Why Immersion Is the Best Way to Learn a Foreign Language in Your Homeschool

Years ago, before I had my own children and began homeschooling, I taught second grade in a traditional private Christian school. One year the school hired a Spanish teacher that was actually from South America and spoke Spanish as her native language. She was going to come into each elementary classroom a few times a week and teach the kids Spanish.

Now I had taken Spanish in high school. I had two years of Spanish. All I can really remember is watching videos of a teacher- who spoke English- going over lists of vocabulary. “Today we’re going to learn Spanish greetings….” I remember very little of what I learned. Even just a few years out of high school when I went on a missions trip to Mexico, I couldn’t speak in Spanish or understand most of what was said.

I expected that the new Spanish teacher would come into my classroom and begin to teach these second graders lists of Spanish words. I can remember thinking, “Maybe it will work because they are starting younger.”

And then the teacher came in for her first visit with my class. She spoke no English. None. The kids looked at each other. They looked at me. I was sure this wasn’t going to work. But our Spanish teacher continued talking to the kids and using gestures or motions to get across what she was saying. Occasionally she also indicated for the kids to repeat words or phrases. By the end of the class period, the kids- and I – had figured out quite a bit of what she was saying. I was surprised.
This continued each week. She talked to the kids, occasionally using English, but primarily speaking in Spanish. She showed the kids Spanish cartoons. She had the kids repeat Spanish words and phrases. I was amazed. By the end of the year, I had many kids who were speaking and understanding basic Spanish. I could even understand much of what was said!

Online Spanish Language Instruction
Disclosure: I received free access to the curriculum and compensation for this post. All opinions are always my own.

This was my first indication that immersion in a foreign language works. It really works. Research has found many benefits of using immersion to learn a foreign language. I’m sharing just a few here. I’m also sharing an online Spanish learning program for kids that uses immersion with kids teaching kids the language- Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids®. It’s an awesome way to teach kids Spanish through immersion. And there’s a discount code! So keep reading.

Students who learn a foreign language through immersion develop speaking and listening patterns that are very similar to native speakers.

When I was in high school memorizing my lists of Spanish vocabulary words, I wasn’t learning much about the speaking patterns of the language because we weren’t using the words in context. The video teacher would point out pronunciation, but that isn’t at all the same as hearing the words spoken in conversation. Students who are learning a language through immersion, however, are hearing the speaking patterns and pronunciation in the context of conversation, so it’s easier to pick up those patterns.

Students learning through immersion are typically much more fluent in speaking the language.

I am evidence of this. When I went on my missions trip to Mexico, I couldn’t really speak to any native speakers in Spanish. I knew some words, but I had rarely heard them in conversation, so I wasn’t at all fluent. I could try to piece together some of my words in order to make myself understood, but it wasn’t easy. In contrast, when students are learning a language through immersion, they’re picking up on how to use the language in real conversation, so they’re going to be much more fluent.

Becoming proficient in a second language through immersion can actually help students develop better thinking and problem solving skills.

Learning a language is really about much more than memorizing lists of vocabulary. To really be able to speak and understand a language involves complex language skills such as learning how to decode words by knowing the sounds of letters and understanding sentence patterns. Research has shown that as students develop these complex skills, they’re also developing critical thinking and problem solving skills in other areas. It’s almost as if putting those thinking and problem solving skills to practice in one area strengthens and grows them in other areas as well.

Online Spanish Language Instruction

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids® for Homeschool Spanish

About the Program

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids® is a video-based language learning program. Right now there are videos for Spanish, but other languages will come. The videos feature kids, but they can be used by any ages. The accompanying student workbooks are intended for kids who can read well.

The program consists of eight levels. Each level has five or six video lessons, reading and listening practice, assessments, and optional cultural study. The videos are like sitcoms where kids are in real life situations speaking only Spanish. Learners are building their Spanish language skills as they go listening to the language used in context.

In addition to the videos, you can get student workbooks and detailed teacher’s guides. You can also get an online subscription which has the video episodes online instead of in the form of physical DVDs. If you purchase the online version, you can purchase the physical resources separately.

What Makes It Awesome?

~You don’t have to know Spanish to use this program. This was good news to me. The videos are designed so that kids can learn the language without you knowing it to teach to them.

~The videos can be used for any age. They feature young children, so your older children may consider them too “young” at first. But if they stay involved they’ll see how easy it is to pick up the language. This can allow the whole family to learn together, and I love homeschool resources that do that!

~The program is very easy to use without much parent planning or setup. To make it even easier, you can purchase the teacher’s guides which break everything down into specific lessons and give you extras, like the vocabulary that will be covered in each level.

~Spanish is presented with real people having real conversation about normal, everyday activities. This total immersion and learning language in context is very effective, and the kids- and you- will begin to pick up the language quickly.

Try It Out

There are several options for you to choose from to try out this program.

The Super Set gives you one year of the online program or videos with levels 1-4. There are also other resources, including a teacher’s guide and student workbook.
The Early Learner Set is specifically for ages 3-6 and includes levels 1-3 in either videos or one year online program. It also includes some fun hands-on resources, including a stuffed animal, coloring book, and stickers.
The Single Level Set includes Level 1 (Azul) in either video form or three months of the online program. It also includes a teacher’s guide, student workbook, a card game, and stickers.
And the Complete DVD Set includes DVDs for levels 1-8.

And you can use this coupon code for a discount: Coupon code 20OFFFORYOU grants 20% off any order. It is valid through April 30, 2018.

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