Falling in Love with Languages

Last blog entry, I discussed the importance of learning a second language. But, that’s the easy part, isn’t it. Most of us understand that multi-lingual skills can be useful in our lives and careers. But how do we get our youngsters to embrace the idea?

Well, our kids our currently learning Spanish. Here’s what we’ve been doing lately, and it seems to be working.

Self-Motivated Learning: For the most part, our girls decided they wanted to learn Spanish. Self-directed learning is an ideal situation. If the child actually wants to learn something, then you (the homeschool parent) are no longer a task-master, howevering over their shoulder while they struggle through home work. You become a facilitator, someone who helps guide them along a path that they WANT to take!

Language Software: There’s lot of great and affordable programs available for Windows and Mac users. Currently, programs such as Rosetta Stone are very popular (and easy to use). However, the latest software can be very pricey, and not necessarily kid-friendly. If you have kids under 10 years, I suggest checking on Ebay — they usually have used software (and lots of Spanish stuff) for very low prices.

Library Books and Video: Since we live in Southern California, our libraries cater to both English and Spanish speakers. My girls have been checking out Spanish language Picture books. Also, many of the libraries videos have been dubbed over n Spanish, or have subtitles. Recently, the girls have watched Tinkerbell and Free Willy, entirely in Spanish.

Flashcards: Yes, good old fashioned flash cards. Fortunately, my girls are good-naturedly competitive, so the like working on the flash cards at the same time. Rote memorization isn’t always fun, but it’s an important part when learning the fundamentals of a new language.

Interact with Native Speakers: It certainly depends on where you live and which language your kids are learning, but if you can, get out and meet people who speak the language your family is learning. We live a couple miles away from a Market in which all of the signage is written in Spanish, and most (if not all) of the employees speak fluent Spanish. The employees are friendly, and they appreciate the fact that the girls are anxious to learn.