Immerse Your Family in a Second Language

Immerse Your Family in a Second Language

Our Sponsor: Rosetta Stone
Finally! Language learning that delivers.

It’s early morning in the heartland of America. The sounds and smells of breakfast fill the air as you hear, “Leve-toi, Debbie, il est tard.”

You rub your eyes for a moment. Then, as the sleepy fog rises, you realize it’s only mom telling you that it’s time to get up. You lie there a moment and then answer, “Oui, Maman, je me leve. Tout de suite.”

Does this sound like a typical way to wake your English-speaking child each day? It can be if you are a homeschool family learning a second language together.

As a homeschooling family, you have the fabulous opportunity to see that your children acquire a second language as a part of your curriculum. More importantly, because you have the benefit of spending so much time with your children you have the even greater opportunity of helping them become proficient by learning the language together as a family. As a family, learning a foreign language together can become so much more than just a subject of your core curriculum. It can be a rich, immersive experience into the sights, sounds, tastes and feel of another culture that expands your view while increasing your children’s ability to communicate using a second language on a proficient level.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) states that

“Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate in a pluralistic American society and abroad.”

Unfortunately for many years foreign language studies primarily focused on the how (grammar) and what (vocabulary) necessary to learn a second language. While these components are of great importance when learning a new language, embracing meaningful ways of communication, such as encouraging practical applications and cultural understandings have become crucial components of proficiency.

Immersion methods that incorporate the why, whom and when as opposed to isolated grammar and vocabulary drill have become part of the foundational cornerstone for successful comprehension and the appropriate use of a second language.

To encourage you to use an immersive approach to the learning of a second language the ACTFL suggests 5 important elements that they call “The 5 C’s of Foreign Language Education.”

The 5 C’s of Foreign Language Education

  1. Communication
    Communication is at the heart of second language study. Whether the communication takes place face-to-face, in writing or across centuries through the reading of literature.
  2. Culture
    Through the study of other languages, students gain knowledge and understanding of the cultures that use the language and, in fact, cannot truly master the language until they have also mastered the cultural contexts in which the language occurs.
  3. Connections
    Learning a second language provides connections to additional bodies of knowledge that may be unavailable to the monolingual English speaker.
  4. Comparisons
    Through comparisons and contrasts with the language being studied, students develop insight into the nature of language and the concept of culture and realize that there are multiple ways of viewing the world.
  5. Communities
    Together these elements enable the student of languages to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world in a variety of contexts and in culturally appropriate ways.

By incorporating the basic philosophy of the 5 C’s into your homeschool programming, you will be taking the most important step toward creating an immersive environment for foreign language development.

Here are some basic tips to help you incorporate this philosophy in the development of your foreign language programming:

Surround your family with the spoken word. Listening to the language is the first step to creating an immersive environment. In order to comprehend and communicate, children must discover the meaning and function of the language by listening to actual conversation. Just as an infant begins to speak their native language after picking up on sound clues through exposure to those talking around him, so you can enhance your family’s experience by surrounding them with everyday conversations spoken in the second language. Movies, books on tape and music are some of the resources you can find at your local library to enhance your language programming.

Seek opportunities to meet people who speak the language. Often families choose a second language that is a part of their heritage or one that is spoken by a noticeable percentage of people in the community where they live. Look around your community and seek ways to involve your family in activities where they can hear the language in action and even better, interact in real situations with those who speak the language. Frequent ethnic restaurants, attend cultural events and seek out mentors who can help your family develop an understanding of real usage.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just as you acquired your native language by experimenting with phrases and learning correct application over time, you must allow your children to practice speaking and learn to problem-solve so that they can connect the rules of grammar with what they see and hear. Critical thinking and the ability to pick up on the clues from conversation are important to help children reach successful conclusions when practicing to speak a second language.

Choose an immersive second language program. If one member of your family is not already a native speaker of the language you choose to teach your children, be sure to choose a learning program that not only puts to use the basic grammar and vocabulary building blocks of that language, but one that also incorporates audio and graphic technologies that create the conditions needed to make the language come alive and have meaning.

Learn Together
Support your children by making the acquisition of a second language a family affair. There is no magic textbook or program that can solely guarantee your child achieves second language mastery. The key is you – the immersive parent-teacher. You are your child’s most important guide. Your enthusiasm and participation will make the experience real as you incorporate the second language as part of your family’s daily routine.

Whether your initial goal is to prepare your children for a career in the international market place, diplomatic position in government service or simply fulfill a graduation requirement, learning a second language together as a family will enrich your homeschooling experience as it prepares your children for success in our global society.

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Our Sponsor: Rosetta Stone
Finally! Language learning that delivers.

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The natural way we learn native languages as children remains, for everyone, the most successful method for learning new languages. So join the millions of satisfied Rosetta Stone users and immerse yourself into a new language today.

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