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By Julia Solovieva – Language teacher with more than 10 years of experience in teaching English as a second language. You can follow her on FB on Random English.
Whether you have already decided to homeschool your child or are still thinking about it, a few tips on how to teach foreign language at school will surely come in handy: they can help you make up your mind or add variety to your homeschooling.
Although there is no consensus on the exact best age to start learning a language, most researchers agree that learning foreign languages is highly beneficial. And teaching your kids at home will help them master the target language even more successfully.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of homeschooling foreign languages to your children and some of the best tips on how to do it.
Why should I homeschool my child?
Why should I homeschool my toddler? This is a completely legitimate question. After all, most schools and many kindergartens nowadays teach children a second language – why should you spend your time and effort on what teachers will do later anyway?
In fact, homeschooling in general and homeschooling foreign languages, in particular, can be highly beneficial.
Here are some of the biggest advantages of teaching foreign languages in homeschool:
- You can start at as early an age as you see fit
- It offers more flexibility in terms of time, curriculum, activities, etc.
- It is also a great opportunity for some quality time and bonding with your child
- There is less distraction from other children
- It allows you to focus exclusively on your child’s needs and provides for a more child-led learning
- Children are often less shy and more eager to communicate with their parent than in a classroom
Best tips on how to teach foreign language in homeschool
If you have never done it before, homeschooling a foreign language to your child can seem quite challenging. It is totally natural to feel unsure. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
With the following tips, you’ll get a better understanding of how to teach foreign language in homeschool – and you’ll be able to start doing it almost immediately.
Remember your child’s age
Toddlers learn almost exclusively .
You can’t sit them down and explain grammar or vocabulary definitions to them – well, you can try, but it won’t be productive at all. Keep your child’s age in mind at all times and select relevant materials and activities.
Make a plan
To help children stay on track and make sure that they learn the things necessary and appropriate for their age, schools and preschools have quite detailed curriculums. You don’t have to be as thorough, but having a plan is very helpful.
Think of when and what you want to teach your child, what games and you will use, what activities you will try and how long they should take.
You can always tweak your plan on the go, removing the things that don’t work and concentrating more on those that do. However, starting with at least a rough plan when homeschooling your child is essential.
Playing language games is one of the easiest and most fun ways to help your child acquire a foreign language. In , you will find several great tips on how to play games with kids to promote second language acquisition.
Although it is called ‘homeschooling’, it doesn’t have to happen exclusively at home.
Going to museums and zoos, going camping – even just watching garbage trucks outside – will provide you with lots of opportunities to teach your child something useful, including some language.
Make use of technology
Even if you don’t let your child play any mobile or computer games yet, introducing some tech into your language learning session can kill at least two birds with one stone.
First of all, using mobile/computer games can be very motivating in itself. Language games made for young kids are bright, colorful, and fun, they easily attract and hold children’s attention.
Secondly, such games offer a great interactive way to learn through play, practice vocabulary and pronunciation.
Don’t rely on technology too much, however – don’t just sit your child in front of a computer or smartphone and let them play games for hours on end.
Add mobile/computer games to your learning sessions as a colorful interactive element, something you and your child do together, among other things.
Try language immersion
Language immersion means being completely surrounded by the target language for a period of time: you speak only the target language with your child, all the games, toys, and other materials that you use are in the target language only; and you don’t use your mother tongue at all.
It may be a bit hard to do if you are not fluent in the language your child is learning, but it is still doable. You can challenge yourself as a language learner trying to speak only your target language at least for a short time.
You can also invite a tutor or a friend/relative who is fluent in the foreign language to spend some time with your child surrounding them with the language.
Learning a language takes time, even for young children who absorb many things like a sponge.
Things will often go not according to plan or slower than you want them. Some activities simply won’t work. Some games or toys may seem fun, but your child won’t enjoy them. It may take your child a while to grasp some concepts.
Don’t rush things, don’t push your child to learn harder and faster than they are. At a young age, language learning should literally be just fun and games, not hard work.
Join the community
On the Internet, you can find lots of other parents from all over the world homeschooling their kids foreign languages and other subjects.
https://www.homeschool.com/ – a large resource with tips, curriculum samples, free resources, and a hub for homeschooling parents
https://hslda.org/content/orgs/# – a list of homeschooling organisations in the USA + homeschooling tips and legal advice
https://www.edplace.com/homeschooling/communities-support – tips on finding homeschooling communities online
Lists of helpful homeschooling resources:
Don’t be afraid to get in touch and use their experience!
If they have been doing it for some time, they have most likely tried different things, made some mistakes, had some insights, and can share with you what has worked for them and what hasn’t.
Moral support from people who are going through the same things as you can also be extremely helpful.