Answers to Questions About Learning New Languages in Your Homeschool
- I don’t have a native speaker. How can we learn?
- Americans can’t do more than one language.
- It’s too hard.
- Homeschoolers don’t have the resources that schools have.
- How can I teach a foreign language when I don’t know one.
- It is a very difficult subject for homeschooling.
- Someday we will learn a foreign language.
- Foreign Language Immersion Update
I don’t know a native speaker. How can we learn?
There are many very homeschool friendly foreign language curriculum products that use native speakers on audio CD’s, audio cassettes, and CD-ROMs. The accent and language patterns are available!
Americans can’t do more than one language.
Not true. We just don’t have a reason because everyone speaks English. I took Spanish in high school and French in college. I don’t remember much, but if I were to live in a country where one of those languages was spoken, I could learn it faster with the knowledge I have.
When I visited my daughter in Germany a few years ago, I decided to take a cram course in German. Since I review curriculum, my thought was to try several language products. With only three weeks to study, I listened to as many CDs as I could and used a couple of simple books. It’s true, most of the Germans we spoke to could speak English. However, simply knowing basics like please, thank you, and numbers helped immensely. For example, I could follow the train announcements because I knew basics.
Now I am working on my Spanish again. I try to review something each day, even if it’s looking at words in the Spanish-English dictionary to see which ones I can remember.
It’s too hard.
No, it takes time and persistent effort like any new venture. I admit with that pending trip to Germany, I was more motivated to learn German. Simply listening to the CD’s will help your brain be ready to learn. While I was cramming German, I woke up from a nap recalling a few German words! I may not be able to repeat everything back when I hear it the first time, but the repetition helps me to remember!
Homeschoolers don’t have the resources that schools have
Again with the foreign language products that are available today–yes, we do have access to very high-quality resources! We have CDs. MP3 players, DVDs, and cohigh-quality can get together with other homeschooling families and do a co-op. My oldest daughter traded babysitting for Spanish tutoring when she was in high school.
How can I teach a foreign language when I don’t know one?
Again, just do the program with your children! You never know when you or the children will have a chance to travel or take a mission trip to a foreign country. The best way to fail is to do nothing. (Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!).
It is a very difficult subject for homeschooling.
Read that last paragraph again. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
Someday we will learn a foreign language.
If you start today, you will. Go to your local library and check out what’s available. Do that program with your children for 21 days. This will make learning your new language a habit. Research the various programs—many have sample CD’s. Then, order your favorite program and “just do it.”
I learned a valuable lesson about learning a new language when we hosted a student from France one summer. Stephanie stayed with us for one month. She had studied English in school for several years, but had never practiced conversation with a native speaker. When she arrived, she didn’t understand much at all. By the time she left she was fluent because she had a chance to practice English conversation. When she came back the next summer, she was rusty at first but was fluent in only a few days. Recently we contacted her after losing track of her for several years. Guess what? Her email to me was very fluent—even though she apologized because she hadn’t spoken English since she was here!
Adapting a line from Bob the Builder—my six-year-old loves that show: Can you learn it! YES, YOU CAN!
Foreign Language Immersion Update 1
I am making a concerted effort to learn Spanish. I had the typical high school experience with a foreign language and remembered a little. My latest efforts include reading a Spanish/English parallel Bible with New Testament and Psalms, listening to the NVI Nuevo Testamento Audio Unabridged CD as I read along in the Spanish New Testament, watching movies in Spanish with English subtitles, and studying.
It is very easy to find this sort of material in Spanish because there are so many Spanish speakers in the US. My sister and daughter study German. I did find a German/English parallel Bible, but it was a lot pricier. There is a free online German audio Bible (Google it), but the cost for purchasing a CD set, when I could find it, was very expensive. There are some foreign language movies in German, but the most common language alternatives for movies made in the US are Spanish and French, probably due to our northern and southern neighbors in Canada and Mexico.
This year I found a private tutor who is helping me with my conversational Spanish. She is also testing me to find weak areas in Spanish grammar. My pronunciation is better than I thought, but I’m dismal at conjugating verbs. I read and translate pretty well if I have a dictionary. The advice about learning lots of vocabulary words and learning each lesson completely before moving on is very valuable. I’m reviewing things I’ve already studied in high school and should have memorized. It is really awesome to have a teacher who makes me work at Spanish.