Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bilingual Battles : Disney's Frozen, My Secret Weapon...


La Reine des Neiges
La Reine des Neiges French Soundtrack...we have it on a loop

Since we came back to France from Scotland (nearly a year ago!), I've been trying to recreate primary school activities in an attempt to maintain and develop Puce's English.  I thought that a year at Primary School would have got her into the routine of exercise sheets and spelling lists.

I must have been mad.

So I've stopped fighting a losing battle; instead, I've started watching what she does and following her lead. I have a lot to thank Disney's Frozen for.  Her desire to sing along with Elsa after seeing the film in French lead Puce to ask me for the words in French.  Access to Youtube meant that we could watch the song extract in English before the English DVD came out.  We discussed whether the French version of the English version's words fitted the storyline better and we also watched the "making of" film about the French actor Danny Boon (Olaf's voice) dubbing the French version.  Puce then asked me for the English words so she could sing along with that version.  We went through the words together and talked about any words she didn't know, taking a quick detour through the first few minutes of the Khan Academy Koch Snowflake Fractal explanation to better understand what Elsa was talking about.  Hey, even I was learning stuff by this point.

By this point, it was the mid-term school holidays - two weeks with nothing planned and dismal weather.  More wall-to-wall Frozen songs and attempts to copy Elsa's braid.  I then realised that through the subjects in this film, we could talk about vast range of topics - not just songs and hair.

Me, getting carried away...
Obviously, this was where I was slipping back into my previous mistake of wanting to make it "feel like a proper school project", but one thing we did manage was the reading comprehension.  I simplified some text from the Wikipedia page synopsis and used this as a reading passage; I typed out some questions, so it looked like official Frozen information.  I surprised myself at some of the questions I came up with and was even more surprised by Puce's answers.  The final question was:

Some people in Arendelle say that Elsa is a witch.  Do you agree?

We'd run out of enthusiasm for writing answers by this point, but we talked about whether Elsa was a witch.  Puce thought so, but without it necessarily being a bad thing.  I thought she was scared of her powers.  Interesting, especially when I found out that Elsa's role was re-written, changing her influence in the story from villain to misunderstood sibling.

So, although we haven't actually done very much from my rather striking mindmap above, I've realised that I can get a lot more scope for using English if I work with Puce's interests rather than trying to fall back on scholarly activity sheets and workbooks and impose my experience of "being taught" on to her.  I have to keep reminding myself that I can't recreate an artificial learning environment, but I can work with and adapt what's around us thanks to the huge library of resources that are just a click away.

The only downside to all that is that I've now been listening to the French, English and now Spanish versions of Let It Go non-stop for the past seven months...a small price to pay, I guess...

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