What We Are Using for Foreign Language

I knew early on that I wanted my children to learn foreign languages, particular Latin and Spanish. Spanish seems obvious since it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. The advantage of Latin is different though. Aside from the normal mental strengthening that learning a foreign language provides, Latin can give insight to our English language by using the root to interpret what a word might mean or give a deeper understanding of the word. This happens quite frequently in science, but also throughout all of the Enlgish language.

This year we are using Latin for Children from Classical Academic Press. It has suited our needs well. It has both taught vocabulary and grammar, but also has an accompanying activity book as well as a reader for translating. The Latin for children program comes with a DVD, a CD of the chants, a workbook that also reviews what the DVD was explaining, an activity book, and a Latin history reader.  It has 39 chapters meant to be finished in a year with review chapters in regular intervals.  The way we’ve chosen to execute the curriculum is by starting day one with the video from the DVD. On day two we practice vocabulary with games, listen to the chant, and then usually do a puzzle from the activity book. On the third day we read through the workbook. This reviews the material in the DVD. As my son really dislikes worksheets, I use the workbook as a guide asking him questions verbally and maybe coming up with an exercise for him to do, but we rarely do the worksheets themselves. On the final day we practice vocabulary again and listen to the chants. On the Classical Academic Press  website under Latin for Children, they have support documents one of which contains flashcards. Rather than printing out the flash cards front and back, I printed out the flash cards only on one side  so that we could use them as cards in games for memorizing vocabulary. Two of the more regular games that we use the flashcards are rummy and memory.

Although we only started Latin this year in 7th grade, Spanish we started much earlier. With both children we started introducing them to Spanish around 5 years old. Ideally I would love to be bilingual and start even earlier by speaking to them, but unfortunately I am not fluent in Spanish. I struggled for a while finding something that really suited our needs. We used Rosetta Stone with my oldest by eliminating the writing and the reading portions, and although this worked, it wasn’t ideal. But I have found a curriculum that I really like for this age group and it is also from Classical Academic Press. The curriculum is called SongSchool Spanish. This curriculum, like Latin for Children, has a DVD, a CD with Spanish songs, and a workbook. The aspects that I love about this program is first it’s adaptive to all Early Elementary age groups from pre-school all the way to about second or third grade. Second there’s a lot of activities that don’t require workbook work, though there are several worksheets in the workbook they can be used if that works for your child. And finally  there really is no focus on grammar yet. I think it’s important for children to learn how to understand and speak a language before they start delving into grammar. The exception is when you are using that language to teach for grammar and root work like we are for Latin this year. My only disappointment is that there is only one year of this curriculum.

These resources have been working well for us. I plan to continue next year with Primer B for next year with Latin for Children and hope that maybe SongSchool Spanish will come up with a year two. 😉

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