29 March 2006

Eclipse Day and Other Stuff

The eclipse is today. We weren’t able to go to Kazakhstan, but that’s okay. It’s been raining all morning so that’s the bigger concern. I’m hoping for better weather this afternoon.

The heat was turned off on Monday. A bit of a problem since the radiators were my clothes dryers and yogurt maker, but we’ll survive. At least the house didn’t flood like several people’s when the water went off. The hot water itself will go off in about a month for a month. We do have a small hot water heater in the bathroom.

There was an interesting discussion on a homeschooling board about learning foreign languages. Several people said that they didn’t see any point in learning a foreign language that wasn’t useful. While I can see that it wouldn’t necessarily be worthwhile for an adult to sit down and learn, say, Tagalog if they had absolutely to connection to the Philippines, I think that for students, any language is worth learning. Of course, if you want to learn Tagolog, then it would be worth learning.

I think it’s better to let a student study a language they’re really interested in instead of trying to figure out what will be useful. You have no idea what will be useful in 10 years anyway, since you don’t know what the international situation will be or where your children will be living. I’ve been studying Russian here because it’s useful. But I haven’t really enjoyed it. Kyrgyz isn’t really useful, especially outside Kyrgyzstan, but since I want to learn it, I've liked it a lot better. And aren't you supposed to enjoy learning?

Besides, it’s highly unlikely that any homeschooled or public schooled student is going to learn a foreign language really well anyway. Languages are learned when you spend a lot of time with native speakers and that’s pretty much impossible in a school setting (of course, some people have had success with this). That’s why I like Latin as a first language. You don’t have to worry about the conversation and you can learn how languages work. Then you can go on to whatever language the student is interested in. You never know what might come in handy. At least you be better prepared to learn another language later on if you want.

I don’t know why Fox News is available here. CNN and BBC are also, but they make sense because they have an international perspective. Fox News is so centered on the US that it’s hardly worth watching here. It would be like a news program from Russia being broadcast in the US in Russian on the most basic cable package.

I am about ready to go nuts without more books. I’ve been able to scrounge up enough book that I always have something to read, but I’d really like more choice and I’d really like to have more books for homeschooling. I’ll be shipping a stack of books here soon, I think. We were able to find some Tatar, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz dictionaries though.

And I will never complain about Wal-Mart quality again. Never. Almost everything you buy here is along the lines of dollar-store quality. Furniture falls apart, plastic is flimsy, toys break, legos don’t work. That’s not all. Buildings crumble, phone lines lie on the floor for you to trip on, the internet runs incredibly slowly sometimes (I have been sitting here for an hour trying to check my email). The washing machine can only go once a day or it won’t spin right. I’m lucky to have a washing machine and at all and to not have it be tiny, but with little children, sometimes it’s not easy to keep up. Now I am done complaining.

1 comment:

  1. We saw the partial eclipse that was visible here. The UAEU Physics department set up a telescope with filter and a sunscope and were handing out glasses for people to look at the eclipse with. My kids loved it. I was happy they chose to set it up at the mall, so that a lot more people could participate. We even saw the taxi drivers using their new glasses to watch the eclipse. :)