7 Easy Ways To Homeschool Foreign Language
Successfully homeschooling foreign language is possible!
Being bilingual not only improves cognition and decision-making abilities, but actually leads to a better-paying job! This is precisely why homeschooling foreign languages should have a place in your homeschool schedule.
It’s not as daunting as it sounds, I promise.
Implementing foreign language instruction in your homeschool curriculum is easier than you think and I’ll show you how!
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How to Choose a Foreign Language to Homeschool
If you haven’t yet chosen which foreign language to focus on, this is the moment to decide. There are some things you should consider to narrow your choices.
1. Align Language With Interest
Take into consideration your child’s interests and potential future career choices.
This is probably easier to notice in your older children (especially in terms of career choices) but even smaller kids can show some visible inclinations. In my case, my 8-year-old daughter is choosing French next year to support her interest in fashion design, sketching clothing, and sewing—which she plans to study in Paris!
Students with interests in engineering often opt for German, and Spanish may be a good option for those who want to work in law enforcement, healthcare, or education.
If your child is younger, you have two options: (1) decide for them, or (2) play audio clips of different languages and see which one they find the most appealing.
2. Examine Its Relevance and Prevalence
You can also look at how many speakers around the world use this language to see how useful it will be. The more prevalent a language is, the more likely your child is to use it and the easier it will be for them to find a job in the future.
In terms of prevalence, Spanish or Chinese could be your options as they are two of the top spoken languages in the world. If you’re living in North America or Europe, Spanish will also probably be the best to choose as far as availability of resources and the amount of native speakers around you.
Is it relevant? If you live in the United States, it may be more relevant to have your child learn Spanish than, for example, Turkish (unless you have Turkish roots or it is somehow relevant, of course!).
3. Don’t Forget to Consider the Difficulty
Another element to consider is the difficulty. The Foreign Service Program (FSP) (which provides language courses to U.S. diplomats) divides foreign languages into categories depending on how similar they are to English and how long it will take you to become proficient.
If you have little time before getting fluent, or your linguistic skills are not that great, maybe you should consider Danish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, or any other from their category 1 group.
Still, if your child dreams of learning Ukrainian or Vietnamese, get ready for a long journey!
7 Easy Ways for Homeschooling Foreign Language
After you have chosen the foreign language to homeschool, it’s time to choose the method and plan your homeschool schedule accordingly.
Ideally, you should mix at least two of the following ways to get the best and fastest results while diversifying the resources.
1. Purchase Textbooks
Was this the first thing that came to your mind when you thought about studying a foreign language? Well, you’re right–getting curriculum textbooks is a safe way to approach learning languages.
Textbooks clearly indicate the level covered according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), an international standard for describing language ability. Good language textbooks provide good quality material in terms of grammar, vocabulary, listening, and writing.
Equally important, it’s easy to convert this instruction into high school credit at the level you need, and add it later to your homeschool high school transcript.
What are the cons? You still miss the speaking practice and if you don’t speak the language yourself, you might need someone to clarify doubts, provide guidance, and tutor speech.
2. Use Online Programs
Online Language programs are always a great option and they take the responsibility off your hands. They also provide a very complete curriculum and cover the speaking skills that you won’t get covered with textbooks only.
Simply choose a reliable curriculum provider for the language of your choice and let the others do the homeschooling foreign languages for you.
You can use online programs specifically designed for homeschoolers, and even narrow them down to homeschool high school online programs, or look for one yourself.
You can also check if the online program grants high school credits, like for example Homeschool Spanish Academy, one of the best Spanish programs for homeschoolers, or it will be you who will need to do all the calculations and conversions.
Disadvantages? The cost will be higher than buying textbooks, and you will need to commit to certain hours.
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3. Gamify the Process
Believe it or not, it’s also possible to homeschool foreign language through games and apps and even convert this learning into a high school credit.
You can use well-known options such as Rosetta Stone or Duolingo that clearly determine the level you cover. There are also some really great less known apps such as Practice Portuguese, Yoyo Chinese, or Frantastique.
Cons? You still might need some human guidance, so I would recommend mixing this method with an online program or 1-to-1 tutoring.
Find Your Favorites: 20 Best Apps to Learn Spanish on Your Own
4. Try Language Immersion
Why not language immersion?
This is an option if you have another native speaker at home and you can switch conversations to the target language. You can also take into your house a foreign exchange student through USH Homestay services or ALHI for Christian Family hosts.
If you can afford it, consider traveling to a country of your interest for “destination immersion”. If your kid is big enough you can use popular agencies that will arrange a homestay just for your kid. Try EF Languages Abroad or Global Works for short stays in other countries.
An obvious downside this homeschool foreign language method? The cost.
5. Hire a Tutor
1-to-1 classes can do wonders for language acquisition as the lessons and the content is usually adapted to the student’s specific needs and learning style. In opposition to ready-to-purchase online programs, here the curriculum can be more flexible.
If you can’t find a tutor in your area, there are many online options available. iTalki is probably the most common one and the prices start at $4 per hour.
A tutor can be a great complement to a textbook or app.
Cons? You may have to try a few tutors before finding your ideal one.
Start looking: 6 Excellent Websites With Online Spanish Tutors
6. Use Authentic materials (books, movies)
It’s a great idea to surround yourself with as many authentic materials in the target language as possible.
By reading books that are not simplified or watching original movies and series, the students naturally use the language that is spoken by native speakers—grammar structures, current vocabulary, pronunciation, and intonation.
Read about the theory of comprehensible input and learn how to choose authentic materials to supplement homeschooling foreign languages.
Con? It’s very difficult to homeschool a language only by using authentic materials, without any guidance. However, if combined with other methods, it fast-forwards the learning process.
7. Find a Language Partner
While learning a foreign language, it’s usually the speaking practice that is more difficult to homeschool, especially if no one in your house speaks the language your child is learning..
Finding a language partner that would like to chat with your kid on a regular basis, is a great and inexpensive method. With a foreign partner interested in learning English, your child can have a conversation in English, for example, once a week, and next time in the language that you want to learn.
You can put an advertisement on a local university indicating the languages you could exchange English conversations for, or look on Facebook homeschool forums in the country of your interest.
Con? A language partner is not a teacher and might not be able to explain the grammar intricacies for example. Once again, it’s a great idea to supplement a more formal curriculum.
Choose the Best Homeschooling Foreign Language Method for Your Child
Now that you know the possibilities out there for homeschooling foreign languages, all that is left is to choose the language your kid will learn and find a spot on your busy homeschool schedule.
Think which ones of the above homeschooling foreign language methods will suit best your child’s learning style and your family possibilities. Take into consideration how flexible the method seems to you, how easy to implement, and how affordable it is under your specific circumstances. And then, make it happen.
And this is how easy it is to homeschool foreign languages.
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