The following is a post from contributing writer Angie.
If you have decided to add foreign language study to your homeschooling, you might be wondering about extra activities you can add in to help work on that foreign language. Or, you might be unsure about where to even start with foreign language instruction, especially if you’re choosing a language that doesn’t have a lot of materials readily available.
In past years, we’ve tried a lot of different types of curriculum for foreign language (and three different languages before finally settling on the one I have wanted to do all along). This year, we’re trying more of an eclectic approach to foreign language instruction by adding in activities from many different sources. These are methods that would be wonderful no matter what second language you want to work on with your children.
So, whether your choice of language is something with materials readily available in the homeschool market or virtually non-existent, these ideas will supplement your materials or work in lieu of materials.
Foreign Language Activities for Homeschool
1. Second Language Learning Software – There are some big, expensive programs and some programs that are not nearly as pricey. Check out what programs might work best for your family’s needs and budget.
2. Read Children’s Books – Why not use reading time to tackle a classic children’s book that your kids may be familiar with, but in the language you are studying? Examples might include books like Bonsoir Lune (Goodnight Moon in French) or Un Pez, Dos Pez, Pez Rojo, Pez Azul (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish in Spanish).
3. Songs, Rhymes, and Games – A simple Google search can lead you to traditional songs, rhymes, and games in many languages. If you feel uncertain about pronunciations, you can find CDs or audio files (from places like iTunes) to purchase so the whole family can sing along.
4. Labeling Your Home – Just like you might have seen in classrooms for early readers, you can label items like clocks, doors, televisions, computers, and more. Make sure to include articles before words, if your language of choice has them (such as la porte for door, if studying French).
5. Workbooks – A great way to get extra practice in another language is to use workbooks, which can be purchased, or you could use self-made worksheets. This year, we are using several French workbooks (so I can pick and choose pages) that we purchased from Amazon, as well as French in 10 Minutes a Day (which is also available in a large variety of languages).
6. Movies and Videos – Children’s programs in a foreign language can be a great starting point. Another fun thing could be to watch a movie that you are familiar with that has closed captioning available in another language. (This, however, will likely only be helpful if you are studying something like Spanish or French.)
7. Attend Classes or Hire a Native Speaker – Scout out your area for classes in your chosen second language that might be appropriate for your child. If this isn’t available, you can hire a native speaker to come into your home to use the language around your children, even if it’s just in a very casual way.
8. Bible Verses and Prayers – The Bible can be found online in many different languages. This can be a fabulous way to work on verse memorization and a second language all at the same time! You can also work on learning prayers in the foreign language of your choice. (Though we’re working on French, we’ve worked on learning some prayers in Latin.)
9. Country History and Culture – While learning a language is great, it is an amazing way to supplement that information by learning about a country where the language is spoken. You can study their history, traditions, foods (and even make some), and much more. It’s a great way to combine geography and second language learning.
10. Visit a Place Where the Language is Spoken – We’re not going to be jetting off to Paris any time soon. However, it is reasonable to think that once our children worked more on French that we could visit an area of French speaking Canada. Even more accessible to us was Disney’s Epcot French pavilion where our kids made sure to use plenty of just a few words (bon jour, merci, and au revoire) while we visited .
Do you work on a second language with your children? If so, which language?
What are some ways that you’ve worked to supplement the language learning?
About number 10. Yes, you can jet off to Paris. Well, your child can with the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. It’s not expensive (the cost of one round trip ticket, small application fee and a doctors exam as I recall) is all it costs us. And your child could be off to almost any country in the world learning a language first hand.
Our homeschooling family has first hand experience in send a child and hosting a child for nine months. Best thing we ever did. My child was hosted by three lovely families in Belgium where she learned French, Belgian culture and way, way more. All three families were a delight and still keep in touch. The RYP program does have your child attend private or public school but focus is on language learning not academics. My student was allowed to decide which classes she would take or not and was allowed to be dismissed from school for Rotary and family events. This enabled my daughter to travel to many UN and EU functions with her host family and to attend Rotary events with other students when she wanted. Overall an excellent experience and the perfect way to learn a language–in the native country!
Elizabeth@Warrior Wives says
As a former French teacher, LOVE that you chose French as your language! I was homeschooled for most of my educational life and the only reason I learned French (well) is because another homeschooler offered French classes. Curriculums are great, but my feeling is that language is by nature, social. You HAVE to find a way to use it with other people or it probably won’t really stick. My plan is to offer French classes to homeschoolers in my area as well…once I don’t have a 4 yr old, a 3 yr old and an 8 month old, that is. 🙂
Angie @ Many Little Blessings says
I think that’s a fabulous idea! I wish someone would offer French classes around here.
Jade Clark says
I love reading familiar children’s books in Spanish instead of English to my kiddos. They seem to really enjoy it too. Fantastic post!
Toshau Leonard says
Thank you so much for share this we are starting our first year with French as our 2nd laungue. We are lucky and acually have a family member who is from France so we hope to get to go sometime in the future. I wanted point out real quick the Canadian French and French are almost two completely different laungues . And even being fluent in France French will be difficult to do in Canada . Just though u might wanna know before hand we found out the hard wAy when my family member went and visited Canada :-). Again thanks for all ur tips I sure will be using them this year.
I’m “Québécoise”… I am from province of Québec where you are most likely to hear french in Canada. I disagree with Toshau. It is not two different languages. We have our local idiomatic expressions, yes it is true. French in Canada has evolved differently than in France but as people are getting more educated, we are speaking a little bit more of what we call “international french” as the years go by and with a minimum of effort you will be able to understand. It depends where you are from and how much you care about your language. The same is true in USA. It is hard for me to understand people with southern accent. You will always have people who will use slang more than others.
I am a french native married to an american and it has been REALLY HARD to keep my language alive in our home. I admire you pioneer women for your endeavour! Another help to consider is the Alliance Francaise Centers that can be found in some cities. http://www.afusa.org/ They offer free conversation groups, french books and movies, french cultural events and much more. A great way to meet natives or lovers of France, locally!
Heather Mac says
Love this article. Great tips and suggestions.
My youngest is learning French . . . we are learning together, that is! She has a passion for missions and wants to be a missionary in Haiti. So, we take French.
We are using several tools but our favorite is First Step in francias – FREE online tv show http://www.knowitall.org/instantreplay/content/program.cfm?SeriesIDpassed=45 – You can also download the free study guides.
Angie @ Many Little Blessings says
Thanks for sharing the videos! We’ll have to check them out.
If you want to be a missionnary in Haïti you should take creole instead because it is not every people that are french speakers there.
Check your library. Several of my children have tried out new languages through our library’s free access to Mango languages and Muzzy online. While this isn’t a full fledged language program, it is a great introduction and has many practice options.
For Hebrew, I’ve been using books, music, various free podcasts, Mango (free), Livemocha (free), and the Bible! For Hebrew, using the Bible is one of the best resources! 🙂
Angie, don’t forget that you can also use skype and have a native speaker (from wherever in the world!) teach your kids that way! I am a native speaker of Russian and have quite a few Russian friends who teach Russian via Skype!