About Me

I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Languages

I read this article on the BBC news website yesterday:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18531751

It does not surprise me. Often I feel quite ashamed to be British, and to be so poor at languages. Also, it is simply intuitive that a younger child will learn a language more easily; last year in France, my then two year old mastered basic words and greetings in French, and used them with other children in a swingpark. Friends of mine who are overseas missionaries often tell me how easily their children master the complex sounds and tones of other languages (I am thinking here of some of the Asian languages, where a word can completely change meaning if spoken in the wrong tone).

So really, I need to think more concretely about language learning for my toddlers. The main question that catches me out is, 'Which language?'. In Britain, children tend to be taught French. That has its uses, but would it be the best? I suppose there is also Francophone Africa to consider too... As a family, we believe we will work overseas again in the future, but as yet are unclear about where! If we were still in Africa, or knew where we were heading, the choice of language would be easy. One of the Chinese languages would be an asset, especially with the development of China. Or maybe Spanish, opening up both parts of Europe but also Latin America...

I wonder whether any of you have any thoughts on this? Have you started language learning yet? Which language did you choose and why? Is there a particular curriculum you follow? Thanks for sharing!

4 comments:

  1. An interesting topic, my husband suggests Mandarin due to potential future opportunities for the children and we know a few people who speak it so would look at asking them to help, particularly with the tone of the language. I don't know when we would look at starting with the children, my eldest is 3 at the moment but I would like to soon. I suppose i'm a little concerned that people will think i'm pushing my child to learn another language when he has only just started being more eloquent in his first language. But isn't it best to learn languages when they are young? I have an A-level in german myself but i'm swayed against that as i don't think it would be very useful unless we aim to be in Germany anytime in the future and at the moment that country is not on our radar. Spanish and Mandarin are my top two choices at this current moment in time.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree about Mandarin and the tones. A few years ago I was in Thailand, and got to the point where I could understand quite a bit, but struggled to say the words correctly, whereas the missionary children were perfect. Children do seem to learn so much better in that respect, and if you know friends who speak it, all the better. Statistically, most of the world speaks Mandarin, English or Spanish. So, choosing two, it would be Mandarin and Spanish I agree!

    Don't worry about being thought pushy. I think the evidence is compelling that this is the age to start! I'm browsing resources now. Let me know how you get on!

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  3. Good Topic,

    Mandarin and tonal aspects and spanish, both the 2 to go for. But what about Hindi as 1/2 a billion people speak this language
    I wonder if letting my children consistently hear the sounds will help later, so they speak correctly rather than having a poor accent! or sound like they are talking a foreign language.

    Want to start young with my 3 year old twins, but how do you get started this young?

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  4. Dear Anonymous,

    With regard to getting started, the local Home Education network (there is both a Yahoo group and a Facebook page for my region) has quite a lengthy resource list for most subjects, including languages. I have found that once I start looking, there is a huge amount out there - the problem then is knowing how to best be selective!

    Also, I wonder whether we should start by focussing on one foreign language, and then add a second. After all, many Europeans are fluent in more than one other than their mother tongue!

    Personally, I am leaning towards Spanish rather than Mandarin for some basic practical reasons. Although I do believe that God may call us to work in China at some point in the future, we are more likely to visit Spain in the next few years. Secondly, whilst the children might pick up the tones of Mandarin well, the parents would struggle whereas with Spanish, I can imagine learning together as a family a little more easily. But Mandarin would be the next choice!

    Interestingly, perusing the internet, it does seem that these are the 'top two' choices by other home educating parents too.

    Let me know how you get on with your twins! I wonder whether learning together will enhance their experience?

    Kondwani

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