FAQ About Homeschooling a Foreign Language
The study of a foreign language has become an essential part of homeschooling worldwide. With 20-30 minutes a day, your child can begin enhancing their studies with the addition of a second language. In only two to three semesters, your high school student can learn to speak a foreign language as proficiently as if they had four years of conventional study.
Homeschool.com consulted with Dr. Robert Blair, legendary maverick linguist and the creator of Power Glide, on the ease and attributes of children learning a second language.
Here are some frequently asked questions about learning a foreign language.
Q: Without a Qualified Teacher or a Speaker Fluent in the Language to Assist with Instruction, Can Children in Homeschool Learn a Language?
A: Yes, depending on what is meant by “learning a language.” While they cannot master a language without considerable face-to-face experience with native speakers of the language, homeschool children of various ages are succeeding remarkably well in learning to speak and understand, read and write, a foreign language. Under the gentle, caring support and guidance of a learning facilitator, and using something as simple as books-with-tapes, even children who are just learning to read can, for example, master a broad repertoire of performances in a new language: songs, poems, anecdotes, stories, and prayers. They can create their own stories and do lots of other impressive things, and all the while experience excitement and delight in their journey into the world of a second language.
Q: What are Parents to Do if They Do Not Speak the Language and Know Even Less About How to Teach Children a Language Not Normally Spoken in the Home?
A: They should first get good homeschool instructional materials that don’t require the parent to know anything about the new language, and that is appropriate to the age level of the children. Whenever possible, they should learn right alongside their children. And what a unique, rich, and wonderful experience that can be! Parents can provide their children with frequent opportunities to display what they have learned and compliment them on each achievement. They can help the children keep a record of their accomplishments and give due rewards for significant achievements. Perhaps, most helpful of all, parents can learn along with their children. This will definitely boost the children’s confidence!
Q: Will Learning to Read, Write, Speak and Understand a Second Language Interfere with the Children’s Learning of English?
A: A considerable amount of research has shown that learning a second language in childhood helps children who are learning to read and write their native language. Effective phonics training can come from learning to read and write a second language, particularly a language whose writing fits closely with its pronunciation.
Q: Please Explain More About How Learning a Second Language Will Aid Homeschool Children in Other Academic Endeavors.
A: Research in the United States and Canada in the 1970s and ’80s has given positive indication that learning a second language gives children a distinct advantage in other school subject areas. In acquiring a second language, children certainly gain insight not only into the new language but also into their own language.
Anything that makes the learning environment fun and interesting will help involve your child’s natural learning abilities. For example, learning about the countries in which the language is spoken helps bring the language to life. One of the best ways to bring the foreign culture home is through cooking. By exploring foreign recipes, the cultural experience can be an authentic one without necessarily having to travel to the country. Through tasting the different spices and flavors of a country’s food, language learners can get a feel for the people and traditions of the country while experiencing excitement and delight in their journey into the world of a second language.
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Special thanks to Dr. Robert Blair for sharing with us about homeschooling Foreign Languages.