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How Important is Foreign Language for Homeschoolers?

How important is a foreign language for homeschoolers?

Teach Foreign Language



Not every adult knows a foreign language, and not every child admitted to college has a foreign language.  In fact, in Washington State if a child earns an AA degree from a community college, and transfers into a state university, they may be able to bypass the entire foreign language requirement.  Some colleges don't have  a foreign language requirement at all, while others will insist on foreign language study before they will grant a degree.  Essentially, if you don't have it going IN to the college, some want you to have it before you leave.

Foreign language study can serve a few purposes.  First, it's a wonderful way to learn about English.  When you study a foreign language and learn about verb tenses and grammar, it can increase knowledge of the English language.  It can also help you understand the differences between languages - for example, some have articles (the) and other's don't.

Second, a foreign language is great critical thinking.  It's often a way for colleges to see how well your child studies and learns, and if they have the study skills necessary for a foreign language.  It does take effort and thought.  Much like math, a language is easier to learn when you do it daily, even if small amounts if necessary.

Third, not all countries speak English.  In fact, one of the biggest complaints about American's is that they think everyone DOES speak English.  One reason for the "rude American" stereotype is when people insist on speaking English-only in a non-English speaking country.  In order to successfully interact with people in other countries, whether as a guest or as a missionary, speaking their language is considered the polite thing to do.  Even if it is just an attempt at their language, it can make all the difference.

If you can't fit foreign language into your normal homeschool week, there are options.  You can search for a college that doesn't require a foreign language.  You can strive for an AA degree from a community college, so that a foreign language requirement may be waived.  You can incorporate natural language learning, rather than textbook learning.   For example, you might learn Spanish during a mission trip to Costa Rica, interacting with native speakers, rather than sit in front of a computer doing Rosetta Stone.

There are a huge variety of foreign languages to choose from;  languages that are spoken around the world, languages that form the basis of scripture.  American Sign Language is accepted at most universities, and it's a great language for kinesthetic learners.  Latin is accepted almost everywhere as well, and it can be a great fit for a logical or non-linguistic child.

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Comments 3

Guest - J W on Saturday, 14 November 2009 20:54

I'm a big advocate for exposing children to foreign language as early as possible. Homeschoolers are in a unique position to do just that. Older kids and adults can approach a foreign language analytically, of course. But young children have a knack for it. This was vividly demonstrated to me when I was in high school. A bit of background - my Russian class was a "one room schoolhouse" with first year, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students all together in the same room at the same time. By my third year, I was well acquainted with beginning students! Third and fourth year students had the privilege of going to an elementary school and doing a half-hour presentation of the language to a classroom. The kindergartners were awesome - they caught on to things way faster than 14 year olds. In my fourth year, I was sent to a sixth-grade classroom. They caught on to things only about as well as first year students. I think their "attitude" was mostly to blame for that. Homeschoolers are in a unique position to nurture and protect curiosity and the love of learning. I'm learning French along with my 7th and 2nd graders, and we're just having tons of fun with it (learning how to conjugate verbs for imperatives and the practicing the formal mode of address with a queen doll was a riot). We're proceeding at a pace my calcified brain can deal with. We don't have any deadline we have to meet for college admission, and by the time we do, I have a feeling the foreign language "thing" will be well in hand.

I'm a big advocate for exposing children to foreign language as early as possible. Homeschoolers are in a unique position to do just that. Older kids and adults can approach a foreign language analytically, of course. But young children have a knack for it. This was vividly demonstrated to me when I was in high school. A bit of background - my Russian class was a "one room schoolhouse" with first year, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students all together in the same room at the same time. By my third year, I was well acquainted with beginning students! Third and fourth year students had the privilege of going to an elementary school and doing a half-hour presentation of the language to a classroom. The kindergartners were awesome - they caught on to things way faster than 14 year olds. In my fourth year, I was sent to a sixth-grade classroom. They caught on to things only about as well as first year students. I think their "attitude" was mostly to blame for that. Homeschoolers are in a unique position to nurture and protect curiosity and the love of learning. I'm learning French along with my 7th and 2nd graders, and we're just having tons of fun with it (learning how to conjugate verbs for imperatives and the practicing the formal mode of address with a queen doll was a riot). We're proceeding at a pace my calcified brain can deal with. We don't have any deadline we have to meet for college admission, and by the time we do, I have a feeling the foreign language "thing" will be well in hand.
Guest - Lee (website) on Thursday, 12 November 2009 18:07

Hi Becky,
The only problem with taking foreign language at a community college is that it goes much MUCH faster than a high school class. For that reason, it's not a fit for everyone. Here is a blog post I wrote about that kind of challenge:
http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/when-does-three-months-equal-one-year/449/

For language un-inclined, it can sometimes help to look at Latin, too. It's a very mathematical language.

Blessings,
Lee

Hi Becky, The only problem with taking foreign language at a community college is that it goes much MUCH faster than a high school class. For that reason, it's not a fit for everyone. Here is a blog post I wrote about that kind of challenge: http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/when-does-three-months-equal-one-year/449/ For language un-inclined, it can sometimes help to look at Latin, too. It's a very mathematical language. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Becky on Thursday, 12 November 2009 17:36

Hi Lee -
We had this conversation recently. A graduated homeschooler said take the foreign language dual enrollment at community college that way it counts for homeschool and college..especially for the language un-inclined. Makes sense. They also said it was easier to "get" face to face rather than through the computer with something like Rosetta Stone.

Becky

Hi Lee - We had this conversation recently. A graduated homeschooler said take the foreign language dual enrollment at community college that way it counts for homeschool and college..especially for the language un-inclined. Makes sense. They also said it was easier to "get" face to face rather than through the computer with something like Rosetta Stone. Becky
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