Speaking of summer reading, I usually try to concoct some sort of educational project for the kids and me to do together. I try to down play the academic aspect so as not to be accused of teaching in the summer.
I've tried a couple of things each summer...drawing class, grammar lessons (slight dip in popularity with that choice), zoology, astronomy...some worked, some are fodder for this blog.
There was the summer that I bought Latin workbooks and audio tapes. We had a great time trying to learn the basic construction of a dead language. We listened to the voice on tape pronounce the letters and sounds and we would repeat. It took almost an entire workbook to realize there was a very big reason these tapes were priced so low. Apparently, the narrator giving the Latin pronunciation spoke with a lisp, so the pronunciations weren't completely accurate. Instead of learning to speak Latin, we were, in actuality speaking Lathin.
Last summer I found a website called Teach Yourself Persian in 100 Easy Lessons. This became more practical than the Lathin. Having a working understanding of Persian, which is Farsi, a popular language spoken in Iran, carried over into matters of national security.
Believe it or not, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave those caustic speeches to us Americans, I was the only one in the free world who could accurately translate his diatribe. Instead of screeching about oil and bombs he was actually auditioning for a spot on The View. Several key elements in his speeches were misrepresented in a malevolent light. Instead of bloodshed, he actually said, "I like to wear expensive suits," and "How can I get on Wheel of Fortune?" But nobody else really knows that.
Plus, when you don't have anyone to practice a language with, you lose it pretty quickly. So now the only word I remember in Farsi is frog, which doesn't come in handy on a daily basis, but if it's ever a Jeopardy! question, I'm all over that.