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How to Teach a Language You Don’t Speak

Are you afraid to teach a language you don't speak?

Thinking about teaching a foreign language in your homeschool?

Introducing your kids to a foreign language is exciting! However, if foreign language study wasn’t part of your own education, it can cause a little anxiety. Is it possible to teach your kids a language that you don’t speak? Here are a few tips to make studying a foreign language in your homeschool enjoyable and successful.

1. Learn the Language With Them

There are many subjects kids can do independently, but learning a foreign language probably isn’t one of them. Depending on your child’s age, there may be an independent component, but the instruction and explanations of lessons should come from a teacher. Whether you study and learn the lessons beforehand, read and work through the lessons together, or use a video lecture from a qualified teacher, you should be involved in the process. This is a great opportunity to gain a new skill, and you may be surprised how much you enjoy learning the language with your kids. If you have older children who can work more independently, you may learn a lot just correcting their work.

2. Immerse Your Family in the Language

It is helpful to find many ways to integrate the new language into your life. Music is widely available online, and there are many genres to choose from in popular languages. Movies from reputable sources can improve fluency and pronunciation while developing cultural awareness. Many museums around the world have wonderful websites that offer virtual galleries that display their collections. Adding labels to common household items can increase exposure to words and their spelling. 

3. Discover Native Speakers in Your Community

There are many clubs and cultural centers that have activities showcasing languages and cultures. Discover events that celebrate the language you’re learning, or connect with someone who speaks it. There may be other homeschool families in your area that you could form a club with or join for an activity. Even if events are infrequent, they can still have a valuable effect on your language study and keep your kids excited to learn. 

4. Don’t Panic!

Teaching a foreign language in your homeschool is not impossible. Although prior knowledge helps, it is not necessary for success. Curriculums designed for homeschoolers help parents who might not know the language. It is important to understand how a foreign language curriculum is designed and how the lessons are delivered. A good curriculum should have tools built in to help parents understand the material so they can be confident teachers and coaches to their children. Previewing sample lessons should give you a good idea if the curriculum is right for you. Once you’ve made your decision, you can join the many other homeschool parents who have successfully taught their children a foreign language and learned a lot themselves!

Author, Jessie Wiegand

 Jessie is a mom of five who has been homeschooling since 2000. She loves serving the homeschool community and has been active as a support group leader and co-op teacher in southeast Michigan for over 15 years. 

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