imgres-1Do you speak a second language? If the answer is “yes,” did you learn that second language from high school? I have very rarely met a someone who did.

And the sad fact is, with the right education, we could have learned at least 2 languages in 4 years. This probably sounds crazy to you if you live in the United States, because our foreign language education is so terrible that becoming fluent in another language seems like an impossible task, reserved only for geniuses and Europeans.

Personally, I spent 4 years learning Spanish in high school, then a semester in college. The first time I travelled to South America, I realized I really didn’t know anything about how to speak and understand Spanish. I had memorized a lot of vocabulary and some rules, but I could not communicate. Not only that, but I believed that I was just bad at languages.

Eventually though, I tracked down a great 1-on-1 Spanish tutor (who happens to be the lead teacher of LOI Spanish now). In 1-to-1 classes, I went from barely able to speak to being able to have full conversations in about a year. There was no magic involved in this transformation – no trick or tip that made me learn faster. It’s just that in  1-on-1 classes, I spent 100 percent of my time communicating in Spanish. For the full time that I was in every class I was either speaking Spanish or trying to understand it. What percentage of communication time do you think a student gets in a traditional classroom setting?

So, as a home schooler (or someone who wants to supplement traditional education), how can you avoid the same mistakes that public schools make teaching children and teens Spanish or French or Mandarin? First, get rid of anything that does not promote actual communication in the target language. This means workbooks, apps, shelfware (i.e. Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur), etc.

They may teach your children some vocabulary and grammar, but they’re not going to teach your child how to speak another language. Second, give them time communicating with a live person in the target language. There are a few ways to do this. You can move to another country (not feasible for most of us). You can hire a native speaker who is also a professional teacher that lives in your area to come in and give private lessons (not feasible in most areas). Or, take live 1-on-1 classes online for home schoolers. The beautiful thing about this last option is that it doesn’t matter where you live. When you have access to the global pool of teachers via the internet, suddenly highly qualified teachers who are native speakers of the language are not so rare. In fact, they’re plentiful, and you can choose the best one who can meet on the schedule that’s best for you.

The individualized attention that your child receives from 1-to-1 classes will help them advance quickly, and the classes can focus on their personalized interests. They won’t finish classes feeling bored, or like they’re someone that just can’t learn languages.

I think many home school families realize that the best learning comes from meaning, intention, and interest. Learning a language is the same way, it needs to have a purpose in order for children to retain the vocabulary and grammar. Linguistically speaking, the main purpose of any language is to communicate with another person. If you take this element out of language learning you will lose interest and ultimately give up on the language. When you are communicating with another person who is helping you learn the language, the significance and desire to learn is sparked, and real learning starts.

Ready to try this? LOI Spanish offers a first class free. Classes, of course, are not exclusively for home schoolers, and we help children of any level, starting at age 5. Click here to learn more and register.

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