Thinking about adding learning a foreign language to your homeschooling? Great news! You don’t need a language immersion school for your kids to learn homeschool foreign language
. . .even if you unschool!
You can unschool Spanish, French, Chinese, or any foreign language your child is interested in learning.
Yes, you really can unschool foreign language.
Sometimes the best language curriculum is no language curriculum.
Does that sound crazy?
So, how does an unschooling family learn new languages?
About Learning a Foreign Language While Unschooling
How is learning a foreign language possible without a sequential curriculum?
It’s commonly assumed that parents have a choice between either the grammar-based workbook style or computer-based immersion style.
Sadly, what’s commonly done doesn’t have a good track record for successfully learning to speak a foreign language.
And, guess what?
You already know something about learning to speak a language:
You didn’t learn to speak your first language by using a curriculum.
Don’t rush off thinking that the best way to learning a foreign language is the same way you learned your first.
The answer isn’t that simple.
READ THIS NEXT :
For those of you who are unschooling, or thinking about unschooling a foreign language, it’s important to be aware that many people learn a second language without using a curriculum.
For example, I have relatives who learned English simply by watching English TV with subtitles turned on in their native language.
Of course, homeschoolers who unschool can use curriculum if they’d like to use one, but the point is that you don’t have to do it.
[READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW]
Let’s be honest, you’ll probably want to outsource foreign language lessons and/or start a foreign language curriculum at some point (especially if you don’t speak a second language), but what you do on your own in an unschool fashion is just as important, if not more so.
Does thinking about how to teach your child multiple languages seem intimidating?
While people can learn a foreign language without lessons or curriculum, there are things you can do to make foreign language learning more efficient.
ENTER: Foreign Language Immersion While Homeschool Unschooling
What is Foreign Language Immersion?
Foreign language immersion is when you “immerse” or deeply involve a student in learning a second language by using it throughout the day over a course of subjects or topics. Some people believe that foreign language immersion is one of the fastest ways to learn a second language.
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, HERE’S WHY YOU MIGHT WANT TO HOLD OFF ON FULL LANGUAGE IMMERSION FOR YOUR UNSCHOOLING KIDS
(. . . at least at 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 and start learning another language in a less intimidating way?
[MORE ON THAT LATER IN THE POST, SO BE SURE TO KEEP READING!]
Think about a plan for foreign language immersion as 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.
There Are Scholarships for Foreign Language Immersion
Here’s another good reason to wait until later for full 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 Homeschool Foreign Language
Those scholarship programs are great, but they make you wait until your homeschool child is college aged to get language immersion.
So, what can we do right now?
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 right now.
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, where you consistently speak one of the two languages to your child.
Other parents choose to spend a certain, set 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, now what?
What about language immersion for your unschooling kids now?
I’m telling you that it’s OK to stop searching for the best foreign language curriculum, because you can get far with foreign language unschooling if you plan things right.
[READ ON TO LEARN HOW!]
What NOT To Do with Homeschool Foreign Language Immersion
First, be careful because 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 time (and maybe 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!
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4 FUN & Easy Ways to Start Homeschool Foreign Language Immersion RIGHT NOW
1. 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).
2. 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.
3. Use music to learn another language.
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.
4. Start homeschool foreign language learning today with your child’s favorite interests.
If your child loves Minecraft, then find some Minecraft servers in Spanish, or with Spanish speakers.
Or, maybe your child loves My Little Pony?
Find some books, online stories, or shows for My Little Pony in other languages!
You can find resources for almost any language to cover your child’s interests.
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19 Resources for Unschooling Homeschool Foreign Language
• Use Foreign Language for Kids Worksheets
I know that many unschoolers really don’t like worksheets or workbooks, but when starting homeschool foreign language, they can be really helpful.
Check out these learning a foreign language worksheets to help you think through the process of planning your foreign language unschooling.
The first worksheet guides you through the thought process about when to start teaching a foreign language.
Keep in mind there are different advantages and disadvantages to starting early vs. delaying teaching foreign language until adolescence.
Another great worksheet for unschoolers is the Bilingual Environment worksheet.
Once you start creating a bilingual environment in your home, you’re going to be able to “salt the environment” with material that gets your child naturally curious about learning a foreign language.
This is how you increase your child’s intrinsic motivation by exposing her mind to TV, books, games, songs, travel material, and people who speak a foreign language.
• Get Creative with Children’s Language Programs / Shows
Do you have tween/teen girl who loves to braid hair?
Why not learn about hair braiding in Spanish?
Maybe your kids like cooking?
Why not watch cooking shows in Chinese?
It doesn’t have to be focused on learning a skill, either, it’s ok to watch Peppa Pig in Chinese.
• Ask Your Kids About Learning A Foreign Language
Give your kids the ability to choose the foreign language they want to learn.
If they choose Spanish classes for kids, you’ll see resources broken down by type.
(Or, you can go right to the Cross-Curricular Subjects list.)
These lists will help you find ideas for how to unschool your child in a foreign language at home.
And, most of these resources will start teaching your child a foreign language for FREE.
• Expand Children’s Interests in Learning a Foreign Language by Adding Fun Activities
Once you and your child choose a foreign language, you can start to think about what kinds of activities your child might enjoy while learning a foreign language.
This characteristics of good foreign language lessons worksheet provides great ideas for companion activities.
• Encourage your child to show off what they learned in the foreign language.
If your child watches an episode of Peppa Pig (or several ahem), your child can draw Peppa Pig and then also make a cartoon story to go with it.
• Use Google Translate or Amazon Echo/Alexa with the Translated Skill to find out how to say things in a foreign language.
Making mistakes is a natural part of learning a language, so relax and don’t worry about it.
Use Amazon Echo/Alexa to help you say words the correct way!
• Add reading in a foreign language.
Research shows that reading books is very effective for learning new languages and vocabulary.
Eventually, you should add in some reading while learning a foreign language.
But, don’t worry!
There are many foreign language ideas for reading in the supplement lists.
You can start with a parallel reader like Spanish: Short Stories for Beginners.
You can also turn foreign language websites into parallel readers using a website like Readlang.com.
• RECAP: HOMESCHOOL FOREIGN LANGUAGE •
- You can homeschool foreign language, even while unschooling!
- Many people learn a second language without using a the best foreign language curriculum (or, any curriculum).
- Foreign language immersion is when you “immerse” or deeply involve a student in learning a second language by using it throughout the day.
- YOU MIGHT WANT TO HOLD OFF ON FULL LANGUAGE IMMERSION FOR YOUR UNSCHOOLING KIDS UNTIL LATER.
- There are scholarships for foreign language immersion!
- Language immersion isn’t a magic key to homeschool foreign language success, but it is a good tool.
- Be careful because throwing a child into an immersive environment is not automatically going to result in progress and may cause negative effects (like making them hate learning a foreign language).
- Give immersive experiences to your children in small increments.
- Create your bilingual environment piece by piece, little by little, and increase your child’s internal motivation.
- Use tech to help you with pronunciation.
- Use music to learn another language.
- Start homeschool foreign language learning today with your child’s favorite interests.
- Utilize the great (often FREE) resources for unschooling homeschool foreign language found in this post!
If you want to add learning a foreign language to your homeschooling and unschooling, it’s easier than you think and there are many resources so that you don’t have to go it alone!
Are you tackling foreign language learning in your homeschooling or unschooling?
What kinds of things get your child interested in learning a foreign language?
Let’s talk in the comments!