January is a great time to look back at the work you've accomplished and also to look ahead at the coming year and any changes you'd like to make. This is where the Virtual Curriculum Fair can play a role - it's nice to get a glimpse of other homeschools to motivate and inspire us!
This week we're focusing on language arts - grammar, spelling, writing, reading, phonics and foreign languages.
In our homeschool, we use a variety of materials from different publishers -
- Grammar: First Language Lessons
- Writing: Writing with Ease and Teaching Writing Structure & Style
- Spelling: All About Spelling
- Reading: good literature selections to expand reading level as well as "fun" books to work on speed and accuracy
- Latin: Prima Latina
- French: Mission Monde
Instead of talking about all of these great programs, I thought I would focus on the study of a foreign language.
I believe most people would agree that learning a foreign language is beneficial to any well-rounded education. We study two languages in our homeschool - Latin and French (and I plan to add Greek at some poing during the middle school years).
We study Latin because it is good training for the mind, it improves English grammar skills, and it's a great preparation for studying other foreign languages.
We study French because we live in Quebec. ;-)
Now, I believe there are three parts to a well-rounded foreign language education:
- Grammar and Vocabulary
- Reading and Writing
It's very easy to learn the grammar and vocabulary of a foreign language with a textbook or workbook. And, after you have learned enough, you can start tackling books or writing in that language. But speaking a language fluently only comes by practicing (and more than just a few minutes during a lesson) - immersion, immersion, immersion! And, since we live in a French province, it's important to me that we learn to speak the language fluently. Over the past few years I've complied a short list of things that we do to encourage fluency (we study French, you can obviously change this list to suit your language needs):
Label things around the house Conjugate a French verb each day Games - hangman, bingo, matching, or play any game but only speak in French Read familiar picture books in French Write a short letter in French once a month Watch movies in French (dvds are great for this with the language options available!) Speak French at specific times each day; speak only French at mealtimes a few times a week Write down daily phrases on index cards and make your own little "phrase book" and use them often Memorize familiar Bible verses in French Learn French songs Pray in French
So, even if you can't send your child to an immersion school, it is possible to provide the benefits of that type of education on a smaller scale. But you have to be willing to learn the language with your child!