Defining Fluency and Philosophy


Part of the joy/hardship of home schooling is that to a certain extent you decide on the degree of rigorousness you require of your students/children.  Even harder- your philosophy of education decides the actual point of said rigorousness or... lack thereof. 

I don't put a lot of faith in tests.  At 17 I CLEP-tested out of two years of college French.  However, at the time I couldn't have had more than a brief (and atrociously accented) discussion of what I wanted to eat and could have participated in only a basic touristy conversation.  I was merely talented at- 1. reading and 2. guessing- which are two test taking super-powers.

My high school junior is going to be studying German in Vienna for part of her senior year.  She has to take a placement test about a month before she starts class.  It will be interesting to see how she does because she is my German-language-learning guinea pig.  

There are not many home school German curriculum options.  In fact, there is not a single one that I found tolerable.  I tried a few versions of newer German language text books but they tended to be picture heavy, disjointed, grammar light, and didn't provide enough practice.  The Practice Makes Perfect series is great- but only after you've already built a broad vocabulary base.

Instead, I've hobbled together Pimsleur German with an intense little college German textbook (purchased at Goodwill) from the 1960's, some dictionaries, web access to German language news and blogs, German language versions of popular fiction along with matching audio books, and English Grammar for the Student of German.  She's also been emailing a couple of Austrian friends in German.

How I wish someone would create a Pimsleur-ish curriculum that includes a written component and that is less aimed at being a traveler and more aimed at living within a family setting.

Yesterday, I stumbled across an internet argument on what constitutes fluency.  Curious, I goggled the matter:  The Association of Language Testers In Europe had an interesting table.  Given their parameters I certainly didn't deserve any college credit for French! 

Given their parameters, I know where I want my daughter to be by the end of her senior year.  In fact, I know where I want my German to be by the end of my daughter's senior year.  Then, perhaps teaching my younger children German won't be the struggle it's been with my daughter.

Some interesting language links:

All sorts of educational links from a French site.  Just click, "Allemand." has a few German language movies- most of them inappropriate- but there are a few like Hilfe.
Deutsche Welle
How To Learn Any Language

For news:

Don't forget to look on itunes for podcasts.
It's amazing if you goggle, "german language website," how many sites you will find. 


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