Traveling is an incredible way to bring learning to life. Although we enjoy the geography and history studies we complete at home, we believe there are many more lessons to be learned about a place when you can walk through the streets of a city, visit famous historical landmarks, and talk to people from different parts of the country (or the world).
Our children share our love of exploration and travel therefore the trips we take as a family are often “educational vacations”. We have intentionally traveled to many places within the US that offer a link to our country’s history such as New York, City, Washington DC, Williamsburg/Jamestown, Atlanta, San Francisco, and many other cities.
As our children are growing older and learning more about world history they are ready to move beyond our borders. They have asked repeatedly if we can plan a family trip to Europe. My older son’s priority list includes visiting places of historical significance to World War II, while my younger son has a broader focus — he is more interested in a leisurely visit through several different counties to better understand the day-to-day lives of the people and the culture.
Several months ago we sat down as a family to talk about our goals and plans for learning and travel for the next couple of years. The kids immediately asked if we could finally talk about putting a trip to Europe on the long-term plan. Although we still have a good bit of work to do to make such a trip a reality, we agreed to set a family goal to take a trip to England and Germany in 2016.
I asked both of my children to begin researching the areas and thinking about the places they would like to visit (a wonderful tie-in to our current Geography lessons!). After a few weeks of research my younger son came to me and said that in addition to planning where we would visit in Germany, he thought it was essential that he begin to learn the German language.
As a bit of background, we have spent a lot of time studying middle/high school level Geography this past year and my son’s favorite aspect of our lessons has been “human geography”. He especially enjoys learning about culture, food, language, architecture, etc. With this in mind he believes it is important to no only locate “points of interests” on a map, but to also learn as much about the people and the customs of any place we decide to visit.
I thought this was a wonderful idea!
Why We Selected an Online Foreign Language Course
With my son’s new goal to learn the German language in mind we began our search for a foreign language program that would meet his learning styles and interests. I remember my high school German class (complete with boring flashcards and memorization drills) and knew we needed to find something much different for my creative, extravert son!
Not only does he want to learn the language, but he also wants to learn about the culture, therefore it was important to find a program that offered more than just language instruction. Did such a program exist? I started to do some research to find out.
After a few months of examining several options were given the opportunity to explore the Middlebury digital world language course for middle school students. We decided on this program because the online lessons use a variety of activities to introduce German words, phrases, grammar, and interesting information about the German culture!
I received access to Middlebury Interactive Languages for free and was also compensated for my time. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.
Some of my son’s favorite activities include:
- videos introducing elements of the German culture – my son’s favorite videos so far are about the Burg Eltz castle and Berlin
- reading, writing, matching, photos, and fill-in-the-blank exercises to learn new language concepts
- “conversation stations”
- a wide variety of age appropriate, creative activities such as a reading passage from a letter and translating a joke
Because my son finds this program interesting, easy to navigate, engaging, and informative he actually takes the initiative to work on his lessons each day. He says that he feels like he is getting a guided tour and preview of a country he plans to visit some day. This level of self-directed learning is pretty amazing because my son is usually quite the procrastinator!
When my son completes his lessons he is excited to share with me what he has learned…he is also usually amazing at how many of the words I can actually remember from my high school German classes so many years ago,
To help reinforce his learning and enthusiasm we also give him a chance to practice his new language skills when we visit Epcot. Recently we walked through the shops in the Germany Pavilion and he was quite impressed with himself when he realized how many German words he’s already learned!
We are still in the early stages of planning our future trip but at least we are making progress in an area very important to my son. He is thrilled to be working on his foreign language study and, thanks to the many places he “visits” through his online studies, he is adding more points of interest to our future travel agenda. He is currently using the Middlebury Middle School German 1 course. The great news is that he can continue to build his language skills by completing the Middle School German 2 course and then moving into the high school level courses. We are looking forward to having him serve as a fabulous tour guide when we make our trip!
Wondering if Middlebury World Language Courses Might be a Fit for Your Child?
Even if you aren’t planning a trip to another country your child may have his or her own reason why he or she would like to study a second language. If you are looking for a program that includes language study as well as broader information about the people who speak that language, you might want to investigate the digital programs offered by Middlebury Interactive Languages.
The Middlebury programs are available for all grade levels, and for a variety of different languages, including:
Take a minute to watch this brief video for a nice overview of how these program help children learn a second language:
Middlebury is giving away ten one semester courses!
The winner can choose the language and level perfect for their child. (This excludes AP courses and is applicable to courses as independent study without the support of a teacher.) The value is $119 per semester. All courses are digital, so no shipping is needed, and the giveaway is open to anyone in the world!
If you are interested in the program, using the code HomeSchoolFirst10 gives homeschool families 10% off their initial order.
To learn more about the importance of learning a second language, be sure to follow Middlebury Interactive Languages:
- Twitter: @middinteractive * Note – Middlebury will be featured in a Twitter party on Oct. 9, 2014 – Please join us!
- Google Plus
And please don’t miss the Google+ iHomeschool Network Hangout on Oct. 16 when we’ll talk about teaching foreign languages in homeschool!