I have written about foreign languages in the Waldorf-inspired homeschool before here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/17/teaching-a-foreign-language-in-waldorf-homeschool/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/24/learning-a-foreign-language-in-your-waldorf-homeschool/
As mentioned in these posts, most Waldorf Schools teach two languages from Kindergarten onwards and these two languages are typically ones that are from different poles: A Romance language and a language of Germanic or Slavik origin, for example. In my own homeschool, we are learning Spanish and German. My oldest daughter has plans to branch out into Russian. You could bring in whatever language you have knowledge of, or of whatever languages you have in your surrounding area. It is important to consider what languages are being spoken in your own geographic location, because tapes, recordings and such as not the approach in a Waldorf School, but immersion through a native speaker is the norm. And the approach of the language is not just to learn the language, but to celebrate and immerse oneself in another culture. For example, a Waldorf School Spanish teacher may come to school in native dress and do cooking and dance and festival celebrations along with the beginnings of the basic themes in Spanish for the early grades.
Some of my favorite resources for small children in Spanish, available through Amazon, are posted on the Facebook page of The Parenting Passageway here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheParentingPassageway. Another book I use frequently is “Senderos”, available through Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore: http://www.steinercollege.edu/store/product.php?productid=16373&cat=0&page=1 What I find especially helpful in this book is the list of books and stories by grade in the back of the book and the examples of how to teach for each grade. It has extensive Spanish in it, so if you cannot read Spanish, this book may not be as helpful as you would like. (I see that it ends up on the used Waldorf book lists a lot and I think it might be because either folks don’t know what to do with it or maybe they think it provides comprehensive lessons, which it does not. This might be one to try to look at ahead of time before you buy if you have other Waldorf homeschoolers in your area). Many of the books suggested by grade in “Senderos”, I have found used on Amazon, and they provide a great springboard for Spanish studies, especially for my fifth grader who is working at a middle school level in Spanish.
I found German to be harder, simply because I don’t know any German (!!), but I was fortunate to find a Saturday German School in our area and also a very dear friend who is a native speaker from Austria who became the tutor for our children. This year my youngest will also be taking German in the classes for our homeschooling group, which is a group that seeks to unite homeschooling parents in our area who try to educate according to the tenets set forth by Rudolf Steiner in education. (And PS, we have a smashing, busy, full homeschooling group – why is it that Atlanta never comes up on those lists of where to move when folks ask this question on the big national Waldorf Yahoo Groups? Atlanta and the surrounding metro areas is not a bad place to live! But I digress…guess that is a post for another time!)
I have had folks writing to me and asking for resources, preferably books with rhymes and songs that may also have a CD so they can learn the song themselves to teach their children….So, I am asking all my readers: What languages are you teaching? What resources do you use? How do you bring in native culture – dress, festivals, dances, games – into your homeschool? I have readers especially searching for resources in Russian and Chinese that could be tailored to Waldorf methodology. If you know of any of these resources, please leave a comment in the comment box.
My readers are a big and diverse bunch, so I would love to hear from you in the comment box!