When I was homeschooling, I thought teach foreign language was hard. From my perspective as a math/science gal, I can also say I thought it was icky, yucky and not my cup of tea. But, it’s also possible. It’s doable. Even I could do it! Teaching your child a foreign language is not insurmountable, even for homeschool parents who don’t know a second language.
In Europe, many countries teach a variety of languages to school children. I have heard that in Germany, kids learn one language in early elementary, another in middle school, and another in high school. I guess that means German kids know four languages by the time they graduate from high school. I’m pretty sure that demonstrates foreign language is possible for everyone.
There are some great reasons to study a foreign language. Like math and science, the study of foreign language has value. Even though it isn’t my preference, and I would rather work on math, I can still see benefits.
Learning a foreign language can help you learn English, learn vocabulary, and learn critical thinking. It can teach kids to be less ethnocentric. It’s critical as a Christian, to help fulfill the great commission. It’s also not easy, so it can teach hard work and study skills. It’s sort of like math that way. And, remember, I like math!
So, how do you make learning foreign language fun and easy?
When we were homeschooling, I was pretty excited when I figured out that DVD movies have subtitles in French, Spanish, and sometimes other languages as well. In fact, when you go to the library or video store, you can look specifically for DVDs in different languages. We would watch them in English with French subtitles – or vice versa! Our favorite movies were animated, so we didn’t get annoyed by the way the lips moved.
What if you want to use a foreign language curriculum? We used Power Glide and loved it. Rosetta Stone is often available through the library system (i.e., free.) Foreign languages are available at co-ops. For Latin, I really loved The Latin Road to English Grammar. I had no real Latin background, and when I looked at the other books they looked SO difficult to even start their programs. Latin Road is written by a homeschool mom who assumes you know nothing — an accurate assumption in my case! I worked two weeks ahead of my kids for the whole year, doing the work before them. The student does copy work, copying off the information in the textbook so they can learn the information slowly as they are writing.
There are a huge variety of foreign languages to choose from; languages that are spoken around the world, languages that form the basis of scripture. American Sign Language is accepted at some universities, and it’s a great language for kinesthetic learners. Latin is accepted at almost all colleges, and it can be a great fit for a logical or mathematical children.
Remember the key to foreign language is consistency every day, most of the year. Fifteen minutes per day is enough to make forward momentum. Any language program and any language choice can fail if you don’t work on it regularly. To work regularly, you can all do a foreign language with all your children together, even if they are working at completely different levels using completely different curricula. For consistency, it makes sense to choose a foreign language that your whole family can work on together
There is no one “right” foreign language to take, but I hope these points can help you make a decision that is right for your family.
Lee Binz is The HomeScholar. Her mission is “helping parents homeschool high school.” Her free mini-course, “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Homeschooling High School,” is a great introduction to high school essentials. Her free newsletter provides monthly encouragement and support. Her homeschool transcript solution teaches parents how to create high school transcripts for every homeschool style. You can get a daily dose of high school help at her blog, The HomeScholar Helper, recently voted as the “best homeschool business blog.” You can find Lee online at www.TheHomeScholar.com, onFacebook.com/TheHomeScholar, on Twitter.com/TheHomeScholar, and on Pinterest.com/Homescholar.