Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaching Children a Second Language - Products We Have Tried

Okay, as promised, here's a smattering of German language sets I've used with my children. These have done pretty well for what I wanted, which was vocabulary, and pronunciation aids. I'll try to get around to reviewing my favorites of the bunch, but I just kind of wanted to give an idea of where we've been on our language journey.

This isn't everything we've tried, just the ones I remembered, as I scanned through Amazon (where most of the pictures came from). And, many we've tried in German, Spanish, French, and sometimes even Japanese, and Hebrew, with some success. To these, I've added my own flash cards, and games, as well as some worksheets from online.

After working through all of what I have pictured here, multiple times, over the years (with the exception of Tell Me More German - we're still working through that one), I can offer a few tips:

  • First of all, none of these work for bringing children to fluency in German, or any other language.

  • Almost any of them can be used for teaching very simple basics in German (colors/numbers/animals/hello/thank you/etc), especially if you use them all together.

  • It's never a good idea to purchase an audio, or video program unless you have listened to it first - sound quality varies greatly from product to product, and it really matters.

  • If you are buying online, read all the parent reviews before you purchase. Pay attention to how long the reviewer has had the program. Did they just get it, and love it, or have they been using it for years, with good success? Listen to the people who have been using a product for years.

  • Just because a product seems very good in one language, does not mean it will be as good in another language. For instance, I happen to think Dr Blairs' program is much better in Japanese, than in German. And, while we enjoyed the French Learn in Your Car for Kids, the German version, is not one of our favorites.

  • Use all of the material available from your library, before you buy anything. Despite great promises, they all work about the same.

I should add too, that although I've had pretty good success in teaching the children beginning vocabulary, up to 500 words, or so, in several languages, I've found the minute (and I do mean minute), we stop working on them on a daily basis, they forget almost everything.

And, the most frustrating part of trying to teach the children a second language, from an American perspective, is the lack of availability of intermediate material, and written exercises actually geared to children.

Coming up next in this series (probably) - My Language Background - just in case you're thinking you have to be fluent in a language, before you introduce your children to it...well, of course it would help, but it isn't necessary. Some of the best success I've had with the children, has been when I've been learning right beside them.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Valerie @ Inner Child Fun said...

What a great resource this post is... thank you!!!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Whoa, my head is spinning. Thanks for setting proper expectations about how far this multitude of products can take us. We certainly have variety of books and movies in German (and Russian) at home, but they are not designed for second language specifically. It's good to know that there are so many products out there that are specifically designed to teach German.