I have always loved foreign languages. When I was younger I remember learning sign language. As I got older I began learning German and then Spanish. I studied a bit of Latin and Hebrew too. There is just something about learning foreign languages that is so fun and exciting! I spent a lot of time in Germany when I was younger, studying as an exchange student and today my family hosts exchange students from around the world! This is such a neat way to bring the world to life for our little ones!
My oldest son and I have this love for foreign languages in common. He eagerly sought out, on his own initially, a variety of materials online, to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French too. At the age of 8 he is already in love with different languages; he greatly enjoys listening to music and stories that are in other languages (Momma loves opera so this is wonderful if you ask me!).
Research shows, that at a very young age, children can absorb more language skills as they learn to verbalize how they feel, what they are doing, how things look, etc. By exposing them to different languages and cultures early on, it truly benefits their communication and social skills as they get older. So, why not teach them a foreign language (or two or three) and broaden their horizons? Maybe it will broaden yours too!
It is also known that learning languages at a young age can assist children in becoming creative thinkers, more so than children who are only familiar with one language. By adding a foreign language to a child’s life, they are also given the opportunity to learn about other cultures and this can certainly benefit them in a variety of ways in the years to come.
We began with the Rosetta Stone home school program, for German, and while it is very costly there are many great benefits to this preogram. Last year we obtained, very inexpensively, Pimsleur Mandarin I which included 30 lessons and cultural notes too, on CD for our son. Since we were hosting a student from China this was a fun way to really get to know the language. We are hosting another Chinese student this fall and are looking forward to learning even more Chinese with her while also helping strengthen her English skills. Both of these options are rather pricey programs, but if you are patient you can find them at reasonable prices (sometimes used). Otherwise, a new and favorite app of mine is Duolingo. This is one is a very new tool for me, it is an app that I can use on my phone. I am working on my French since we have a friend visiting from France, so I’ve been using the app and trying to get used to it. So far its very simple, I love that if you have experience, you can test language skills so you aren’t spending time learning things you already know. We also recently received a year long membership to Petralingua. I will be sure to share how that one works with you once we really get started.
There are a lot more amazing foreign language tools out there and I will definitely be sharing them all in much more detail as the days go by. For now, I admit these are three of my favorites. I know that two of them are probably the most expensive ones out there, but stick with me and I will share all the good and the bad and the ugly as we go along.
I won’t lie; it is a real challenge for you and for them. Learning a language is definitely a lot of work. We have to show dedication, especially for our kids. We have to show them that we cannot give up. Think for a moment how much fun it will be to talk, together, in different languages? If we practice patience and perserverence (and just enjoy the learning experience) we’ll find that it is something that is so fun for everyone! Let’s enjoy singing, reading and studying the many languages out there together!
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