The Quandary of Teaching a Foreign Language: Que Sera Sera
Si la pensee de l'enseignement d'une langue etrangere au cours des annees de lycee vous effraie, vous n'etes pas seul! For a translation, read on...
If the thought of teaching a foreign language during the high school years scares you, you are not alone! Many parents shake and shudder at the thought. If it's been quite a number of years since you conjugated verbs in another language, take a deep breath and relax. There are many options for providing your teen with the foreign language skills he may need.
Ist eine fremde Sprache erforderlich? (German for "Is a Foreign Language Necessary?")
Although many homeschoolers are not required by state homeschool law to teach a foreign language (check out your state's requirements), there are several reasons why we encourage you to do so.
Learning a foreign language is advantageous when traveling, living in an area with many internationals, applying for certain jobs, or serving in missions or charitable work. In addition, communicating with others in their native language is a matter of great respect and puts people at ease. For those students who are college bound, a minimum of two years of the same foreign language during the high school years is required by many colleges. And don't forget that learning a foreign language in many cases improves English grammar.
Hvordan kan jeg lare et fremmedsprak? (Norwegian for "How Do I Teach a Foreign Language?")
High school foreign language courses should incorporate the components of reading, speaking, and writing the language, including using proper grammar. There are many foreign language programs from which to choose. Some are specifically directed toward the homeschool student and, as such, are user friendly. Certain curricula are computer-based while others use textbooks.
Some curricula assume that the parent has a working knowledge of the foreign language being studied; however, other programs advertise that no prior knowledge is needed. Foreign language programs often include pronunciation tapes, DVD instruction, online courses and other materials to facilitate learning.
Some additional options for providing a foreign language course to your teen include taking the course at a community college or in a co-op setting; or finding a private tutor, homeschool parent, or homeschool graduate to teach your teen. Even a former teacher or a retiree may be enlisted to teach your teen a foreign language. If you live in a community which is home to internationals, you might offer one of them the opportunity to improve his or her English skills in exchange for tutoring your child in his or her native tongue. There are any numbers of possibilities.
Que lenguaje se estudia? (Spanish for "What Language Do We Study?")
As a homeschooler, you have great flexibility to choose a language that will be most beneficial to your teen. Factors for choosing a foreign language can include your teen's future education and career plans, personal interest, and the availability of study materials. From Arabic to Russian to the more familiar Spanish and French, the choice of language may be something you would like your teen to decide. HSLDA does not recommend one program over another, but we provide a sampling of the many curricula available to give you a starting point from which to investigate:
Some colleges specify that in order to fulfill their admission requirements for high school foreign language courses, the language must be currently spoken or a modern language. Other schools do accept Latin, for example, even though it is not a modern language. If you are thinking about teaching Latin as a foreign language, we recommend that you check how the college your teen is considering will view the Latin course.
American Sign Language is now accepted by some colleges as fulfilling high school foreign language requirements. If your teen completes a sign language course and you desire to award academic credit for the course, be sure that: 1) the number of hours devoted to the course rises to that of any other academic course, and 2) the materials used are either high school or college level. See these links for more info:
Come faccio a valutare un corso di lingua straniera? (Italian for "How Do I Evaluate a Foreign Language Course?")
A foreign language course is considered a core academic course (similar to English, math, science, and history). As such, it is important to determine a method of evaluation for your teen's coursework in order to award him or her a final grade at the completion of the course. If the curriculum being used includes quizzes, tests, and daily assignments, most of the work will be done for you (publishers usually also include answer keys). For example, you can simply assign a percentage value to each of the aforementioned categories--such as quizzes (25%), tests (65%) and daily assignments (10%). (Feel free to come up with your own evaluation categories and percentages.) On the other hand, if you choose to use a curriculum that does not include prepared tests or quizzes; you will need to develop your own evaluation resources in order to award a grade.
In addition to a letter grade, you'll need to determine how much credit to give the foreign language course. Usually a one-year course (such as Spanish 1) will be given one credit. Pre-packaged curriculum typically indicates the level of the course (Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 3, etc.); however, other material may not clearly delineate between the various levels. If this is the case with the curriculum or materials you are using, then it's best to contact the publisher of the material and ask what level of high school foreign language the materials cover, how long the material should take to complete, and how many high school credits to award at the end of the course. Publishers know the content of their materials, how the materials relate to typical high school work, and what needs to be accomplished before a credit is awarded. When noting the credit on your teen's transcript, it is important to include the level of the course (Spanish 1, French 2, etc.) in the course title. Git Along Little Doggies (Cowboy talk for moving on...)
Now that the foreign language ogre is off your back, join us next month as we discuss various ways that your teen can earn college credit while still in high school using AP tests, CLEP tests, and dual enrollment courses taken online or through a local community college.
Enjoying the coming of spring after a hard winter on the East Coast,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (4/1/2010), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.