Less than 1 percent of Australians today are proficient in a foreign language that they studied in the classroom.
Many students struggle to learn a foreign language in a classroom setting. As homeschoolers, we’re not bound by that system and in fact, our freedom from it gives us our children distinct advantages as language learners.
Here are six distinct advantages that homeschoolers have for learning foreign languages. Because of these advantages, homeschool students can be much more successful at language learning than their traditionally schooled peers.
Homeschooled children know how to teach themselves—and that’s the number one quality of successful language learners.
There’s no real magic bullet to language learning, but there are a few practices that make it much easier for students. At the very top of that list is having good study habits and knowing how to learn. Being able to set realistic academic goals, make consistent progress towards them, and evaluate the end result are essential skills for any language learning (and studying any subject, really).
Homeschooling lets parents customise language learning to fit their children’s unique needs.
If you’ve homeschooled more than one child, you already know that no two children learn exactly the same way. As homeschoolers, however, we can tailor our children’s language learning to their specific needs. We can choose a program that best fits our kids, add in extra practice for the areas where they struggle, or even speed up the pace, allowing them to advance in the areas where they learn quickly.
Homeschoolers have access to language learning technology that can be more effective than classroom teaching.
In a traditional foreign language classroom, one teacher is responsible for motivating and monitoring the progress of 18 or more students. Homeschoolers, however, don’t have to settle for large group language instruction.
Homeschooling allows families to make the crucial connection between languages and cultures.
Today’s homeschooling world is rapidly diversifying, with families from many different cultures and ethnicities now choosing to educate their children at home. With the flexibility that homeschooling provides, families can make the meaningful choice to study a language that is closely connected to their own cultural heritage or choose one that a relative, neighbour or friend speaks.
Homeschooling families can provide the essential emotional support children need when learning a language.
Learning a language is tricky. We make embarrassing mistakes, struggle with pronunciation, and inevitably get tripped up by one grammar rule or another. Given the awkwardness of learning a foreign language, then, what better way to do it than at home, within the safe and encouraging environment of a family?
Homeschooled students can choose to study the languages that most interest them, ensuring that they have real motivation for their language learning.
Instead of being confined to a few traditional options, your homeschool student can choose from dozens of languages to study, so they’ll be able to pick that one that truly interests them. Euka offers Spanish and can provide this language to your portal.
Creative ways to Easily Homeschool Foreign Languages:
Consider Language Immersion
Language immersion occurs when a fluent speaker uses a second language exclusively with his student, both in teaching and in regular conversation. Children learn their native language through language immersion, and the technique proves just as useful when learning a second language.
This option works best when one parent in the home speaks the second language fluently. In many bilingual families, the parents agree that one will talk to the child exclusively in English, while the other parent speaks only the second language. This practice allows the child to learn both languages simultaneously. You can also do this with extended family, a friend or a neighbour.
Use Language Learning Programs, Games, and Apps
You can introduce your child to another language through media such as language programs, CDs, and games. Some fantastic options include:
Duolingo is one of my favourite foreign language apps. You can download it for free on iTunes, Android, and Windows. I love it because it’s free (woohoo!), fun (bonus!), and offers a fantastic selection of languages to choose from.
Duolingo currently offers:
Watch a Movie
The next time you have a family movie night, opt for a foreign film with English subtitles. Even if your child can’t read the subtitles, he can still follow along with the action of the movie by watching and listening.
Another simple way to introduce your child to another language is to change the audio track on their favourite movies to the language that they are learning. Since they already know what is going on in the movie (they could probably quote it word-for-word, right?), your child can pick up on the language as they watch and listen to the dialogue in a second language.
Check Out Books
Most public libraries and bookstores offer reading material in a variety of languages. Many libraries also have children’s books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, with English text on one page and the foreign translation on the facing page. Ask your librarian for recommendations.
Hire a Tutor
You can also consider hiring a tutor to teach your child a second language. Connect with local schools and colleges, fellow homeschoolers, and community boards to see if you can find an effective and affordable tutor in your area.
If possible, travel to other parts of the world, so that your child will literally be immersed in the other language (and culture) on a daily basis. I know this isn’t an option for every family, but if it is I would definitely consider taking advantage of it!
Learning a second language is just one more of the unique opportunities that we have as homeschoolers. We’ve got a great shot at this!