View Poll Results: What is your foreign language experience during the elementary years?

Voters
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  • My kids learned fine through a good program a few times a week.

    2 15.38%
  • My kids learned through a program and interacting with a fluent speaker ("immersion")

    4 30.77%
  • My kids are raised bilingual, no formal program needed for the most part.

    2 15.38%
  • We did a couple years, but it didnt stick once we stopped.

    0 0%
  • We tried for a while, then decided to revisit when theyre a bit older.

    5 38.46%
  • My darling(s) have expressed no interest (or opposition), and I have bigger fish to fry.

    0 0%
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  1. #1

    Default Elementary-Aged foreign language experiences

    There have been lots of studies showing how there are foreign language / pronunciation windows which close by the time a kid is a teenager.... yet it is a required high school class, not an elementary grade class.
    Being the overzealous new homeschooler I was, I tried encouraging Spanish. All those programs and apps. He just never was interested.
    Am I dooming my kids to monolingualism for the rest of their life? Does it take immersion, someone consistently talking in that language with the kid? Are my results so far (n=1) typical? Am I just a bad homeschool parent?
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.

    Atheist.

    My spelling and typing are fine, its my keyboard that doesnt cooperate.

  2. T4L In Forum Aug18
  3. #2

    Default

    Both of my kids did Rosetta Stone Spanish starting around age 8.

    DD did very well with it. When she hit high school age, she aced through 4 semesters of college Spanish. I wouldn't say she's a fluent speaker, but even now, she sometimes watches Spanish TV for fun.

    DS HATED it. He later took 2 semesters of college Spanish while in high school, but only because he needed it for college admissions. He would learn it for the test, then promptly forget it. So I guess he's doomed to monolingualism. Which is really weird, because he knows several computer languages by heart. He just says it's different....
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter (21), a University of Iowa senior triple majoring in English with Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son (20), a Purdue University junior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, and history

  4. #3

    Default

    I learned English in my teenage-early 20s years. Yes, I still have an accent, but so what. I have not noticed it being a problem even with me living in this country and speaking English with DH and kids.

    I did not raise my kids bilingual. I had 'bigger fish' to fry with my oldest being SN and having three kids so close together. This year, I have started doing Russian with DD7 - formal books plus immersion 3-4 times a week. We go through learning to write and read formally and then I talk to her or watch a Russian cartoon with her. DD4 is tagging along sometimes. Will see what happens. I do not really care if they become really fluent in Russian. It is just something to do for their brains. They can always learn any language they need/want later in life. Yes, it will not be perfect, they will never pass for native speakers, but do they have to?

    As to the parental guilt for not doing so-and-so, there are so many areas, and all of them are important, and most of them have 'closing windows', and there is no way to hit them all. Even if you started your son on Spanish when he was 2, you would have missed the window for French, and Mandarin, and Russian...and how about the 'closing window' for becoming a professional ice-skater or violinist. You are not going to pound yourself for missing those, aren't you?
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD8, DD6

  5. #4
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    Default

    Interested in this conversation - as it is something I'll consider of the next few years. DS has expressed some interest in learning a second language - repeats what he hears on tv, asks about languages, etc. I think he would learn better through songs and videos than an app - since he's just not into apps.

    I had Spanish and French in elementary. The goal, I think, wasn't to make us fluent speakers but to introduce us to foreign language - possibly to see if anyone had an aptitude for it? Idk. I had to choose a language in middle school, so it was good to have that experience. I did French in middle and Spanish in high school. I don't speak either, but I can eaves drop a little.

    Several family members have asked if I'm going to teach Spanish. I'm actually more interested in Latin - since I wouldn't expect him/them to speak any of it, Latin seems to have more English applications than Spanish. I realize that no matter what language I choose the kids won't be fluent until they have someone to speak with fluently. So why not pick one that isn't spoken.

    I did take a course in reading which addressed language acquisition and development. I can't remember that much, but yeah easier for kids to learn than adults - that was my take-away. I remember them telling us that continuous practice is needed or kids who learn young will lose it. I feel like there was something about kids who learn a second language early may have an easier time learning another language(s) later. This was all before kids. Now all my brains be mush.
    Last edited by TFZ; 10-11-2016 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Taking out some "lol"s. I'm a maniac today.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

    I gather all kinds of secular homeschool resources and share them at TheHomeschoolResourceRoom.com.

  6. #5

    Default

    I didn't vote because none of the options really applied to us.

    We are not fluent in Spanish, but DH and I both speak it. We have used it off and on for a while. We used to live on the border of Mexico, when DS was between the ages of 2-7, so we were exposed to Spanish on a daily basis. We watched Sesame Street in Spanish, as well as played games. We still have phrases that we still use in Spanish and we have been working on learning words off and on. DS learning how to order in Spanish when we go to our local Mexican food restaurant, but they kind of look at us funny and DS felt self conscience, so he doesn't want to try again. We have been speaking Spanish more at home lately. I purchased some worksheets to get some ideas. DS was into it for a couple of weeks, but then it seemed like work to him. So we are just playing with the language.

    I have downloaded apps that explore different languages, just to get DS used to different alphabets and sounds of language. We have played with Gus on the Go, which required no reading. During that period he was interested in Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Vietnamese. I have children's books in French, Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, German, and Dutch. My French is dreadful and I don't speak German or Dutch. We fumble through it using Google Translate for pronunciation. The other languages I have studied or lived in a country that speaks it, so while I may not be fluent, I can get by when necessary. So I can play with the languages and DS will ask how to say hello or thank you. We like to travel, so I am big on learning how to say please, thank you and where is the bathroom in the local language.

    I have wanted to improve my Arabic, so I have started watching Sesame Street in Arabic and DS is now becoming interested. (Yes, my vocabulary is at a preschoolers level. And that is for verbal. I barely know my alphabet in Arabic, but I am working on it. )

    We have been reading the Greetings From Somewhere books and DS really likes them. In each book they teach a few words in the local language, so we have had fun working with some languages and expanding on what we already know.

    So I really don't have a method. I am looking for familiarity instead of fluency, inclusiveness instead of difference.
    A mama, who teaches college writing, as well as help her 10-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.
    I also share free and low-cost educational resources at
    http://chooseourownadventures.blogspot.com

  7. #6

    Default

    Our oldest started Spanish immersion mommy and me classes when she was 2, because she expressed an interest in what language other people were speaking around her when we lived in San Diego, and from my side it was just another fun activity to add to our day (it was all music and games). She then did some immersion preschool, and when we moved back to NZ we have tried to keep this up with the music we have, various online lessons, and the occasional tutor if we find a willing native speaker who has the free time. Our goals are not fluency, or even really having a native accent, although I feel practicing a different accent is a good workout for their brain. We would like if they can maintain enough of a natural accent to be understood by a native speaker. As an adult I have tried to learn Spanish when my daughter was so interested in it, but having never done languages, I have found speaking with an accent that is good enough to make myself understood is difficult. I feel like English may be more accommodating of accent differences because there are so many anyway. Although, we encountered our fair share of blank stares in the USA because of our accent and differences in word choices. Mandarin and other tonal languages strike me as really difficult, I could not even hear the differences between some of the tones in a Mandarin lesson we went to.

    We are interested in maintaining languages as long as our kids are interested in them, so far we just provide the materials and opportunities and our oldest is very self-motivated to keep going. She has tried the odd lessons at other languages, French and Mandarin, and is always interested in learning more but I have no idea how we would fit it in. I guess we could drop Spanish and pick up another completely, but she still loves Spanish. If she was not so interested in languages, we would not be doing it. I like that it gives them an appreciation and knowledge of other cultures, and it gives them a different understanding/view of the world (I find Spanish describes things in a different way to English, and some languages have words that we don't). We don't spend a lot of time on it. Anywhere between 10 and 30 mins a day when we include a formal lesson time, which we usually do on 34 days a week. If we don't get to a formal lesson time, we just try to practice our vocabulary an opportune moment during the day.

    NZ is very monolingual and can be very insular. Languages are not introduced until grade 7/8, and even then it is only an introduction, more in-depth language classes don't start till highschool. They do some Maori in class, but its more of a formality thing because its required in the curriculum, and they do not do enough to actually gain any benefits from second language learning. It would be great if they did more. Maori is only spoken by a small population in NZ, but I think all languages are equally valuable for making your brain think/work differently, and I really like what it introduces in terms of culture and another world view. In NZ, Maori is also an important part of our heritage.

  8. #7

    Default

    My husband is Puerto Rican (born/raised in mainland US, but he was taught the language growing up). I try to get him to throw in some Spanish when he thinks of it. We also have a couple kids books in Spanish which helps.
    TheHomeschoolHouse.com - My Little Place on the Web

  9. #8
    Senior Member Enlightened
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    Default

    I love this topic! I am raising bilingual children, so I chose that option. However, that DOES NOT mean that there is no need for formal instruction. My goal for my children is near-native fluency and literacy, and that takes a lot of effort.

    I also learned several languages during my childhood, with varying degrees of success. In my experience, it takes starting young, immersion, and maintenance. My opinion is that if bilingual immersion is not an option, then it seems fine to wait until the child is literate to begin teaching a language. I found it easier to refresh a language that I studied formally after I could read than a language I learned by immersion as a preschooler.

    My first language was German. When I was preschool-age, we lived in France and I learned French through immersion in daycare. My French skills quickly surpassed my parents', who spoke German at home and mostly associated with other Germans. When I reached school-age, we moved back to Germany and no effort was made to keep up my French skills, so I forgot it. Around 4th grade, my parents sent me to private English lessons and in 5th grade, we started English in school. At the beginning of 6th grade, we moved to the US. So, then I continued learning English through immersion. I was still young enough so that I don't have an accent in English.

    My formal language education started in 7th grade when we could pick a semester of foreign language. I picked French, but the teacher was terrible. She would make me pronounce stuff for her, because my German accent made me pronounce words more correctly than she could. The following year, I took Spanish and continued that language through AP Spanish. The quality of the Spanish teachers varied. One year, I had a native speaker; the following year, the teacher spoke Spanglish the entire time. I still remember a good bit of Spanish, though, and I do occasional maintenance with Duolingo.

    My German took a serious hit during those years. My only exposure was from my parents speaking German at home, but they did not make any effort to teach us anything and after a couple of years, my sister and I responded only in English. It wasn't until years later, when I started thinking about possibly raising bilingual kids, that I made an effort to get back into German.
    Second year homeschooling DS - 11, pre-pre-schooling DD - 2
    Blog: Secular Home Education

  10. #9
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
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    Default

    We are studying Latin for it's application to several languages. I don't plan on them becoming fluent speakers. We just started this year.

    I speak some Spanish (I had to speak a fair amount as a nurse) and my father speaks Spanish, but, I don't consider myself a fluent speaker by any means. My plan is to start a formal study of Spanish as the kids get older. However, I have started teaching them letter sounds and some common phrases, because ideally, I don't want them to have an accent.
    Last edited by RTB; 10-12-2016 at 10:32 PM. Reason: thoughts
    Rebecca
    DS 12, DD 10
    Year 6

  11. #10

    Default

    I know this is an old post, but in Ontario, Canada, Core french is a required subject at all schools. Since my son attended grades 1-8 at elementary school, he received between 2 and 2 and a half hours of Core French every week from a fluent French speaker for 8 years (grades 1-8). He still has to do one more year of Core french for Grade 9 before he can finally drop his language classes, but one year of Grade 9 french is required for a High School diploma here in Ontario. I don't know how good he is as I have never heard him speak or read any french.

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Elementary-Aged foreign language experiences