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Homeschool Instruction and Tutoring

Homeschooling: Do I Need to Speak Spanish to Teach It?

The answer, fortunately, is NO! I've spoken with countless homeschool moms and even the occasional homeschooling dad, all of whom were actively teaching their kids Spanish both at home and in coop programs.

Sometimes people hesitate because they think "well how can I teach a subject that I am clueless about?" Others think that not having any idea about the pronunciation and accents will hinder their ability to effectively teach Spanish. But there are many ways to work around these issues - and a creative & resourceful parent can definitely teach their children everything from grammar & geography to correct pronunciation.

Your role as the teacher is to organize & generate enthusiasm for Spanish, while the materials you choose can do the actual teaching of the language itself. Aside from just using a standard curriculum, here are some different strategies that can help:

1- Make Spanish FUN! Instead of associating language learning with memorizing boring verb tables, instead begin by listening to fun songs in Spanish or by watching a kids video.

2- DVDs can help! Even some cartoon DVDs like Shrek & Sponge Bob Squarepants can have Spanish dubbing and/or subtitles. If it's a movie they've already seen, many of the words will be obvious. If you are listening to a movie in Spanish, go ahead and turn on the English subtitles - that can help them learn the Spanish words quicker. You don't need to watch entire movies at a time - try just 10 minutes at a time, then spend some time talking about key words the kids have just heard.

3- USE the internet! There are soooo many free audio resources for kids online - it's amazing. Try the Cartoon Network, Latin America - where they can access flash games, audio, video, & cartoons in Spanish. No English,....but kids are good at figuring things out when presented in such a fun way.

For older kids: don't forget about the news online, where you have access to text, audio, and video in Spanish. There zillions of news sites in languages other than English - some of the best are the BBC Spanish News, Video & Audio and the Multilingual Books Spanish radio page.

4- USE MUSIC! I can't overstate the importance of using music to teach your children languages. Music integrates right and left brain learning, and helps them achieve a better accent, and teaches patterns of the language that make learning much easier. Once again - you can use the internet radios to find music in your target language, or even visit the local library to see if there's anything you like. Since I'm an "all digital" kind of gal, I would recommend Apple's iTunes Online Music Store - where you can listen to 30 seconds of any Spanish song before downloading it for a buck. If you try to stick with popular songs, you should have no trouble finding copies of the lyrics online - just do a Google search. And don't worry about the kids trying to learn the entire song, just key words will work fine. You can check out my guide to using songs in the classroom.

Some fun products w/ Spanish songs are Musical Spanish, the Penton Overseas program Lyric Language, Ms Lilys Spanish Sing Along, and Viva la Música.

5- Learn with your Child! This is one of the most effective strategies possible: make Spanish learning a family activity rather than just a subject to get a passing grade in. Try having 1 night a week where you cook a food from a country that speaks Spanish - and make a rule that during dinner, NO ENGLISH can be spoken! Even if you guys only have basic words to communicate with, you'll have lots of fun and surely a few laughs trying to get through dinner communicating with them. Show your kids what the whole point of language learning is: to communicate with others who speak that language. Experiments with simulated immersion will go a long way towards helping them understand the value of learning the language to begin with.


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