Choosing a foreign language .. which one? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-11-2012, 05:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am trying to decide on a foreign language program for dd who is kindy age. We do NOT have a language that dh or I speak fluently and no deep connection to any particular culture that would make an obvious choice. 

 

I obviously need to learn along with her. I took french in school and enjoy the language so I could build from there but I don't know anyone who speaks it and groups/meetups for french are not common in our area. Since really being able to pick up a language has so much to do with being able to use it I don't know if this will be a good fit. 

The dominant second language in our area by far is Hindi. It's becoming an increasingly useful language to know in business but I'm concerned about being able to learn it myself to be honest. 

Then there's always the argument that knowing Spanish is so valuable. 

 

So, if you could/did pick a language which one is it and why?


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#2 of 8 Old 06-11-2012, 08:21 AM
 
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I would never pick a language for my child. I would wait for an interest in a particular language and culture to develop. With no context in which to see the language in action, to appreciate the culture, to practice and use skills, and no parental fluency, your child's own curiosity and motivation are going to be extremely important in maintaining interest and producing learning. So I really think the interest should come from her. That's not to say I wouldn't salt her environment with opportunities to develop interest. But I would caution you against unrolling a program and saying "here is the language I've chosen for you to learn." 

 

My various kids have at various points learned some French (we live in Canada, so that's not a foreign language, but we're in a very anglo province), Japanese, Latin, ASL and Spanish. Spanish and French have sustained interest the longest because we tend to see and hear them used a little bit around us. My ideal choice for my kids would be French because we're Canadian, but we lack the resources so Spanish has taken centre stage. They can get a bit of a learning community thanks to the local school, which teaches Spanish but not French at the high school level. Go figure.

 

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#3 of 8 Old 06-11-2012, 02:29 PM
 
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Well, if your child doesn't like the launguage you choose and/or chooses to focus on another one later, I don't see how that could be a problem :)

 

OP, I would probably choose Hindi if you think it is a very dominant language, although I don't know how many resources are out there to learn it?  I am focusing on Spanish because I have a strong background (both cultural and educational) in Spanish, plus it is the major second language in my area. 

 

Certainly if dd or ds wants to learn another language later on of their own choice, I will be thrilled to help them with that!


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#4 of 8 Old 06-11-2012, 03:00 PM
 
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If I didn't know anything about another language and had to rely on outside sources, hear it spoken, etc, I would most definitely choose the one in my area--whatever it is.  Where is it you live that Hindi is a dominant language?  If it's in India, or even in an Indian-American community in North America, I imagine there would be a lot of books with both English and Hindi in it, being that the Indian and the Pakistani cultures are now so intertwined with the English language.  You really want to hear a language spoken or sung.  If I just wanted practice speaking, I would want to talk with as many native speakers as I can (in as many natural situations as I could), who would be willing to help me-- and not bother about the books.

 

That said, we have enjoyed just singing songs in other languages, completely outside of the context of learning another language.  We learn Canadian-French from Raffi ("Allouette", "Frere Jascque" and others) and Spanish from various sources ("Los Pollitos" or "Mariposa"), even children's songs in Japanese or Swahili.  First, especially for kindy ages, I would simply start introducing the idea of other languages simply through this music because it is FUN.

 

I know some Spanish and German, and can flub my way along, pronouncing both with relative ease.  That lets me read some of the fun dual-language picture books that our library system has.  If your child likes that kind book with a picture and an identifying word (like a picture dictionary), they would love the Usbourne books "First Thousand Words In...." which comes with internet support for pronunciation.  In this way I am teaching myself some French to answer my kids' questions from the book.  Like Miranda said, they have largely taken the initiative to learn these, and I have no goal other them to have their brains get used to the idea that there are other words for the same object.  (That's not even a "goal", really, but in learning a foreign language, I think it is essential for that fact to click.  Half my classmates in school just never really internalized this, though it seems like such an obvious and easy thing.)

 

So, my girls' interest in Spanish especially and German and now French, came from these songs, from having fun counting in as many languages as we could think of (my girls loved to count!).  I wouldn't say they are speaking anything besides just nouns or numbers, but I have no larger agenda for them.

 

As for "which language", well.... if your child can read, and wants to read the language, not just speak it, I would go for Spanish.  Most every letter is pronounced exactly the same in almost every situation.  There are very, very few exceptions to this.  So, a beginning reader might appreciate the change from English in this regard (that is true for my oldest).  An adult who has no foundation in a foreign language might appreciate the ease of pronunciation as well.  For speaking, Spanish sounds are relatively easy for the native English speaker to replicate, at least for me.  The French and German R's are difficult for me, and the vowels seem really unnatural-- not so for Spanish.  

 

Getting the sound quality precise is not really of prime importance, though.  That's where the "foreign" sound comes from, but for anyone, especially children, that should not be a concern.  

 

ETA:  Woah!  That was a long post-- sorry!!


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#5 of 8 Old 06-11-2012, 03:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by greenemami View Post

Well, if your child doesn't like the launguage you choose and/or chooses to focus on another one later, I don't see how that could be a problem :)

 


It's a financial problem, because when you don't have much in the way of people-resources for learning a language, the effective home-study programs tend to be very expensive. 

 

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#6 of 8 Old 06-11-2012, 03:22 PM
 
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One of the drawbacks of language curriculums, or even just teaching kids the way I am teaching mine, is that they always start in a particular place, a name , a noun and numbers, assuming that this is where the spark of understanding begins and I am not so sure that is necessarily correct.  I think that "aha!" place is going to be different from person to person, or from child to adult.  I think immersion works so well because of this, and because learning any language, even your native tongue, begins with comprehension and then, a bit later or much, much later, speech.


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#7 of 8 Old 06-12-2012, 07:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenemami View Post

Well, if your child doesn't like the launguage you choose and/or chooses to focus on another one later, I don't see how that could be a problem :)

 


It's a financial problem, because when you don't have much in the way of people-resources for learning a language, the effective home-study programs tend to be very expensive. 

 

Miranda

 

I agree that the best programs are pricey, but I think the OP is likely to need a few different programs over the years as her dd grows and so this is not as much of an issue as it would be if she were choosing a language for a high school aged kid.

 

If it were me, I would spend the kindergarten year learning whatever language I chose on my own, and then introduce it to my child the next year, as I continued to study to keep ahead.  That way you can get pronunciation and other tricky stuff down before you are teaching your dd, so you don't end up confusing and frustrating her.  

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#8 of 8 Old 06-14-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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I agree that the best programs are pricey, but I think the OP is likely to need a few different programs over the years as her dd grows and so this is not as much of an issue as it would be if she were choosing a language for a high school aged kid.

 

If it were me, I would spend the kindergarten year learning whatever language I chose on my own, and then introduce it to my child the next year, as I continued to study to keep ahead.  That way you can get pronunciation and other tricky stuff down before you are teaching your dd, so you don't end up confusing and frustrating her.  

Great idea!!! This is what I am now going to do. I planned to learn with my son.....


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