Teaching Multiple Foreign Languages // Minimalist Homeschooling

I promised that I would do a short post on how we handle foreign languages in our minimalist homeschool. I do find great value in children learning a foreign language. Actually many languages is our goal. I learned many languages when I was little. 

I still remember much of the Sign Language and some Japanese I was taught when I was five years old. Growing up muslim, I was also taught Arabic, Urdu and Punjabi at the same time I was learning French & American Sign Language. 

Something amazing happens in the brain of a child when they start learning languages at a young age. It is because of that, and my own experience, we want to start them early and with a wide variety.

How do we do this without feeling overwhelmed? Easy, we read and we speak. We approach language learning the very same way we all learned our native language. For us that is English. When you are a baby getting ready to say your first words, typically, you parent wouldn't then pull out a hefty textbook and start cramming conjugated verbs into your face.

We start with labeling our world, our environment, family members and body parts. Also feelings and small phrases. I love hearing Everett tell me, "Dîner c'est très bon!" to which Lorelai will quickly add, "Et c'est magnifique!" Those are the kind of compliments a mom wants to hear after making supper for her family!

They learned the phrases because they wanted to know how to say those specific things, I remembered most of it from french classes as a kid...the rest we just look up on an online translator. I also use this to double check my aging memory...just to be sure on the pronunciation.

If you're looking for the Hawaiian Alphabet, here is a FREE book download : Hawaiian Alphabet Book. 

We then will read books all in the new language. So books like Green Eggs & Ham, Madeline, Am I Small?, Teach Me to Pray in Hawaiian, Hawaiian Mother Goose, and labeling books like Keiki's First Word Book, & French-English Picture Dictionary.

Right now, we are using French daily in our speech, so we don't use as many books for it anymore. We are learning Hawaiian [I'm quarter Hawaiian] and are using books and speaking words or phrases. We also use the sign language my kids learned from the Netflix show, Signing Time. My kids loved that show actually.

I also taught the kids some of the sign language I know. When I was in Kindergarten in Georgia [back in 1990] before school started each day, the whole school met in the gymnasium. We all spent about 20 minutes learning sign language. It was just a regular public school, but there were some deaf kids there. This helped us all communicate together. It was awesome! And I still remember what I learned!

There is truly something to be said of kids' minds being sponges for knowledge. They absorb new languages quickly. Quicker than adults. Don't be afraid they will get all confused by adding in several languages.

Don't be overwhelmed with buying curriculum. Learn a couple new phrases per week. Quick simple phrases that you use daily. Everett was always asking where is sister was, so I taught him "Où est ma soeur?" = "Where is my sister?" I respond in French, "Pas ici!" Which means : Not here! haha! Then direct him outside.

Simple stuff like that really helps to integrate it all naturally. This keeps it from feeling forced and my children learn more organically and retain it best. Better than the traditional methods we had tried before.

We also have the English from the Roots Up Vol. 1 Flashcards. We will be using them more when we study ancient history next year, and I'll post more about that next summer when I write up our plans for that school year. Next year's focus will be Greek, Latin & Hebrew while we keep using the three languages we are working on now. 

What language or languages are you and/or your children learning? What are your struggles? Leave comments and questions below and I'll see if I can help you out! Mahalo!

Aloha, Jane

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