Friday, July 16, 2010

How Unschoolers Learn to Say Frog (and what frogs say) in Japanese

Now I'm sure, this is not the way every unschooler out there learns to say frog in Japanese. And, I know just enough Japanese to know saying frog is probably a good deal more complicated than what I'm going to share here. But, I was so struck by the sheer unschoolness of the moment, that I had to tell you about, too.

It started when the Man of the House took our seven year old fishing (this is apparently our summer for fishing).

D, had a great time fishing, observed for most of it, by his new friend - the frog. The arrow in the picture to the left, indicates the location of the frog.

Being seven, he was quite taken with the amphibian, and was very excited to find out all about it. When, he got home, and we'd loaded the pictures onto the computer, we were able to sort through the various frog information, and pictures in the online Montana Field Guide (a terrific resource), to determining it was a Columbia Spotted Frog.

The field guide provided some interesting tidbits about the frog, but I decided it would also be nice to gather some more kid-friendly information for my little herpetologist.
So, I made a quick stop at our local library's website, to put some of books about frogs, both fiction, and nonfiction, on hold. Then, I popped over to Netflix, to see if there were any instant streaming, Discovery Channel type shows about frogs.

What I came up with was Sgt. Frog, some sort of strange cartoon - not what I was looking for, but it caught the attention of the 12 year old, looking over my shoulder.

"Wow, that's coming out in English, huh?"

Of course, being a mother, I quizzed him over what he knew about the show, and where he'd seen it. Apparently, he's run into it, while searching for information on other animes, but he's always seen it talked about under it's Japanese name, "Gunso Keroro" (I think I got that right).

While he was explaining that to me, I watched a little light bulb go on over his head.

"Hey, if gunso means sergeant (which he learned from some other anime), do you think Keroro means frog?"

So, I steered off course, to an online Japanese/English translator, where we found out that keroro does not mean frog. Kaeru means frog. But, the sound frogs make in Japanese is kero kero, from which keroro is derived. So basically, if I'm understanding correctly, Gunso Keroro means Sgt. Ribbit.

I don't think it's a linguistic lesson either of us will soon forget. Of course, the little man also brought home a pocket full of purple pebbles from the stream, so I think there some geological studies in our future, too.

It's great to be a(n) (un)homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

That is a very cool story. I loved it...all of it.

Joyful Learner said...

This makes sense! While reading this, my light bulb went on about a little green Sanrio character named Keroppi!

Love that you guys went fishing and saw a frog! One of the to-do's on our list before JC grows up!

Debbie said...

I love how all this came together into one great learning experience! I keep looking when we are out around the water to find a frog for Selena, haven't found anything but Salamanders though.

Ticia said...

How cool is that? My kids are determined to find homes for all the frogs we find. That and their theory is the frogs will eat the ants......

And the song, I think it does a good job of pointing out that both the positive and the negative of what we do is mimicked by what our kids do.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I just love how you follow your children interest considering that you have six little personalities in the house. Amazing!