Learning a Foreign Language in Your Waldorf Homeschool

I found this lovely post on the Syrendell blog here regarding teaching foreign language in their homeschool:  http://syrendell.blogspot.com/search/label/foreign%20language

What a beautiful blog!  Such gorgeous handwork!

At any rate, I wrote a post awhile back regarding foreign language within the Waldorf homeschool here:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/17/teaching-a-foreign-language-in-waldorf-homeschool/

Part of that post mentions the typical way foreign languages are approached within a Waldorf school:

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.”

In our homeschool, we do Spanish and German.  I admit I am fortunate in several ways in this regard:  we have many neighbors and friends that speak in these two languages that my daughter gets to spend time with, I speak Spanish in a moderately fluent way and can read and write in Spanish, and we live in a major metropolitan area so my oldest daughter  now attends a Saturday morning  German school and also  has a Spanish tutor and a German tutor.  We are also fortunate that our extended family considers languages to be important and are willing to help us with some of  the expenses for this.    My youngest daughter (age 5) just recently gave signs she is interested in Spanish and is trying to speak, so I am reading to her in Spanish and she will start German school as well next fall. 

These are the few tips I can offer for teaching a foreign language the Waldorf way in your homeschool:

1.  If you know the basics of any language, that is enough to get started.  Waldorf teaches through an immersion method, but even if you know a little, you may be able to bring in songs, verses, colors, numbers, weather, names of articles of clothing in the target language via puppetry, drawings on your blackboard and other props.  One source I like for a few rhymes in Spanish are these:


and this one:  http://www.amazon.com/Bilingual-Rhymes-Songs-Stories-Fingerplays/dp/0876592841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261626341&sr=1-1

A Waldorf resource is Cante, Cante, Elefante:  http://www.naturallyyoucansing.com/books/cante.htm

I don’t have sources like these for German (other than music); many of the verses and songs I am getting are through our school or tutor who are all native speakers.  When the children are old enough to write,( my daughter is in Second Grade), they still play a lot of games and do a lot of singing, but they also have a workbook to follow up with at home.  Her second grade is using  a festival and song book from Hueber and the workbook is from Hueber as well.  This is the website listed on the back cover:  www.hueber.de

2.  Think about what you can offer that affect all the senses in your foreign language teaching.  Can you offer props that involve the whole body, how many of the twelve senses can you include?

3.  Work seasonally.  Many of us are coming up to a cold month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  Can you work in songs or verses  regarding snow, snowmen, tea time, animals in Winter,  the color white for snow?  Can you use a puppet that would be cold in the snow?  Bbrrrr.

4.  Realize that Waldorf schools  work orally for quite some time before introducing writing and reading in the target language.  Look for the nursery rhymes of that culture, the festivals where you can bake and craft and involve that holiday and culture and language.

5. Realize that true fluency takes repetition and time.  It can take a good five to six years or more for a child to build up true fluency if they are not speaking the language every day.  I expect my children will be fluent in German eventually, but I also know it will take longer than her classmates who are speaking German at home.  Our oldest is doing an excellent job!

Hope this stimulates some ideas for you. 

In the post I wrote earlier this year, I mention the benefits of having any foreign language.  Many people want to do Spanish because it is so functional here in the US, but any language will provide benefits for the brain and compassion for the heart to learn about another culture.  Consider seeing if there is a church in your town that offers services in another language; that might give you a place to start finding native speakers (even if it is not Spanish!)

Hope these ideas are helpful,


6 thoughts on “Learning a Foreign Language in Your Waldorf Homeschool

  1. These ideas are definitely helpful! Thank you for linking to our blog. We are realizing that the traditional way in which we were taught a foreign language in school just didn’t work very well. We were taught too late, and there was so much reading and writing. The Waldorf approach makes more sense, and the kids really love it! Thanks for the tips, Carrie. 🙂

  2. Do you have a perspective on how much time they should spend per week in a foreign language lesson? In school, my daughter currently gets 2 hours of Mandarin and 1 hour of Spanish. We are considering home schooling next year and I would like to add an additional hour of Spanish. Unfortunately, I speak neither so I have to rely on tutors.

  3. One of the problems I have had with tutors (apart from the costs) is they often don’t understand the Waldorf method and are uninterested in learning about it. It makes it very difficult. We have had French tutors in the past – our first one was lovely. She did songs, rhymes and games and kept talking in simple French. We had another one who was not so great and would not listen as to what was wanted – she got extremely complicated and took any joy and wonder out of learning French. Then our third and final tutor was amazing but we lost her to a private school. She would work with a small group of children and set up a cafe with croissants and cocoa – some of the children were the serving team and others were customers. The children would place orders and eat and drink. Then they would swap over. It was great fun and developed so many skills.

    I would say if you get a tutor ensure that they are interested to learn the immersion approach.

  4. Pingback: Foreign Languages In Your Homeschool | The Parenting Passageway

  5. Could you tell us what the festival and song book and workbook are that your daughter is using from Hueber? I looked at their website but they offer so, so many books. Titles would be really helpful! Thanks for this wonderful article!

    • Patricia,
      I am guessing due to the date of this post, it was perhaps in the regular second grade materials….these materials came through Germany from a German tutor and also through German School on Saturday mornings, so I am not wholly positive but I would start there on the website.
      Hope that helps,

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