When people think of unschooling Spanish, French, or another language, I think many turn to foreign language immersion as their first idea.
What could be more natural than learning a second language the way you learned your first language, right?
The problem is, unless you speak another language, it can be hard to find immersive experiences for your child.
So, how do you incorporate Spanish immersion, French immersion, or any other dual language immersion into unschooling?
First, Plan for the Future When Thinking About Foreign Language Immersion
Maybe you want to wait until the kids are older for full language immersion?
Think about a plan for foreign language immersion long-term because you might want to delay large-scale immersion.
You can give your kids bigger immersive experiences someday when they are ready to benefit from them the most.
Scholarships for Foreign Language Immersion
For some languages, you might even get scholarships to pay for the cost of studying abroad in college. “The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.”
If your child gets chosen to receive such a scholarship, the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs pays for your child’s overseas study.
And, it gets better!
There are actually at least five scholarship programs that revolve around studying a foreign language abroad.
If you take time now to naturally unschool foreign language and plan some small-scale language immersive experiences, your child will be in a better position to benefit from long-term immersion programs.
Remember, Language Immersion Isn’t a Magic Key to Foreign Language
Those scholarship programs are great, but they make you wait until your child is college aged to get language immersion.
So, what about language immersion for your younger child now?
I’m telling you that it’s ok to stop searching for the best foreign language curriculum, because you can get far with unschooling if you plan things right.
However, I’m not telling you that language immersion alone will solve all your foreign language teaching needs.
There are so many aspects to learning a foreign language, and language immersion can sometimes be sadly ineffective.
If you are a proficient speaker of a second language, or you can afford a stable bilingual caregiver, you can provide an immersive experience for your child all on your own.
Parents who have that opportunity use various methods to provide a bilingual environment for their child. The most common method is probably One Person One Language, but some parents choose to spend a certain number of hours each day using the second language.
Most Americans do not speak a second language, and cannot afford a bilingual full-time caregiver, either.
So, what about immersion for our young children? How do we provide that in an effective way?
Throwing a child into an immersive environment is not automatically going to result in progress.
Unfortunately, too much language immersion in the wrong context can be slow and frustrating. And, what’s worse is that an uninterested child can quickly tune out the sounds of a foreign language.
When you don’t speak any language other than English, you can spend a lot of money chasing after immersion and still not get results that make you happy.
But, all is not lost!
There are still ways to successfully include foreign language immersion in your homeschool journey!
Immersive experiences are an important part of foreign language acquisition and there are things you can do to make them more effective.
Give immersive experiences to your children in small increments.
As soon as they start to tune out, or before, stop the immersive experience (or at the least the immersive part of the experience).
Create your bilingual environment piece by piece, little by little, and increase your child’s internal motivation.
The more your child wants to understand what’s going on in that TV show, book, or song, the more your child is going to pay attention, and the more she’ll learn.
Start today with your child’s favorite interests.
If your child loves music and wants to learn Spanish, then start trying songs in Spanish until you find a favorite. It will be natural to listen to it over and over.
Print out the lyrics, and if your child is able to copy the lyrics that’s a fantastic natural extension of the activity.
If your child loves Minecraft, then find some Minecraft servers in Spanish, or with Spanish speakers.
You can find more ideas for immersion in Spanish or other languages in Unschooling Foreign Language: Getting Started Unschooling Foreign Language.
What can you do tomorrow to give your child some unschool language immersion in Spanish or another foreign language?
Lisa Yankey is a regular contributing writer for HomeschoolSuperFreak.com and the author of “The Homeschool Path to Foreign Language.” You can find her at www.highenergyhomeschool.com, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on YouTube.