Today was an exciting day. A very, very exciting day. We got a big box of books shipped directly from Serbia. Here’s the loot: (top) a folktales book, a fairy tales book, two epic poetry books, (bottom) two anthologies of short stories and poems, a picture dictionary, and a poetry collection. They’re all gorgeous and absolutely beautiful. (If you’re eagle-eyed, you’ll see in the picture below that the dictionary uses a different alphabet than the seven other books in the picture, but it’s all good: Serbian is funny and uses both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets interchangeably.)
Part of the reason I’m so excited is that it is hecka difficult to find ANYTHING in the Serbian language here in the United States.
And, due to the fact that we have a fluent Serbian speaker in the home… we elected to teach Serbian as our first foreign language in our homeschool. (I have delusions that Serbian will go well enough for the next few years that I can add in Spanish in Jadzia’s fourth grade, too, but let’s actually experience the next three years before I get carried away with that idea, aye?)
That’s right, Rocketman is fluent in Serbian. He served a proselyting mission in Serbia once upon a time, and learned the language better than many American missionaries do. And when planning my children’s education I just cannot ignore the advantage of having an honest-to-goodness fluent speaker available for heart-to-heart talks in the home every night and weekend, despite the complete lack of printed resources for this specific language.
So. Over the last year for Jadzia’s kindergarten, we’ve been having lessons with a native speaker via Skype who also happens to have some sort of degree in Serbian language and literature. I’m not clear how the university system works in Eastern Europe, so I can’t say if her degree is equivalent to a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate, but we’re friends now so I can’t say it really matters. She knows enough and cares enough to be a grammar nazi to other native speakers, so she gets a gold star of approval from me.
I take advanced (okay, okay, intermediate… like… B1-B2 level) lessons from her a couple times a week, and then the kids get one short lesson weekly as well. That lesson is very light-hearted with lots of games and songs, and stuffed animals and toy cars and airplanes… You get the idea. It’s adorable.
(By the way, if you’re looking for a native tutor in any language, try italki.com. The prices are absolutely fantastic considering that you’re getting private lessons. Cue heavenly angelic choirs. You’re welcome. Also, that’s a referral link. We both get $10 in credit if you have a lesson there using my referral. You’re welcome again. Cha-ching!)
Back to the books. The beautiful, glorious, wonderful books. Real Serbian books. (Did I mention they’re from Serbia?)
They weren’t super duper cheap to ship across the globe, but I decided to splurge on them at the same time as I shipped an entire box of books for the fluent husband’s birthday, too. (Shhhh.) Because I have some curriculum planning to do.
I got the selection of books I did because Jadzia is starting first grade next year and she’s ready to up her game in Serbian once we start formal academics. (And hey, it’s possible the little boys are ready too, but I’m not going to push them. One doesn’t even speak fluent English yet.)
But that means I essentially have to design my own Serbian curriculum. And I’m aiming for the kids to be fluent and reading actual Serbian literature by the time they graduate high school.
Okay, okay, deep breaths, self. We can do this…
Since I’m a Charlotte Mason fangirl to the extreme, I simply must show you this site: Becca at Mason’s Living Languages has done a lot of research for us already, which means I owe that woman a debt of eternal gratitude. All I have to do is do what she says, riiiight?
What am I supposed to do, Becca? TELL ME WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO. Oh. Thank you, Becca. Something like four super short (10- to 15-minute) lessons a week, where one of those is a song. And Becca even explains how to do the lessons. Thaaaank you, Becca. I love you, Becca. HAVE SOME CHOCOLATE, BECCA. MY TREAT.
So anyway, our Skype tutor totally has the conversation and games covered. I just need to fill in with Gouin series (I’ll explain in a mo’), poetry and nursery rhymes, short stories, and songs.
The Gouin series is basically acting out everyday actions while explaining aloud what you’re doing: “I pick up my toothbrush. I put toothpaste on my toothbrush. I brush my teeth. I spit. I rinse.” I admit I got Cherrydale Press‘ Spanish books last year so I could steal their plenitude of series ideas. I’ll have to translate them myself into Serbian, unfortunately. Fortunately, I’ve got both Rocketman and my native tutor to double check ’em all for correctness.
As for the songs, I’ve got plenty of those already. All hail the mighty YouTube. Oh, and all hail the mighty native tutor who knew what to search for on YouTube, I guess.
As for the poetry and short stories… Well, I didn’t have any of those.
Hence the books. From Serbia.
Look, poetry! And nursery rhymes!
And look! Beautiful short stories! (I didn’t photograph the very shortest, simplest stories, but I’ll start with those.)
And since I was splurging, look at this beautiful picture English dictionary. Of course, I don’t need it to learn English… But since they have entire beautiful sentences with the vocabulary in both English AND Serbian, I can use the dang thing in reverse.
Of course there are some… interesting entries… like, loquat. Which is japanska mušmula in Serbian, apparently. Whatever. It’s still lovely. And hecka useful.
So anyway, I’m excited (!!!) but I have my work cut out for me. Translate some Gouin series. Pick out some appropriate rhymes and poems, fairy tales and folktales that the kids might be able to grasp. I am hoping to get most of the work done during the next half-year. And then, come the start of the school year, jump in with open-and-go plans.