Sunday, November 7, 2010

Batizado and Reading

Note to self, and any of you who might be as dunderheaded as Yours Truly: Don't watch The Road, by yourself, if you're already kinda bummed out, even if you've been waiting months to see it. Some are born fools and some seek out a higher realm of foolishness by re-watching parts of the movie and re-reading the end of the book the next day.

And that's all I'm going to say about that. Instead, and in an effort to cheer myself up, I'm going to do a Proud Papa Post.

First up, and I should have posted this a while ago, Lucas had his Capoeira Batizado two weeks ago. Even though I no longer train Capoeira, I still think it's great that it is taught in so many of the schools here, and even though I wish Lucas trained the other style (like I did) I'm very pleased that he had his Batizado and enjoyed it so much.

For those of you not in the know, Batizado means baptism and everyone who trains the Regional style long enough participates in one, and receives their first colored cord, and often a nickname. Lucas' mestre had already given him and his other classmates nicknames, so that wasn't part of the deal for his group. Actually, I think the nickname bit is more formalized in the exterior rather than here in Brazil, or at least here in Bahia, where nicknames are an integral part of life. But I don't really know. My own first Capoeira teacher started us in Regional but he switched to the other style, Angola, before we had our Batizado, so I never took part in one myself.

Woah! Enough with the italics already.

As for the event itself, it was a bunch of proud parents in an auditorium watching kids be cute up on the stage and feeling bad for the ones that got scared and started crying. Well, I did anyways. Luckily only a couple kids freaked out. Myself, I hated getting on stage in front of people as a kid and I still remember when I was in kindergarten we put on a school play and at the last minute I refused to go on. My poor teacher had to cover for me. I think I was supposed to be an ant.

Anyhow, here's his game:

Traditionally the student is supposed to be taken down by the person playing him or her, but they don't do that at Lucas' school.

Bravo Lucas! Congratulations! Now he's after me to get a frame for the certificate that he got with the cord. Soon enough, my son.

In other news, I discovered that Lucas has started reading. Four years of private school finally starting to pay off. Despite all the grumbling I hear from other parents that his school is 'weak' and that 'they aren't learning anything' it appears my faith and patience with their method has not been unwarranted. This all came about because he has been bringing home some 'homework' every week with a simple phrase across the bottom that he is then supposed to draw a picture from. Last week the phrase was 'the caterpillar sees the monkey in the coconut palm.' He always rattles off the phrase, but I wasn't sure if he was actually reading it or just parroting it, and when I tried to pin him down on what the words were he would get confused and not recite them properly. This made me discouraged so I went and talked to the teacher. She responded by pulling out a big stack of flash cards, each with a simple word on it, and then tossing them out for Lucas to read. Lo and behold he knew a bunch of those words. Not all of them, but a lot. I was thrilled. Beside myself.

I couldn't help remembering my own experience with flash cards, which were an integral part of my learning Portuguese. Back in New York City, about ten years ago now, I realized that a big part of learning the language was just going to be rote memorization and what better way to do so than by making lots and lots of flash cards that I could then study on the subway. So I did. I made hundreds of the things, which I'd carry around in little packets and flip through whenever I got a chance. English on one side, Portuguese on the other, and I would go over and over them until the word sprung instantly into my brain in both languages. It worked pretty well.

When Lucas came home that night I told him how happy I was about his reading, and the next thing I know we are making a game of it, writing up our own cards and having his action figures read them out to one another, kinda like a game show. In the process of doing this I discovered that he can indeed sound out words (for the most part), so my approach must have been unfamiliar and confusing to him.

This weekend I decided to experiment with taking it to the next level, combining his experience with my own. I took some of the cards we made and wrote the English equivalents on the back to see how he'd handle it. So far, so good. I don't want to push him too hard, and I don't want to get him confused, but if it seems to be working I'm gonna go for it. I'm really not clear on how much I should be stressing the fact that an h or an r in English sounds nothing like it does in Portuguese, but since he seems to have the two spoken languages so clearly separated in his brain I figure it couldn't hurt to try it out with the written versions. Let's hope he continues to enjoy our word game show.