent can help a child, even if the parent doesn't know the language the child is learning, is by helping the child make flashcards of vocabulary words and simple phrases. The child can use a packet of index cards, writing the Irish on the one side and the English translation on the other side (this, in and of itself is a good study aid). The parent can then make a game out of drilling the child with the flashcards.

As the child advances, the flashcards can be more specialized...for example, different declensions of a verb, grammar rules to memorize, etc.

The parent can help the child make post-it notes to stick all over the house with the name of the object being labeled on it: Tolg, balla, doras, fuinneog, etc.

If at all possible, the parent can either start taking Irish classes, or start a self-learning method...even if he or she starts at a level below the child's. This not only emphasizes to the child that the parent is serious enough about the subject to try learning it himself/herself, but gives the child an opportunity to help the parent (a change in roles that most children enjoy...and they don't even realize that, by helping the parent, they're learning as well! "Qui docet discet!")



Finally, here are a few general tips I give students:

Image An excerpt from Wombat's Words of Wisdom Image
WWoW #27: Students, your time is precious, and you have to ration it carefully! Before you look up how to say something in Irish, ask yourself if you're likely to need it again soon. If not, rephrase it to something you already know how to say. Better to have a smaller vocabulary that you know how to use well, than a large vocabulary that you're not really comfortable with.

Image An excerpt from Wombat's Words of Wisdom Image
WWoW #48: Try to express everything in terms of sentence structures you've seen before, and that you know are okay. You can generally swap nouns for nouns, adjectives for adjectives, and so forth, and you'll still end up with a grammatically correct sentence. But if you try to get much fancier than that, you usually end up leaving a trail of broken and maimed words that even hyenas will refuse to devour for fear of defilement.

Image An excerpt from Wombat's Words of Wisdom Image
WWoW #83: When you are given a homework assignment and you have difficulty even understanding the question, don't panic. First, look at the question for any words or phrases you recognise. Then ask yourself what kind of question would be likely to include those words. Once you have made an educated guess at the translation, look at the question again to see if your guess makes sense.

Image An excerpt from Wombat's Words of Wisdom Image
WWoW #217: Don't try to write your essay in English first, and then translate that into Irish. You'll end up writing sentences in English that are too difficult for you to translate. Instead, write directly in Irish, in baby sentences. Once you have the grammar right in those baby sentences, then you can join them together to make more sophisticated sentences.

賢いふくろぐま Image
Seans Eile - free software to help you practice your Irish
Scéala na Wombait - Muddle-headed Memes and Musings

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