Today’s post is a guest post from Adriana Zoder of HomeschoolWays.Com.
Adriana has the wonderful experience of being able to raise her children speaking three languages. I would love for my children to be trilingual, but at this point, I’m still going to be thrilled if my kids can simply communicate in their mother tongue without much issue.
Ideally, in the end, my kids would be at least fluent in two languages, but three would be more than perfect. Keep reading to hear how Adriana is raising trilingual kids, and homeschooling all at the same time!
Three Languages, One Homeschool
Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed words, in my mother tongue or in another language. Learning a foreign language came easy to me – a lot easier than understanding physics, for instance. Growing up in Europe, Romania to be precise, I was surrounded by many bilingual and trilingual people. It was the right kind of peer pressure.
It’s geography, really. Some European countries are so small, you cross them from east to west in a couple of hours. Then you find yourself in a totally different culture, immersed in a totally different language. So the pressure is on and, frankly, if you seek opportunities, you know that you have to acquire at least another language in order to be marketable.
Once I got a job in a country where I did not speak the language (Sweden). How? I spoke French. This Swedish company with offices in Stockholm had French-speaking customers in Belgium. Their customer service department needed French-speaking account executives. Enter me! That experience taught me that if I ever had children I would need to give them at least the three languages that I am fluent in (Romanian, French and English) so that they can always have marketable skills.
Fast forward 10 years, a marriage and two children. By the way, I married an American and we live in the US. God called me to homeschool my children. Time and languages were the main reasons. If I sent them to school here in the United States, they would spend more than seven hours every day interacting in English. Already the majority language, English would engulf any other language I may try to pass on to them.
So homeschool we did. We started officially in 2013, when our oldest entered Kindergarten. However, I have been schooling them in Romanian since birth simply by speaking to them in Romanian. For the first three years of their lives, I read to them in Romanian. English picture books have short sentences and it’s easy to translate as I go.
My children understand everything I say, but they respond in English. It is normal. As they get older and more confident, they will be able to choose to express themselves in Romanian. It will help if I took them to Romania for a month or so – something I plan to do sooner than later.
About a year ago, I got really intentional about French. We grabbed some French books from Schoenhof’s, music, youtube videos and a curriculum. Voilà! French! In the beginning I introduced French for a few minutes a day. Then, I decided we will speak French in the afternoon.
So while we do school in the morning it’s mostly in Romanian and English. Our lessons are short and sweet. After all, my son is in first grade and my daughter is in pre-kindergarten. It’s easy to read the instructions in Romanian and then in English. Even though most curriculum we use is in English, I simply translate what they need to do in Romanian. If they don’t get it, that’s a learning opportunity. I repeat the new word several times.
We are done with school by afternoon, so the French interaction is more while doing things around the house or running errands around town. I am surprised how much vocabulary we use in even one hour of interacting as a family.
Recently, I discovered a free app for learning languages including French – DuoLingo. I am using it for the kids and for me. I love to polish my skills. With a language, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Even if you don’t speak a foreign language, you can give your children the gift of languages with this and other curricula which give you even pronunciation lessons. You should plan 30 minutes twice a week for a foreign language and work to an hour twice a week, depending on their age and interest level. Consistency is the key though. You can’t just drop it after a few sessions. Steady effort is the secret to language learning. And now that they even have free apps for us to learn another language, we have no more excuses, right?
Adriana Zoder is a homeschooling mom of two, living in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. She has published two books on Amazon, 101 Tips for Preschool at Home and 101 Tips for Kindergarten at Home. Get Adriana’s free ebook 21 Days to Jumpstart Your Homeschool at her award-winning blog, www.HomeschoolWays.com.
If you’re looking for resources for teaching your children other languages at home, check out these useful posts: