Teaching A Foreign Language

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I had a reader request information from me about teaching a foreign language to children. I know this is very anti-climatic, but I am not actively teaching a foreign language to my children.

If I knew a foreign language well enough, I would. My husband speaks Spanish fluently, and he often tells them what words mean in Spanish and talk to them in Spanish.

While I was growing up, I had a good friend whose father was from Venezuela. Her mother spoke Spanish very fluently. At home, they had days each week where the entire family only spoke Spanish. They also had days where they only spoke English. I believe they also had some formal lessons in each language. I think that is a great way to teach. A great way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.

So, the basics of this post are this. If you have the ability or resources to teach your children a foreign language, do it! I think it is a wonderful thing to do.


Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Camilla
    March 8, 2010 / 6:34 PM

    I speak Dutch to my children at home because I'm a native speaker(but not always in company, because my husband's family thinks it's rude–they don't understand it). My oldest son is now 21 months old and understands everything I say, and says a few things in Dutch. He is also very proficient at English, probably more so than Dutch because he is more immersed in the English environment. It is important to me that my children understand their mother's native tongue. I would love for them to have some formal learning in it, but unless I do it myself this isn't possible. What I'd like to say is; there are many different ways of teaching your children a foreign language, but ALL of them are good as far as I know!

  2. trishconway
    March 8, 2010 / 7:44 PM

    I think that teaching a child a second language as they grow up is such a gift! One that I wish I could give my children, but unfortunately it isn't going to happen. 🙂 I did learn in my child development and education classes that young children learn languages MUCH more easily that older children and MUCH MUCH more easily than adults. So the time to start teaching a child a second language is right away. My sister-in-law is Taiwanese and what she and my BIL plan on doing is this: she will speak to their child(ren) in Chinese and he will speak to them in English. They speak to one another in both English and Chinese, so I am sure this arrangement will be quite fluid. But that is their basic plan, and I think it's so great that their child(ren) will grow up to be bilingual!

  3. Kristin
    March 8, 2010 / 8:00 PM

    I've heard that if their are two languages in the home having each parent speak one of the languages all the time (with natural exceptions) is a great way to teach them. I only wish my husband would do it!

  4. the Shipe's
    March 9, 2010 / 1:21 AM

    I wish that I was able to speak another language fluently. My grandma is Japanese & she sometimes spoke to me & my cousins, but not often enough for anything to stick. My friend started to have her children play Rosetta Stone when they began kindergarten. That's what I plan to do. It wont be as great as if I spoke fluently, but I'm already doing Rosetta Stone, so hopefully by then we can interact in french.

  5. The Cernas
    March 9, 2010 / 1:55 PM

    We are missionaries, and speak only English in the home. Since we are immersed in the Spanish culture and language, the children are naturally learning it by living here. So we are focusing on English at home, Spanish outside of the home. The opposite worked for my husband and his family in the States. They spoke Spanish at home, and learned English from friends, school, and just by living in the States.

  6. Plowmanators
    March 22, 2010 / 6:30 PM

    I appreciate all of you sharing your thoughts and experiences on the topic! I have also read and heard that children learn foreign languages easiest at younger ages.

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