How to Choose the Perfect Homeschool Foreign Language Curriculum
Trying to find the perfect homeschool foreign language curriculum for your student?
Maybe it’s the same language that they studied last year, but your goal is to level up. Maybe it’s a completely new language and you’re kind of lost with what to look for, and which language curriculum to choose.
Whatever your case is, choosing the right homeschool foreign language curriculum is half of the success. Good programs are constructed in a way that lets the students go up the levels of proficiency at their pace and while having fun.
If you need help with what to look for when choosing a foreign language curriculum, you’re in the right place!
I’ll tell you what criteria are important when looking for a language program whether it’s for younger or high school students. I’ll also throw in some additional details in terms of specific languages you might be considering: Spanish, French, German, and Russian.
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Criteria Guide to Choose Your Homeschool Foreign Language Curriculum
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when looking for the best foreign language programs. Sometimes there’s no correct answer, but you need to decide what answer will suit your specific family needs.
Is It a Homeschool Oriented Curriculum?
There are many mainstream foreign language programs on the market that are not necessarily homeschool oriented, quite often they’re simply language programs, or supplementary tools and not actual curriculums. For example, Duolingo or Falou can help you practice a foreign language but will not teach it, despite their promotional bold promises.
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Is It Age Appropriate?
It’s not a secret that some curriculums have been designed with small kids in mind and some are oriented towards older students.
Depending on your child’s age, you’ll be looking for different things. With preschool and early elementary students, there’s less focus on writing and reading, but more on listening and speaking. Older students need more grammar support to scaffold their knowledge, and high school students might need a curriculum that offers high school credits.
Always check the target age before signing up to avoid wasting time and money.
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Does It Offer Any Materials?
Many homeschool foreign language curriculums offer additional materials. How much do you want your child to be engaged after the lesson? Do you want printed books or online materials or a platform to practice? Maybe you’d like posters to hang around with vocabulary and grammar rules? Or some listening files to download?
Does it Offer a Free Trial?
For me, it’s an important factor. Don’t buy a pig in a poke. There are many less valuable products on the market with incredible promotional campaigns that finally don’t offer the quality you might be expecting from a complete foreign language curriculum.
A free trial lets you check both the teacher as well as your child’s engagement and motivation. Human relations are complicated, and a successful student-teacher relationship needs specific educational chemistry. What works for one student, won’t work for another because of preferred learning style.
Is the Curriculum Pre-Designed and Transparent?
Do you know what the curriculum covers? Was it designed by professionals? What will be the grammar topics that your student will learn or vocabulary areas? What’s the expected progress?
Can you see before buying the program all that information?
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Is the Cost Acceptable For Your Family Needs?
Foreign Language Curriculums can be sold at different prices and some are more expensive than others. It doesn’t mean that they’re not worth the price but the cost can be too high for your family’s needs.
It’s also important to check the flexibility of payments. Do you have to pay for the whole program in one installment or the curriculum can be paid termly or monthly? Maybe you only pay for the number of lessons you want?
How Many Levels Does It Cover?
Do you need only the basics or do you need the curriculum to take your students on a certain level that is for example an entry requirement for a specific university degree?
A professional homeschool foreign language curriculum should be very transparent in terms of levels covered and should use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). So if A2 or C1 says nothing to you, check the link before you book a course.
Does It Cover All the Skills?
Will your child get enough practice in listening, reading, writing, and speaking? While listening and reading are easy to offer, reading and writing require more involvement from the curriculum provider. Written work must be checked and feedback given and speaking situations must be previously designed and monitored.
Does It Offer Enough Practice?
How much time a day the program requires your child to get involved? If it offers miracles with one or even two hours a week, go to the next curriculum option.
It doesn’t mean that you need to book a 1-hour lesson per day but you should check if and how the curriculum plans your child’s daily practice.
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Is It Fun And Engaging For Your Child?
Let’s be honest, if it’s not fun, there is little possibility of success.
Motivation is crucial and if lessons seem boring your child won’t learn anything. Now, the concept of fun is broad and subjective and what seems engaging to your 7-year old son may be dead boring to your teenage daughter. You know your kids best and should choose accordingly.
What’s The Required Parent Involvement?
Do you want a homeschool foreign language curriculum that requires minimum parental involvement? Is your child able to learn independently and let you focus on other things? Many programs offer an open-and-go curriculum that will meet your standards.
However, you might also be interested in being more involved either because your kid needs it or because you want to learn alongside.
Does It Align With Your Homeschool Philosophy?
I’m sure you started homeschooling for some very specific reasons. Usually one of them is disappointment with the traditional educational system and traditional teaching methods.
In this case, you probably won’t like a language program that is based on memorization and requires frequent testing.
Nowadays, it’s not complicated to find homeschool language curriculums that align with certain homeschooling philosophies ( Montessori, Waldorf, classical, Charlotte Manson, unschooling, Christian, or others).
Does It Offer Any Cultural Insight?
Combining language and culture in a foreign language curriculum provides your child with a bigger picture and additional motivation. Your kid will learn eagerly if they feel fascinated by what the specific culture offers.
Check if your chosen curriculum provides a cultural component.
Is the Curriculum Flexible?
Is the foreign language homeschool curriculum written in stone? Is the pace determined and your child is obliged to cover the material within the time given?
Why it’s important to know the curriculum boundaries before booking a course, it’s also important to know that your child will get help if they get stuck or will be given more challenging material if they prove gifted.
How to Choose the Best Foreign Language for Your Student
After you have some initial issues solved, you might want to choose some specifics depending on the language chosen.
If you want to homeschool Spanish, you need to decide first what “Spanish” are you looking for. Are you more Latin-America centered? Any specific accent that seems more interesting? Or maybe you want to learn the Castilian version from Spain?
There will be differences not only in pronunciation, and intonation but also in grammar and vocabulary.
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In the case of French, you should also opt for the Canadian or European version. The European version may seem tempting but if you spend every holiday in Quebec, maybe you should consider the other.
French spelling and pronunciation are tricky, and the homeschool foreign language curriculum you choose should spend a significant amount of time covering these areas.
Both Spanish and French belong to Category I according to FSI, which teaches languages to U.S. diplomats and your kid will need about 23-24 weeks (575-600) to reach fluency.
Check Classic French for a reliable French Curriculum.
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In the case of German, the dialect version is not that important. Of course, they also speak German, which is a bit distinct in Switzerland but as long as your child is not fixed on a university in Zurich, you have nothing to worry about.
The challenging thing in German for English speakers is grammar, so look for a curriculum that will teach noun articles and declinations in an engaging and effective way.
German belongs to Category II, according to FSI, meaning that it’s more challenging than French or Spanish. You’ll need about 30 weeks (750 hours) to become proficient.
Check out this Time4learning Curriculum for homeschooling German.
Russian is Category 4 according to FSI so get ready for a long journey. 44 weeks that translate into 1100 hours are required to learn it. It means that your child would need to spend at least 3 years studying an hour a day to become fluent.
What makes Russian challenging? Well, almost everything for a standard English speaker: pronunciation, noun cases, and verb conjugation. To say nothing of the alphabet that is different from the one you know.
Remember, no matter how challenging a language is if this is the one your child wants to learn, go for it. The only exception is when you’re pressed on time. If your child is finishing high school and needs to tackle a new foreign language, choose Spanish. It’s the easiest to learn and the easiest to find resources and opportunities to practice for U.S. speakers.
Check Red Kalinka for a comprehensive homeschool Russian Curriculum.
Find the Perfect Homeschool Foreign Language Curriculum!
Now, all that is left is to choose the language and start looking for a comprehensive homeschool foreign language curriculum that will meet your child’s learning style and your family’s needs.
Don’t rush through the process, take your time and ask all the questions you need. Your kid’s time is a precious resource and you want to invest it wisely.
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