Thursday, March 12, 2015

Homeschooling in Three Languages

When I tell people that we homeschool in three languages, I generally get two questions – Why? and How?


How and why we choose to homeschool in 3 languages - Arabic, French and English - From Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis.


Let’s start with why?  For three years, we lived in Morocco, where my husband is originally from.  While we were there, the older two boys attended school in French and Arabic.  When we arrived they were 3 and 7 and spoke very, very little of either language. We dropped them into a Moroccan school and they learned by emersion. By the time we left Morocco three years later, they were 7 and 10 and could understand, speak, read and write both languages on grade level.  Although we were ready to leave Morocco, we weren’t ready for them to stop learning these languages, which was a major reason we chose to homeschool.  We wanted them to have time for all of their languages, rather than have them do additional homework after a full school day and begin to resent the languages, or worse simply forget them.


Now, how?  How do you learn in three languages?  Pretty much the same way you learn in one.  Our home language has always been English, so that continues to be the language we start explaining a topic in.  This is the reason that we are working on our Science and Social Studies through our Year Long Country Study in English.  However, every week the boys work on reading, writing, grammar, and math in all three of their languages.  We have played with a variety of formats and found that we most like doing one subject at a time in all three languages, giving the boys a chance to make connections between all three of their languages. 


For example, on Friday we work on Grammar and the kids have learned things like a verb is a verb in any languages, but that the verbs simply conjugate differently depending on the language.  Monday is Math day.The boys work on Math in English, French and Arabic.  They tend to learn the concepts in English, but work in the textbooks that we brought back with us from Morocco and on websites that my husband has found, to explore the same concepts in French and Arabic.  This gives them time to work on the vocabulary and the word problems in all of their languages, and further cement their knowledge.  Additionally, some problems – especially Long Subtraction and Long Division are presented differently in different countries and this is reflected in their textbooks.  (I have made a resource to help explain the different ways you can do Extended Operations, which you can download for free from my TeachersPayTeachers store.)


In addition to general curriculum in French and Arabic, the boys work on French in DuoLingo and Arabic using a variety of iPad apps to keep building their vocabulary.  Overall, we spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting and thinking deeply about the topics at hand.  Three languages can make for a full day, but the benefits our kids are getting are undeniable and the more connections they make the longer they remember things.  This situation is definitely best for our family right now.



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