Foreign Languages In Your Homeschool

 

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!

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

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16 thoughts on “Foreign Languages In Your Homeschool

  1. For younger kids I love the Teach Me Tapes (now they use cd’s) series and it covers german, french, spanish and more. I use the cd and booklet myself to learn the songs- it gives you an English & foreign language version, so in circle time I teach the English version, then once that is mastered the Foreign Language version.

  2. We are starting French this year with my Grade 3 daughter. I have no idea how to go about it! I have just high school level French, but my partner knows the language well and lived in France for 1 1/2 years, so I’m hoping her expertise can make up for the fact that we have no “native” French speakers to draw on. I’d welcome any suggestions!

    • Suzanne, Have you checked Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore or Bob and Nancy’s bookshop to see what they offer in French? Also, I believe on one of the back posts I mentioned my Canadian and bilingual friend Catherine chimed in in the comment section about french resources…you may want to check out her blog as well: http://catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com/

      I think she has written some back posts on resources for Waldorf homeschoolers in French.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  3. Well…languages are not a strong point for British people – I was badly taught French and German at school, and am teaching French to my two children – basically through songs, games and some dvd/cd/work book packs for my 8yo. We incorporporate some of this in circle time, and some is just a secondary lesson in French in every third block, and sometimes we just speak french for a giggle. Far from ideal? Yes, but it is the best I can do – French is the modern foreign language I have most familiarity and comfort with, and we have french ancestors. My aim is to build confidence and a willingness to give languages a go by “sampling” other languages and probably ultimately trying to add in some spanish or german at some point – and I expect in their teens that I will take the kids along to some evening classes.

  4. Hi Carrie – I’ve been following you for ~ 1yr now, but haven’t commented in awhile. My son is only 2 1/2 and your posts have helped immensely with getting us into a slow easy rhythm (he does not like to transition!) Anyway, I’ve been gathering info re: homeschooling because it’s something I’m intrigued by & would really like to do. I haven’t read the other posts you linked to, but I gather from this post that you (and Waldorf schools) reccommend introducing a new language ~5-6 yrs? What about sooner in the home? I’ve been re-learning Spanish in order to help my son pick it up. He is not interested in reading Spanish picture books & doesn’t respond to the words I use, though I haven’t been consistent. I recently gave up, having no idea of what is best. I certainly don’t want to confuse him, though he is really verbal and loves reading and singing (in English.) Many thanks and blessings to you…

    • Brandy,
      Do you do any sort of singing? You could always learn a song or two in Spanish and sing to him, especially if you had little props or actions so he would know what you were singing about. :)
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Thank you Carrie! Yes, I agree that songs with movement would be key. He’s already obsessed with the Little Teapot song and Itsy Bitsy Spider. And he’s been trying to sing “Are You Sleeping Brother John?” in French because he has a toddler CD with this version. I have NO IDEA how to pronounce French, but maybe we’ll look into both Spanish and French children’s songs since he’s attracted to it. More lessons for Momma!

  5. We live in Canada so French will be one language that we will be learning. I also plan to teach my children ASL (American Sign Language) as we have been using it since birth as an amazing way to communicate. There are lots of resources, classes and such in our area for both of these languages. I think part of the key is to make it a natural part of your life and not a completely separate thing.

  6. If you are near a Russian Orthodox or OCA (Orthodox Church in America) church, you are likely to find a Russian speaker who’s willing to tutor your daughter. You are also likely to find a Waldorf-minded home educator. Good luck! And thank you for this oh-so-helpful website.

  7. Could someone who has access to Facebook list the Spanish resources Carrie mentions above? For those of us not on Facebook?

    Many thanks!

  8. My aunt had a couple great suggestions for foreign language in the home. She suggested contacting the local university to “adopt” an international student and have them over for dinner, holidays, etc. There is usually an international student office or student organization. She also recommended hiring a native speaker to help with housework or kids a couple hours a week so that you (as the adult) can converse and interact with the native speaker, improving one’s own language skills and exposing your children to true conversational language. These people can be found through the university or through a local international club, meetup, dance or culture group.

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