We have been so very blessed recently to become more active in studying foreign languages. From the very first time I visited Germany when I was younger, I have had a passion for international languages and life. Today, as a homeschool momma of four I cannot get around the world, but by hosting foreign exchange students, we still get to enjoy the experience of another country, at home. And share our great nation with another too!
My oldest son is currently using Mango Languages for Mandarin Chinese and French too. I currently use this same program for German and all of us are working on Spanish together using this.
I know so many people tend to shy away from foreign languages. If you don’t know one yourself it can be pretty scary. Even for those of us who have a league or two under our belt, it can be an uncomfortable thing. But, it’s possible. More than possible. It is doable. You CAN teach your child a foreign language and have fun doing it! And there are so many great reasons to study foreign languages. Believe it or not it can help you learn English, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. How about teaching character skills? After all this isn’t easy. Learning teaches our children hard work and study skills. Which means they learn patience, self control and perseverance (we hope anyway).
Don’t forget about those things that are right there in your community too. We love the library, and its a great place to find and try different language learning programs. You can find dictionaries, audio books, and computer courses (any have the Rosetta Stone program too). You can find lots of books in Spanish, French, German and many other languages as well to help develop your reading skills. Consider using children’s books when you first begin learning a language. It helps a lot more than you may think with comprehension.
There are actually several books that we enjoy together, in our own library at home which help children learn all about different parts of the world. My favorites are: Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World, Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! ( carnivals, festivals and holidays), and then the Find Out About Series which includes France , Italy, and Spain. These teach not just language but history and culture too. These are great for children, and are a great introduction for the younger ones to different people and places.
Let’s not forget the internet and YouTube, these are full of great and free resources, to help guide you in your learning. The sky is the limit here. Here your children can learn stories and songs, in the language they are learning, for a real immersion experience.They can explore maps of different areas around the world too. Who doesn’t love to learn in a way that is living?
One central site I love to visit more for studying languages than studying a language specifically, is Omniglot. I came across this one recently and just love it. Basically it is an encyclopedia of writing systems and languages, with more than 180 writing systems and information on over 600 languages. WOW! This is full of introductions to alphabets and other writing systems. Almost all the writing systems currently in use and many extinct ones. There are many great learning tools here too to take language learning to a whole new level with details of language families, advice on how to learn languages, and language-related articles and videos. All for free. (I am such a geek) LOL
The key to foreign language is consistency. Practice every day, using it as much as you can. Maybe fifteen minutes each day will get you started. The more you use it the easier it will be. Consider learning as a family or having siblings learn together. There was a tie we labelled everything in the house to help reinforce the words in the language my son was learning. Play games, read books, write and sing song in that language throughout the day. Make it a part of your life and your routine. Find opportunities to use what you learn each day. It can be as simple as saying “hello” or “thank you” in a different language, or have a foreign exchange student over (consider hosting – our family loves to do this), or share a meal with your family from the country whose language you are studying.
Until we meet again… Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, sayonara, farvel, gule gule, do svidaniya, Zai jian… goodbye for now. 🙂