When you teach your child a foreign language, you give them the gift of the entire world that speaks it.
Foreign language education is a key componant of raising a globally aware child. And for those of us who remember struggling through French class in high school, we know it’s way easier to learn at a younger age.
But what if you’re not bilingual yourself? No worries.
You can still give your child a great foreign language education—-and learn one yourself!
Be prepared to learn together.
If you don’t already speak the language you plan to teach your child, pick one you want to learn yourself.
Instead of teaching your child’s second language, you’re really learning with your child.
But if you’ve been homeschooling for a while, you probably already know that learning is part of the teaching process.
Start with baby books.
Even if you have an older elementary student, begin with baby books written in the language you want to learn.
Think about it: This is how native speakers begin studying their language. So, it makes sense for you to start there, too.
Usually, baby books focus on nouns. Learn to write, read, speak and understand atleast 100 before moving on.
Incorporate words routinely into everyday life.
Begin to work on words and phrases used routinely everyday. Things like:
Start with one, and find a way to incorporate it into your daily routine. For example, say bonjour or nǐ hǎo every morning to greet your child, and encourage your child to say it back.
Become completely comfortable before adding a new word into your routine, and continue to build on it.
Utilize language programs.
This probably seems obvious, but it’s worth noting that language programs like Babble and Rosetta Stone are extremely effective ways to learn a language.
Find one you like and use it regularly.
Use it as a basis for language learning, but don’t use it exclusively. The more well-rounded your foreign language teaching method, the more likely it is to stick.
Switch language/subtitles on the television.
Once your child becomes increasingly comfortable speaking in the chosen language, try choosing a movie they know well.
Switch the spoken language to your chosen language in the language settings, and add subtitles in the foreign language.
This dramatically improves their reading/listening comprehension very, very quickly.
Encourage them to watch the same movie over and over, looking up 5-10 words each time to memorize.
This is also a great way to make productive use of screen time.
Find a native speaker.
If you know someone who speaks the language, by all means, use this resource anyway you can.
But if you don’t, there are lots of ways to connect with people online who are trying to learn English, and you should have no trouble finding a language exchange partner.
A lot of worldschoolers want to drop their kids right into full immersion to learn a language.
There’s nothing wrong with that approach.
But it does take longer and it can be easy to fall into problematic language habits.
I recommend laying the groundwork before you plan to take your homeschooler abroad.
Give yourself several months, or even a year. But once you feel like your child knows the basics solidly, nothing improves their vocabulary and fluency like taking a trip to visit the land of your language’s native speakers.