Homeschool Foreign Language
Wondered how you could go about teaching foreign language in your homeschool? Read on for information to help you get started teaching homeschool foreign language. Learn about communication, culture, connections, comparisons, and more.
Starting Points for Homeschool Foreign Language Curriculum
The Department of Education website of your state is a important stopping point early in your consideration of how to plan your homeschool curriculum. Look for any guidelines or mandates to help you construct your curriculum. You can find your homestate’s department of education at the US Department of Education website here: nces.ed.gov
Some state materials for the teaching of foreign languages can be found at the University of Tennessee at Martin site, here: utm.edu As the introductory paragraph indicates, these links are to different types of materials with different purposes and different levels of consistency with the national standards.
Using the National Standards for Planning Homeschool Foreign Language Curriculum
The national standards for the teaching of foreign language are found on the website of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: actfl.org
There are five standards, relating to the following areas:
all of which have at least two parts.
The standard for communicating in languages other than English has three parts:
Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information,
express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.
Standard 1.2: Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on
a variety of topics.
Standard 1.3: Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of
listeners or readers on a variety of topics.
You can see that the first portion of the standard deals with a variety of types of interpersonal communication. The second portion of the standard focuses on interpreting the language of others. And the third portion has to do with using languages in presentations.
Straight off, it’s easy to see that homeschool foreign language instruction is going to require that your student interact with at least one other person who knows or is learning the language. This may give you some food for thought in how you can conduct the course.
The standard for gaining knowledge of and through other cultures through foreign language study has two parts:
Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between
the practices and perspectives of the culture studied.
Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between
the products and perspectives of the culture studied.
You can see that the first part of the standard has to do with the practices that relate to the culture, while the second part focuses on products of the culture. This suggests that interaction with people who are from a culture in which the foreign language is spoken could be a valuable asset to your homeschool foreign language instruction. Also, access to and use of products from cultures where the foreign language is spoken will extend learning.
The standard for interdisciplinary connections and acquiring information has two parts.
Standard 3.1: Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines
through the foreign language.
Standard 3.2: Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints
that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures.
You can see that the first part of the standard has to do with expanding knowledge of other disciplines through foreign language study, while the second part has to do with furthering sources of information, extending their resources for information and understanding. For the sake of your homeschool foreign language program, you might wish to consider figuring out how to allow your child to safely search the Internet for foreign language materials, or find some selected sources (for example, online versions of respected newspapers; reference books) that can help extend your child’s world.
The standard for comparisons focuses on the student’s ability - with the acquisition of a foreign language and beginning understanding of the culture associated with it - to stand back and reflect on his or her native language and culture.
Standard 4.1: Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own.
Standard 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.
You can see that the first part of the standard encourages language comparisons and contrasts, while the second part of the standard encourages culture comparisons and contrasts. The implications for your homeschool foreign language instruction is - again - integration with other disciplines, in this case, English language and social studies.
The standard for communities encourages the student’s participation in close and distant multilingual communities.
Standard 5.1: Students use the language both within and beyond the school setting.
Standard 5.2: Students show evidence of becoming life-long learners by using the
language for personal enjoyment and enrichment
Here, we see the homeschool foreign language being asked to go beyond interdisciplinary study to encourage children to speak their foreign language in their communities (with the implication that the community must move beyond the homeschool) and to instruct in such a way that the foreign language will become an integral part of the child’s life forever.
More information on the national standards can be acquired by ordering Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century from ACTFL here: