In most Waldorf schools, two languages are started in Kindergarten. Many times the two languages taught are languages that are in linguistic opposition so to speak, for example, a Romance Language and a Germanic language other than English, or a Romance Language and a Slavic Language.
This is a link that discusses the cognitive and academic benefits to learning a foreign language:
This talks directly about that memory storage theory (and debunks it). It also looks at current research, including the fact that kids who know a foreign language score higher in the SAT’s, typically do better in mathematics. actually have (good) changes in the grey matter of the brain and that people who know foreign languages may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s…
Interesting stuff with lots of links to research.
In our family, many of our friends are European and all of them speak 3 or 4 languages – Dutch, Greek, French, German, English. We also have many friends who speak Spanish and English. Languages are important in our family, I guess because of all of our family friends and because my husband has lived all over the world when he was growing up – Korea, Germany. He is still pretty much is open to moving anywhere in the world.
I do speak Spanish, not like a native, but enough to communicate, read, negotiate services I need, talk to my patients and friends…not fluent, but probably a high medium kind of speaker. However, we still have a Spanish tutor for our children. The tutor is a completely native speaker and fluent. This is very important because while I can read to my children in Spanish and such, there are so many of the idioms and sayings that I just plain miss because I am not a native speaker.
Sometimes if there is a homeschooling group of ANY kind in your area, those mothers may have connections to either teachers who will tutor homeschoolers. One other place to look is to see what is the immigrant population or heritage of the people in the town you live in is….Swedish?
Italian? German? Perhaps there is someone within your community who would be willing to teach your child songs, verses or tell stories within any foreign language. Is there a church in your town which holds services in another language? That also gives you a clue as to what foreign languages you may be able to connect into where you live.
Sometimes if there is a large enough group of people in one place who speak a certain language, they may start a language/cultural center. In my town, which is large, there is a Chinese school, a Japanese school, a Dutch school, a Swedish school, a Finnish playgroup, lots of opportunities for Spanish, at least for the pre-kindy crowd, a French school, a Russian school and a German school. There probably are even more populations and schools than even I am aware of at this point. Even if you do not want your child to attend the school, it may be a place to start to see if anyone can tutor. Talk to the potential tutor ahead of time, and explain your curriculum so they understand if they need to bring songs and verses and stories with props or
what…Waldorf may be new to them!
Spanish is obviously a functional language in our country (USA) but
learning ANY language helps activate that part of the brain, leads to
greater cultural awareness and can spark interest in other
languages. My oldest daughter is very aware of people
speaking other languages and now she listens and wants to know what
language they speak and if she can learn that one as well!
Tutors may not be as unaffordable as you think; and I also know moms
who have worked out trades for tutoring. I also know moms who
instead of or as a holiday gift asked family members to cover
tutoring for them for a month or a certain number of months.
Typically the after school or Saturday language schools are not that
expensive for the whole year (comparatively).
The other thing to consider is while sometimes one language sounds
daunting enough, learning two languages that are rather opposite is
really great. My oldest is learning Spanish and German and they
really are nice complements – a Romance Language and a Germanic
language and I feel it will be easy for her to slide into other
Romance languages and even into the Slovak languages.
There are many wonderful languages – African languages, Romance
languages, Germanic languages…..Sometimes I think we get stuck on
Spanish (which that would be nice to learn because of the
functionality), but there may be resources for something else in your
area as well. Keep an open mind and see what you can find – you may be able to find for your child not only a person who can provide your child with the wonderful gift of multiple languages, but also with the great cultural awareness that we are all global neighbors.
Yours until next time,