Charlotte Mason's philosophy on foreign language makes a lot of sense. Natural language progression begins with listening, progresses to speaking, followed by reading and then writing. Much of listening and speaking happen simultaneously, as well as reading and writing. This progress is clear when we watch babies grow into young scholars.
Once the listening and speaking phases are well understood and work on reading and writing begins, another language can be introduced. This is basically the philosophy we have used to study foreign language.
When my children were toddlers, I worked as an engineer and they were watched by a wonderful Mexican lady. During that time my kids learned to understand Spanish, but because she understood English, they never really learned to speak. Regardless, I am confident they could speak in a very short time as the Spanish language is in their heads.
Before they began studying written Spanish we moved to Germany. For that reason, we quit studying Spanish temporarily and began studying German. Once they could speak and understand German, they began learning to read in German and resumed listening to Spanish.
It has been over four years since we moved to Germany and the older two kids have begun studying a third language. My eleven year old chose French and my son chose Chinese. They now spend between 30 and 45 minutes per week studying each language.
The materials we have used to learn languages are very natural. Instead of trying to follow a curriculum or read a picture dictionary, we have listened to children's music and watched children's television and movies targeted for native speakers of the language. Occasionally we have listened to CD's that help to learn such things as colors, numbers, months, and body parts, but have found that music targeted for native speakers of the language is much more enjoyable.
Living in Germany it has been easy to find resources in German. Spanish resources were also easy to find as so many children's DVD's are available in several languages. We watched shows such as Dora the Explorer in German, and Plaza Sesamo which is the Spanish version of Sesame Street. Chinese resources have been more difficult for me to find. My son currently follows the Transparent Language on-line curriculum.
Recently we have been using the iPad to study German. I typed in the key word "Lesen" which means to read in German. From there I was able to download several audio books and simple kid games. In the past I've written about the materials we use for Foreign Language study. The posts can be found by visiting my Language Arts page.
If you use other language immersion resources I would love to hear about them.
Parlez-vous Francais? - Barefoot Hippie Girl
Regard to Teaching a Foreign Language - Hammock Tracks
Seeking to Learn a New Language - Every Bed of Roses
Five Ways to Homeschool Foreign Language - Navigating by Joy
Fun with Foreign Language - One Magnificent Obsession
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