On Foreign Languages


If you've ever searched reviews of a foreign language curriculum you may have noticed that the most positive reviews are almost always written by people who have been using the curriculum for less than a year.

I've been homeschooling since before the internet was useful.  I've watched foreign language programs come in a blaze of glory and then disappear.  Rarely do you see truly critical reviews.  Even rarer do you hear about programs that worked (in a quantifiable way) long term.

In my opinion and experience sending a child to a tutorial to fulfill a high school foreign language requirement will do just that, and no more.  Buying a curriculum and having a child complete it... ditto.  And that's o.k.  It depends on your goals and your child's goals.  As well as inherent strengths.  After all, I'm completely comfortable with wanting my children to fulfill their math requirements merely so they can score well on the SAT's.

However, I want my children to be able to converse with native speakers.  I'm discovering that means I have to learn with my children so we can practice/converse at home.  I have to search out opportunities for my children to be immersed in the language they are learning.  It requires learning grammar.

Rats.  That's a lot of work.

Most of the curriculum out there wants to be fun and colorful.  They want you to learn "organically."  It's a sales pitch.  Rosetta Stone and their imitators especially irritate me.  Think about it:  A child learns a language organically by being immersed in it for about 6 years- and then they still have to be taught correct grammar and spelling and writing in school. Plenty of children need speech therapy for their native language.  Give me a break- a computer program (even an over-priced one) can't do that in 30 minutes to an hour a day.

The only short-cut is hard work.


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