Or, people want to know how to learn Spanish or what’s the best Spanish curriculum for elementary age (or a good homeschool curriculum in Spanish), or maybe how to homeschool German, or even where can I find good foreign language classes for my kids?
However, asking those questions about foreign language learning is like asking for the best piano curriculum.
There are so many variations, situations, differentiations, and classifications that it’s impossible to find the perfect solutions to keep you from discontinuations!
Let’s set aside the perfect Spanish curriculum (or any other foreign language learning courses) just for this occasion and find out why curriculum might not be nearly as important as you thought it was.
Instead, think of it this way:
Most people are willing to put the time in to learn an instrument like piano, but why won’t we put the same time in for foreign language learning?
4 Reasons Why Foreign Language Learning Is Like Playing A Piano
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Why Foreign Language Learning Is Like Piano Reason #1: They Both Take Time
It takes a long time to learn to play piano. (Or any musical instrument.)
Some people put in a lot of hours per year, and some don’t – but anyone who is great at playing piano spent a lot of time – you guessed it – playing piano.
It takes a long time to learn a foreign language, too.
Depending on the language you learn, it can take 2000-4000 hours of foreign language learning or more to become proficient!
If you only spend one hour on foreign language for 180 days of school each school year, and you don’t add any environmental activities to bump up those hours in an enjoyable and effective way, it would take you over 11 school years of study just to get in 2000 hours of study.
Were you wondering why you didn’t learn Spanish during those two years in high school Spanish class?
You probably only got an estimated 270-370 hours of Spanish study during those two years.
That’s estimated at about 45 minutes per day of high school Spanish instruction, plus optional study time.
Two years of high school Spanish just isn’t enough – even if your teacher had been the best Spanish teacher ever, you’re not taking 2000 hours of study time and cramming it into 270 hours.
BUT, DON’T LET THIS DETER YOU FROM ADDING FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING TO YOUR HOMESCHOOLING!
It’s awesome to see the kids independently choosing French language activities and it adds in so many extra hours of study!
By adding just one hour of “fun stuff” – like Spanish cartoons – your kids can get an extra 365 hours of Spanish study each year.
Bear with me because we’ll get into some math here:
135 instructional hours per year = 11 years of study to reach 2000 hours.
135 instructional hours per year PLUS 365 “fun stuff” bonus hours = 4 years of study to reach 2000 hours.
Picture this: Two of my kids are old enough to have taken some piano instruction.
My oldest child?
He dutifully does the assigned lesson…when he’s reminded.
My middle child? She’s off and on the piano all.day.long. Yeah, she plays her lessons, but most of what she does on the piano is “fun stuff.”
Guess which kiddo plays better?
Yep, practice pays off.
So, how much time does it take to learn a language?
As much as it takes (just like when learning piano).
But, figure a way to get in 2000 hours if you are really want proficient speakers. (Check out some fun ways to add foreign language requirements in this post.)
Why Foreign Language Learning Is Like Piano Reason #2: You Do Both By Ear
You don’t learn to play piano by studying sheets of music without ever actually hearing music.
And, you don’t learn to speak a foreign language without hearing a lot of it.
If you’re Beethoven you can write music without hearing it, and there are people out there who can write well in a foreign language even though they haven’t spent time listening and speaking it.
I’m not Beethoven.
(And, chances are, neither are you.)
Some people learn to play piano by ear, without formal lessons.
Many people learn a second language “by ear” and without formal lessons.
In fact, learning to speak a language without formal lessons is the norm across the globe.
Most people living on Earth are bilingual.
We are wired to learn language!
This where those fun songs and cartoons (we talked about in #1) come into play!
The more your kids can hear the foreign language, the better chances of learning it.
Why Foreign Language Learning Is Like Piano Reason #3: Lessons Can Make You More Successful
Ok, we can’t all learn by ear.
Most people learn piano by taking lessons from a piano teacher.
Lessons can help a musically talented person hone their ability and become a great musician.
They can take a mediocre talent and make the person competent.
Foreign language lessons can do the same thing for foreign language learning.
There are a lot of options for lessons and curriculum for both music and foreign language.
Both have many great teachers.
However, you can waste a lot of money on lessons for a student who is not ready or who is unenthusiastic or unmotivated.
The same way you support piano lessons at home if you don’t play piano!
(See #1 and #4 on this list, and put in the practice/homework PLUS the “fun stuff” hours!)
Also, not all lessons have to be paid, professional lessons when talking about how to learn Spanish (or how to learn a foreign language on your own).
You can find plenty of free, online resources online!
Even if you don’t speak another language, if one of your children starts to learn a second language, they’ll naturally teach your other kids.
(Check out how these siblings teaching each other Chinese.)
Foreign Language Learning [Video]
Why Foreign Language Learning Is Like Piano Reason #4: You Need to Practice To Get Better
You don’t learn to play the piano well by going to a half hour lesson once every week and neglecting to practice at home.
You get good at piano by putting in the time practicing the instrument, and also by enjoying the music you listen to and play.
Likewise, you get good at a foreign language by doing daily practice, and by enjoying daily life in a foreign language.
Remember these important points about foreign language learning:
- It takes 2000-4000 hours of study to learn a foreign language (but don’t let that deter you!).
- Spending an hour per day, all year, watching a favorite TV show in a foreign language racks up enough extra hours to get you to 2000 study hours in just about 4 years instead of 11!
- Ask, What else can you do at home to learn a language? (And, make it fun!)
- Understand that there are different ways to learn a language.
- And remember, nobody wants to waste their time studying a language!
We all want the best and most efficient way to learn Spanish curriculum for elementary level, or homeschool German, or how to learn a language fast and fluently.
Practicing piano means listening, enjoying, composing, playing, writing, and more.
If you want to get great at playing piano you have to do more than just play through piano curriculum.
It’s the same with foreign learning language.
Don’t ONLY do lessons!
Don’t ONLY do one type of language practice!
Create a bilingual environment in your home and let your kids acquire the language from things they’re interested in.
Get some ideas from these Spanish language resources and add one thing at a time, do what you and your kids love! Use this free bilingual environment worksheet to make a plan.
Also check out:
- Songs or Rhymes
- Audio or Video From Native Speakers
- Conversation With a Native Speaker
- Vocabulary (also see supplements for reading and self-study)
- Spanish Reading
- Spanish Writing
- Fun Spanish Games
- Spanish Crafts
- Spanish Self-Review
- Extra Spanish Fun
- Spanish Grammar
- Spanish Cross-Curricular Subjects and Other Fun Stuff
FREE FOREIGN LANGUAGE RESOURCES [VIDEO]
If you need more help to find and use free foreign language curriculum and resources, try this video:
BOOKS FOR RAISING BILINGUAL KIDS / MULTILINGUAL KIDS
If you want to know more about how to teach your child multiple languages, check out Lisa’s book and also these other great resources: