Aug 012013

Wondering about Foreign Language Courses for Homeschooling High School?

International culture and foreign Language Studies are an important part of a homeschool education. Most schools also require foreign language courses in order for a child to graduate from high school.

For kids with learning disabilities, learning a foreign language can be a true challenge.  It helps a LOT if you can use foreign language courses with audio-visual teaching, and which do not require extreme precision in order to progress.

For homeschooling high school, the following foreign language courses are frequently used by moms of Learning Abled Kids:

Duolingo – This is a free, online program.  I’m using it myself!  The program does require a person is able to read English proficiently, as do most programs other than immersion programs.  I like the immediate feedback in Duolingo and the way that it provides corrective instruction when you miss an element. You need a microphone connected to your computer in order to practice the dictation within the program. As far as foreign language courses go, I love this one because it’s FREE!

PowerSpeak – is a paid, online program designed to provide a full high school language course of study.  The program is story-based, so it is great for kids with a narrative learning style.  It progresses using a mixed English and foreign language presentation, initially where a few words are in the foreign language and most are in English.  This allows the student to understand the foreign words in context.  As the program progresses, words are increasingly in the foreign language.  I will issue a caveat here: A certain student was able to figure out that if he used the right-click & back button on exams, he was able to go backwards and answer a question correctly right after it had been entered on a test and the correct answer was revealed.  This enabled him to make perfect grades on exams until he was caught!  After that, instruction was supervised, so if you have a clever, minimalist soul, you may want to monitor program use. 😉 Powerspeak is one of the most “natural” foreign language courses I’ve found since the teaching is story based.

Rosetta Stoneforeign language courses – Is available as a software program that you install on your computer OR as an online, anytime-anywhere learning solution. We used Rosetta Stone as part of our foreign language curriculum in addition to book-based programming. The Rosetta Stone platform is an immersion program where you begin by learning words as the associate with pictures of the objects or actions. The program moves from words to phrases, then full sentences. My boys have dyslexia and found Rosetta Stone to be highly frustrating due to their inability to remember the precise spellings of words and phrases as they were learning. There were points in the program where they got “stuck” (took a long time to complete a level) because Rosetta Stone is a mastery-based program that requires proficiency before progressing. Mastery-based programs are great, but can also be a point of frustration when a student has to repeat the same content over and over. Among foreign language courses that homeschoolers use, Rosetta is one of the most popular because it has EXCELLENT progress tracking and reporting. It’s not for every student though.

Cambridge Latin with eLearning DVDsLatin foreign language courses – The eLearning DVDs are difficult to come by, but I’ve seen them listed on Amazon and eBay. Cambridge Latin also has Audio CDs which are readily available. The eLearning DVD is an interactive program element that allows your student to test his Latin learning. It also has audio portions that will help your student with hearing and pronunciation. There are a LOT of Latin foreign language courses available, but this one is great with the eLearning DVD.

In today’s world-based society, you can actually have a lot of fun with foreign language courses by visiting various foreign language sites. One of the activities we enjoy is looking for familiar products on the Amazon sites in foreign countries. These can even be a great resource for homeschooling families abroad, where you can find books to use written in the native language for foreign language learning improvement.

Google Translator — Use this translator to convert to and from different languages with a simple cut and paste operation. This is a great tool for any child studying a foreign language when used in conjunction with foreign websites, or simply to check a child’s own translation.

To exercise your child’s foreign language reading skills, you can have them look up topics in the international Amazon sites below, then use the translator to see if his own translation is correct! We have a lot of fun trying to read the entries for different products, then seeing how well we have done! Of course, the English Canada and U.K. sites are English-based, but it is fun to see the differences in word usage.

You can also use these tools to look at and convert different world currencies. A great currency conversion tool is the **Yahoo Currency Converter. It is self-explanatory and very easy to use.