“Language learning is uniquely powerful in that it is really about other people and learning to love them.” – from the Brave Writer Podcast episode featuring Anne Guarnera
From the moment we knew we wanted to homeschool, my husband and I knew that learning about other cultures was going to be a cornerstone of our children’s education (and our own.) Down the road, we’d like to travel extensively, spending time with people from all over this big, beautiful world. But for now, we are opening that worldview up with a different window–learning foreign languages.
We’ve always included the casual addition of foreign language into our studies. As we read our way through the continent of Africa, we are learning to count in Swahili (or Kiswahili, as we learned to be the proper name for this beautiful language.) When we lived on the Big Island, we attended a program that taught us songs, words, and phrases in Hawaiian. I read the Spanish words and the English words on the signs that my daughter points out when we’re shopping.
Languages help us to see how beautifully diverse our world is, and teach us the value of seeing things from someone else’s perspective. It’s a wonderfully humbling experience to clumsily ask someone for help in another language, and it’s a very touching experience to have that person patiently smile at you, then offer a hand when you’re done. Languages remind us of our many difference while simultaneously assuring us that we are all tied together.
We want our daughters to be familiar with many languages by the time they leave our home. I decided early on that I wanted them to be fluent in at least two foreign languages by then, and knew I needed to start now (in the early years) when learning them is so much easier. French was the obvious choice for the first language they’d learn–I speak it myself.
An Unsuccessful First Year of Homeschool French
Despite this fact, the first year of trying to teach it was unsuccessful. Even though I speak it, I didn’t know where to start with teaching it. I taught them a few random phrases, then panicked and tried to find a curriculum. I tried Dino Lingo, videos that I could stream through our library, but we all found the videos obnoxiously over-stimulating. I wasn’t willing to invest in Rosetta Stone for a language I already know. The apps and books that were recommended to me seemed disjointed and stiff. I gave up halfway through the year, telling myself I’d come back to it for the 2018-2019 school year.
Somewhere along the line, it occurred to me that I was trying way too hard in my first attempt. Almost everything else in our homeschool is relaxed and designed to delight, why not French? My daughters love to be read to, they love to sing, they love to play games–this is how we learn almost everything else. So I decided that’s what we’d do for French, too.
A New Approach to Early Language Learning
This year, I’ve approached French with a completely different mindset. I use a variety of materials I’ve pulled from TeachersPayTeachers and Amazon, which I will link to at the end of this post. I am focusing on introducing vocabulary and simple phrases through games, readers and books, and songs. We do French during our morning basket time, and I spend less than ten minutes a month on planning. We’re having so much fun, and the girls are learning new words and phrases every week. When they get a little older, we will join our local French Alliance so they can really dive into the cultures that speak this beautiful language.
Watch the video below to see all of the resources we are using, and how I am combining them in an easy, stress-free way:
Links from the video:
Fairytale Emergent Readers:
Music (I stream it on Amazon Music):
Whistlefritz music on Amazon (I say Whisker Fritz in the video…oops lol)
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