Homeschooling Parents Can Teach Foreign Languages

by multilingualmania on March 10, 2011

in Language Learning

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Foreign languages are increasingly becoming part of homeschool curricula for a variety of reasons. Typically, to be effective, the parent or parents need to learn the language with their child. This is especially the case with young kids, because they need to interact with other people in their second language as much as possible. To help with the learning process, many homeschooling parents use books, DVDs, and other products such as Powerspeak and Rosetta Stone. Some parents even hire foreign language tutors.

Here are some other media that homeschooling parents can use to teach their child a foreign language:

  • Foreign language television programs
  • Foreign language movies, bilingual or with subtitles
  • Music channels
  • Books on tape
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines

Now let’s take a closer look at some of the popular products and strategies that homeschooling parents are employing:

Powerspeak

Powerspeak courses meet the national standards set by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). PowerspeakK12 is accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools, Colleges, and Universities and has received the coveted Practical Home Schooling Reader’s Choice Award for five consecutive years.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone received the 2010 United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) silver award in the Best Practices in Distance Learning Programming. The company’s top notch products have received awards from homeschool organizations and publications such as Practical Homeschooling i-Learn Awards, Homeschooling Parent Magazine, and The Old Schoolhouse.

Immersion

Some companies claim that their curricula teaches by immersion. However, their products are often expensive and you need to purchase additional CDs or DVDs for the audio and visual components.

Immersion is a great way to learn a new language; however, some experts contend that learning by CDs or DVDs is not really immersion. Immersion occurs when you go to a foreign country and hear and speak only the native language for a substantial period of time.

If you can afford it, take the family to a foreign country where the language of interest is spoken. Or, visiting a section of a nearby metropolitan area where the foreign language is prevalent is a practical and less expensive alternative. Also, find out if church members, co-workers, or friends speak the language or know someone who does. Engaging in conversation with native speakers is a great way to learn.

Online Resources

Homeschool.com provides links to quality foreign language courses.

If you’re interested in teaching your kids Spanish, The Spanish Lessons web page provided by GoMilpitas.com is an excellent online resource. The web page offers links for resources on the following topics:

  • Spanish for young children
  • Spanish for beginners
  • Advanced Spanish
  • Comprehensive Spanish sites
  • Online Spanish forum
  • Stories and songs
  • Software

The website’s languages web page has resources for a variety of other languages as well.

LiveMocha

In an article published at families.com, Tricia Edgar discusses the available online resources for learning a second language. She mentions she’s intrigued by LiveMocha, which, in her words, “is a combination of social networking and language learning and would be appropriate for an older teenager or a younger one if supervised.” LiveMocha has built a thriving community around language learning.

LiveMocha offers some free courses along with others that are very reasonably priced. These courses combine reading, writing, and speaking. After students complete their exercises they may submit them to the larger community for evaluation. Native speakers provide comments on the work and help students improve.

Teaching a foreign language in a homeschool environment can be difficult if the parent isn’t already proficient in the language. Fortunately, there are a number quality products and online resources available to help.

Brian Jenkins has been a member of BrainTrack’s writing staff since 2008. He contributes feature articles about college degrees in teaching foreign languages, among other education topics.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ana Lomba March 11, 2011 at 7:34 am

I invite you to see a webinar I presented on the topic of teaching languages to toddlers and preschoolers: http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.org/webinar-resources/ (scroll down the page to find it). It includes specific strategies and activities that are ideal for teaching languages to young children.

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