Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nouns and Verbs

My sweet baby boy, Jerome just about killed me today with his school work.  As an English language learner, he still struggles to understand some of the fine points of our language, as do most native English speakers.  English is a complex language with lots of messed up rules, and exceptions to the rules.

For the past week or so, I've been sensing that he is just guessing at whether or not a word is a noun or a verb.  So today I made up a list of words from his spelling words and had him sort them into piles; one for verbs and one for nouns.  The first card was 'chin' which he methodically agonized over.  He repeated the word, chin, about 4 gazillion times before announcing it was a verb.  At this point I had to muffle my internal scream.

I backed up the learning train and reviewed that a noun was a person,place, thing (and am currently omitting that a noun is also an idea as it's way to ambiguous for him) and a verb was an Accctttiiiooooonnn word.  I asked him if he could act or do, 'chin' and he said no and touched his chin.  I pointed out that he was touching his chin which makes it a 'thing'!  He finally put it into the 'noun' pile and we moved on.

Next card was drum.  I had drawn a picture of a drum and was intending on the picture denoting a noun and not the action 'to drum'.  He looked at the picture and loudly announced it was  verb.  Once again I squelched my scream and pointed out that the picture was of a drum.  Could he touch it?  Yes, he could.  Then it was a thing which is a noun.  He placed it into the Verb pile and pointed at me and said I was drumming my fingers. 

If I'm frustrated, he must be even more agonized over this.  He continues to smile and work his happy butt off to do school, learn and try his absolute best, but this English stuff is killing me.  Is this normal for an English Language Learner?  Richnigthder is doing much better at his English work, but even he still has issues with adding and 's' to words to denote ownership or plurality.  For example; today he was talking about a friend named Kidane and he said, "Kidane LIKE fruit."  I corrected that one person 'LIKES' but one than one person, like we, and it's 'LIKE."  Tough stuff to teach someone who's only been learning English for a relatively short time.  Am I expecting too much?  Is my Grammarian father's intense desire to speak correctly burdening my two little boys?  Maybe it's just me and I'm a total nut job.

When I hear incorrect grammar, it's like nails-on-a-chalkboard....screeching and infuriating!  Will my little guys ever get the finesse of the English language?  I know as a home educating mom I expect more from my kids, but am I pushing it with their English.  I can't just ignore it when they make these mistakes, but how do I continue to gently correct them without them just shutting down. 

For now I'm just happy that Jerome continues to try over and over and over and over and over again with a smile on his face.  Noun, verb.....I know one cuss word that can be used as both and I'm screaming it to myself right now.  Yep, I'm the next mother of the year!


Kristi said...

Yes you are a total nut job. BUT the good news is it's not because of trying to teach English!! :-) LOL KIDDING!!! Sheesh. English is tough stuff. I think that at some point it just has to click for a kid. Most of the rules and exceptions make no sense whatsoever.

Tifanni said...

They'll get it. Think how far they've come in two years. Just think what another two years will do :)

Tina Hollenbeck said...

I taught English to immigrant kids in the public schools for 9 years - mostly Southeast Asian kids and then, later, Hispanic kids - and, yes, your boys' experiences are totally normal for the amount of time they've been learning the language. It will come over try to keep providing meaningful content without putting too much pressure on any of you.

I laughed out loud for real, by the way, when you mentioned that your one son does not at final -s as needed. My Hmong kids hardly ever did that either, especially with plural nouns, and I didn't understand until one of them was able to explain to me that plural nouns simply don't exist in Hmong. Instead, they put a modifier on the noun (one dog, two dog) to explain number and considered adding a plural ending to be redundant! Of course, I explained that they had to remember to add the ending in English, but it really helped to understand where there was "interference" from their first language.

If you have any questions about language acquisition, just holler. I'd love to help if I can. :^)