Topic | When did you start a forgein language?

This topic contains 15 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  suzukimom 5 years, 8 months ago.

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  • Misty

    I am just wondering what grade you decided to start a forgein language? I am not so interested in what you choose just whne you started.

    Also, for those who choose to just wait till high school did you feel it was enough, not enough or you wish you would have started eariler?

    Rachel White

    Both: Started Modern Hebrew-ages 6 ; Will start Classical Latin -ages 11

    Definitely for son: will start Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew -Age 14

    Do not know if dd will do the Greek yet, is possible she’ll transition into Biblical Hebrew in her upper years.



    Hi Misty,

    I know each family is different (and I may get a lot of flak for this), but we’ve chosen to hold off on foreign language until highschool – unless, of course, a child (or parent) has a huge desire to learn it before then :). We found it just wasn’t high on our priority list for our children. My oldest took 2 years of German in highschool. Is he fluent in it? No, but it will satisfy those requirments if need be. For our family, there were other things we wanted our children to focus on in those early years, other than a foreign language. Oh and lest I forget to mention- when I tried to teach a foreign language (and find the right curriculum) I was left in tears and wore out much of the time. I am very encouraged by Joanne Calderwood (homeschool Mom to 8 kids ( I asked her this same question years back – she helped me put it in perspective….

    I think the answer depends on one’s purpose for having a student learn a second (or third or fourth) language.

    If I truly want my student to learn and fully speak and understand a 2nd language, if that was my goal, I would not wait until high school to study the language. Just as learning a musical instrument uses a different part of the brain and can be started at a young age, so does learning a second language. Start young for optimum effect, especially if the interest is there.

    If I just want my students to study another language for the purpose of being exposed to it and satisfying the college entrance requirements, I would wait until high school. I have taken this approach so far, as *truly* learning and being fluent in a language is not super high on my list of educational priorities for my children.

    We have to choose our priorities and this just isn’t one of mine. If I had a child who was interested in language study, by all means I would offer this to him or her. For other families, it may be very high on their list of desired accomplishments for their students. If it is high on the priority list, then starting young is absolutely feasible and recommended.

    I personally feel it all depends on your priorities for each of your children and every family will look different when it comes to foreign language. 

    Blessings, Heather





    Thanks for your honesty, to both of you. I appareciate it.

    We are doing Latin right now and thought with the program we used it would be ok. They are doing it, we are taking it very slow.

    Next year is looking a bit different and I just can’t see I will have the time to do a family language. I am thinking of dropping it. I know some will also go “ohhhh” at that to me also, but it is not a priority for us and I really just need it to fill HS requirements.

    I think you are right and maybe I just needed to hear it from someone else who is waiting till HS. I took 2 years German in 7-8th grade and 1 full credit in 9th and 2 credits of Spanish and guess what I don’t know anything with a few exceptions. Dh same thing and he doesn’t either.

    For us not a priority, so maybe I will back off and focus on other things of importance to us and worry about that in 9-10th grade and be done.


    Rachel White

    True, you must choose what to teach according to your priorities for your children and your family situation. In regards to my decision:

    1. I want my children to be able to communicate in Israel, speaking and reading fluently as our Congregation is active in the Land and they both have a desire to go there. Obviously, it will assist them in the liturgy as well.

    2. I want them to benefit intellectually from the study of Latin, possibly even reading Latin classics.

    3. I want them to be able to read the Tanakh/Old Testament in the original Hebrew. Once they know the Modern Hebrew, transitioning to the Biblical isn’t a big deal.

    4. I know my son can handle languages and believe, since he was 2, that G-d has something special for him and equiped his brain and the passion He has given him to serve His Jewish Brethren; requiring that he be able to read both the Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek of the New Covenant. 

    5. My dd is of a different cut so, though I think she could transition into Biblical Hebrew after years of modern, I don’t know if she’ll take Koine. Her job will be as a wife and mother, training up the next generation of Messianic Jews in her family. The learning of Latin will be a good thing for her.

    Just a sample of my priorities,



    For us, we started German when my oldest was 5 (so 3 and 1 for the next two) – they all listened in.  Not sure if we are getting too far…

    My oldest 2 kids did a pre-school ASL course… but we didn’t go anywhere with it after that.  We are now doing it again as a family using Signing Time videos.  It is hard to find age appropriate resources…  but they are learning lots of words.  So we started it with an 8yo, 6yo, 3yo and 18mo (and yes, the 18mo does sign… she signs more than she speaks at this point.)

    But I agree, if you have no real reason for it except HS credits, I wouldn’t put the effort and energy into it.

    In our church, it is actually highly recommended to learn another language.  My son will most likely go on a mission for 2 years, and it might be in another language.  My daughters might also go on a mission.   My problem is I wish they could learn LOTS of languages… and foreign languages have always been a struggle for me.

    We are doing German because my dh lived in Germany for a time, and is fairly fluent

    We are doing ASL because I took a lot of courses before, and it can be handy here.

    I kind of would like to do French because we are in Canada and it is an official language, and is at times important to know for employment reasons (that said, I hated it after one specific teacher at school…)

    and then there are a lot of spanish speaking people in our church… as well as it being useful in the States…

    and then there are the benefits of Latin…. 

    SIGH.  Obviously we aren’t going to do all of the above!


    Oh we are doing ASL also. This we love and enjoy using especially on dad who does not know it. I will be pursuing a HS level credit for it and have a wonderful mom in our church who is a ASL translator. So they will have that and I know in our area they are very much needed in the hospitals. My mom works a a nurse and says they are always tring to find ASL’s available in our part of the community.

    Thanks for the reasons and I think your reasons are so good. I just don’t have anything like that. So I think I need to as I said use our time in other areas and leave it till HS for Latin and just continue ASL. (which everyone enjoys)



    My 21yos only had Latin in high school.  We had started it around 5th grade and it just didn’t click with us so we stopped.  My two 8yos are only doing exposure things right now.  We’ve had exchange students and last summer and the one before when our French son would visit, he would record French books that I had in my lending library.  I burned them onto CD and patrons can check them out and follow along with the  book.  I also have German because a grandmother of children in my library is from Germany.  I’m looking for a native Spanish speaker as well.  I don’t know when we’ll begin formal study but right now life is too busy to add one more thing.


    When my kids were born!!


    Me too, petitemom! Smile Your kids are 8 and 10, right? My DD is only 2 1/2 so I’m thinking ahead… when did you start reading/writing skills with them? The SCM guide has reading/writing in a foreign language starting in grade 4. Did you stay close to that, or did you start earlier? (I guess I’m also asking, did you wait until reading/writing in the native language was pretty well established?)

    Rachel White

    Petitemom-I smiled when you said that beause my son’s first word was actually a Hebew word: Hineini.

    Just putting in my two cents: both of mine were learning Hebrew (officially, though they had exposure from music and liturgy since my son’s birth and my dd’s adoption at 3) at age 6 and English at the same time. No confusion.

    There wasn’t any writing of the characters, just coloring them, the first year. They also had posters of the characters hanging in their room walls from the time they were 6 (learning by osmosis). Then in the second book, they began writing in the print style (age 7) and then the following year, cursive Hebrew (age 8). All this was before 4th grade and all the while doing copywork in English, too. So the writing of both English and HEbrew were pretty parallel to each other except for my son, who learned cursive Hebrew before English cursive.

    So I did not wait for Hebrew reading/writing till the native English was well established. The longer we go, the more helpful my son is as he is surpassing me and helps his sister; he’s become a co-teacher.




    I have a 10-8-4 and 2 years old. They all speak French (the 2 year old does not speak much yet and says a few words in both languages). They all took a little longer than most kids to really start speaking, which I heard is commun for kids who are learning 2 languages at once.

    My oldest is 10 and used to speak 3 languages, French, English and Italian but since dad speaks mostly English w/the kids and Nonni do not come to visit much anymore, the Italian has been pretty much lost.

    I have always been very serious about talking only in French w/my kids and have them answer to me in French, except when we pray (because I learned how to pray in English and it feels weird to me to pray in French).

    This is my first year homeschooling. I waited until they knew the Alphabet well in English to introduce it in French because I did not want them to get mixt up.

    My 10 and 8 years old are starting this year to read.

    My 10 years old is very good w/languages, he picks it up pretty quick. My 8 years old needs a little more practice, some sounds are more hard for him to pronounce.

    My 4 years old is in Preschool. I am starting homeschooling w/him next year but I do not think of starting w/reading and writing French until the English is well established.


    I started Spanish with my kids this year, ages 7, 5, & 3. We are learning it as a family and y goal is for them to be able to communicate in the language well. This year is mostly about exposure and picking up some basic vocabulary. I wanted to start young because of the incredible capacity for language at younger ages. I love languages and this was important to me.


    We started Spanish this year as well.  My kids are 6, 4, and 2.   My DH speaks it, which is why we chose Spanish.  We have just been watching the Salsa videos, and then trying to use the vocabulary whenever we can.  DH throws out fun phrases whenever he thinks about it.  We also think that early exposure is best, but our language study isn’t incredibly formal yet.

    As to reading/writing, I have posted all the words and phrases (probably 100 -120 words) on our upright freezer beside our kitchen table.  So we refer to that and talk about the words, so both my 6 and 4 year old can read all the words they can say/understand.  (My 4yr old is reading English enough to handle books like the Frog and Toad readers.)  Even my 2 year old can point to a few words, such as colours and numbers, because she asks about them all the time.  It hasn’t seemed to confuse them at all.  

    We haven’t started writing, nor have we done any direct instruction in the differences between sounds in English/Spanish.  We probably won’t do this for a long while, unless my 6yo wants to try.  (4yo isn’t even holding a crayon well yet, it’ll be a while before any writing is on our radar for him!)

    Someday we may address German, because I have some background there.  We’ll probably do some basic French, as well, since we are in Canada.  It should be relatively easy after the Spanish.  I haven’t decided on Latin yet.

    Kelly Bond

    I tried to do a formal language with my 6yo this year and decided to drop it. Too advanced for him, and I wanted to take a different approach. If you’re looking for a gentle, easy, fun way to introduce Spanish, I highly recommend this set of DVDs I only linked to one, but you’ll see by browsing that there are several). Many of them are available at our library. Also, Spanish music (nursery rhyme types) to memorize, like we do our poems. Really gentle and simple. Right now, he and his 3yo brother enjoy them but they are learning to understand (not necessarily speak) many words. The DVDs take the immersion approach. Just another thought! I will eventually use some of the words from the DVD to incorporate into our lives and maybe write out some index cards and label stuff around the house. But for now, I think this is great exposure with no work required by Mom!

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