Teaching FL as a fluent speaker

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  • Raggedy Princess

    We have been missionaries in Peru for the past 5 years and are now returning to the States. My oldest is 4, and I’ll be starting to homeschool with him next year. I don’t want him (or his little sister) to lose what Spanish they’ve learned already, and since I am a fluent speaker with good pronunciation, I was hoping to continue teaching them Spanish at home. Anyone else out there teach their children a FL as a fluent speaker with NO curriculum? Just wondering how you do it. Do you limit it as one of the CM subjects (just 15 minutes or so?) Or do you mix it in throughout the day? Do you do one day ALL day in target language? What activities do you do?

    Thanks for any ideas you may have!

    I am a fluent German speaker, and I have taught my daughters in the early years without curriculum just through conversation and pointing out items and giving them the German word.  We now use Tell Me More, because with the high school workload it was hard to keep it up – though we still have the conversation and they ask me what the German word is for unfamiliar objects.  I think you could make labels for common items in your home with the English and in your case Spanish word on it – I did this and then stuck the labels to the items.  I also used to greet them in German and over time they were able to answer etc – small bursts of language work well with the little ones, I just kind of added it to our daily life – if they were eating a bread roll I would tell them the German word – I labeled things in their bedrooms, and I would ask them to find the item when I came in.  We just did it like play at the start.  When they are little they soak it up like a sponge – now mine are older they are doing writing and things in German as well, so because it was so time consuming I went with the curriculum on the computer which is working great.  They hope to live there one day (we are EU citizens as well as British so this is quite easy to do) and so the language is really important to them.  I think in the early years you will do fine, it is not that hard to do, when it is done in a fun, and simple way. 

    Raggedy Princess

    Thanks so much for your response Laughing I appreciate you taking the time to answer & for insight into how things may be as the kids get older…  Blessings to you & your family.

    Richele Baburina

    Hi RP-  I’m sure it will be hard to leave Peru but I’ll bet your family will be glad to have you back.

    Not knowing how you would feel about switching to Spanish-speaking in your home, at least for part of the day, but here’s how we do it:

    I’m a non-native speaker of Russian married to a native speaker, living in the US.  After our children were born I spoke and read Russian with them even when their father wasn’t home (bedtime reading I do in English/husband in Russian).  We school in English (9-12) and then switch back to Russian unless we are out, have company, or I’m exhausted.   My oldest (ds8) reads Russian without having any formal lessons but this year he will be in 3rd and will begin Russian penmanship and some reading aloud to me (CM very short lessons).

    My youngest (ds5) tends to switch more readily to English unless we have a native-speaker in the house.  I don’t point it out but merely continue the conversation in Russian.

    We have some Russian folktales and cartoons on dvd and listen to audio stories as well.  We play both Russian music and music in English.  

    I’ll bet you’ll be able to meet some Spanish-speaking people in your new home in the US.  Playing with other children in the target language would be great. 

    I hope you have a smooth transition back!




    Raggedy Princess

    Thanks, Richele! So good to have another take on this. I realize I’m going to have to be fairly disciplined with this if I want my kids to continue to progress!!! Where have you gotten your FL books and other resources? We’ve got several Veggie Tales in Spanish & a few children’s books, but not many. It would be nice to increase our collection of FL supplies. We’ll be in Texas, so I know we’ll have opportunities to use what we know and maybe even find someone to practice with!

    Blessings to you Smile

    Finding another person to keep practising with is also very important otherwise our own skills get rusty.  This has happened to me, I have not been in Germany since 2004 and no-one around here that I have found speaks the language, so I watch German movies and documentaries, call my relatives over in Germany, use the computer program, watch German news on the computer – and read German news magazines etc.  Also talking to the girls in German helps a great deal.  To really keep things fluent, you have to take an immersion approach as Richelle has stated.  In Texas you are fortunate, as their will be Spanish speaking people there to talk to and for the children as well.  The internet often has TV or news shows from the countries of the world and that is where I watch a lot of the German stuff, I am sure they have Spanish as well.  Just don’t become discouraged, another language is such an asset in the world – it stood me in good stead when I worked in Germany and Austria for many years – and so keep going and make it a natural part of your day.  Good luck – Blessings – Linda

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