Frequently Asked Questions:
You will find here frequently asked questions by parents of second language learners.
Q: I studied a foreign language several years ago and I do not remember anything and did not like it then so much – how can I help my child now?
A: The most important thing is to leave behind your concerns and worries from previous bad experiences in foreign language learning. As your child embarks on his/her foreign language learning, it is a great opportunity to start over and begin to learn with your child! For example, letting your child teach you a bit of the language or asking him/her for some words/expressions is a great way to manifest your involvement and spark a new motivation for both you and your child.
Q: How can I find out what my child is studying in foreign language class?
A: Your child’s school may make available their curriculum for each subject directly on line. If not, get in touch with the foreign language teacher or the building principal to request a copy of the curriculum. A curriculum (also called a syllabus or program of study) will give you an outline of how the school year is divided into different topics and units developed in class.
Q: I would like my child to begin the study of a foreign language earlier but my district only offers foreign language in Junior High. What could I do?
A: First and foremost, work diligently to help in the development and implementation of a foreign language program on the elementary level, but consider other activities that will help nurture the development of such a program. Ask your district about possibilities to run an after school club or integrate foreign language activities in an existing elementary program. . If you know other parents feel the same way you do, perhaps you can gather a group and offer this suggestion to the school district. Also, the Internet offers a wide variety of interactive and fun resources for your child to start the learning of a foreign language; check the LINKS section of this web site.
Q: When will my child become proficient in the language he/she is studying?
A: Becoming fluent in a foreign language is NOT an overnight process and it will take some time, patience and work.
Just to give you an idea, after two years of a foreign language study a student should be able to know the basics for conversation in a variety of situations, such as ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions, purchasing items at a store, etc. You can check the Standards for foreign language studies on this web page as well as the ACTFL National Standards.
Q: If my school is not planning a trip overseas, should I think about sending my child to the country to improve his/her language skills? How do I do that?
A: There is nothing better than being immersed in the culture of the country where the foreign language is spoken – it is a unique and probably one of the best ways to learn the foreign language. Traveling as a family abroad or sending your child to a summer language camp could both be beneficial ways to improve language skills. There are however other possibilities to “travel” and “experience” the language and culture of the foreign language without having to leave the U.S. Inquire about events in your communities, international festivals, restaurants, foreign books, movies, international music, museum exhibits, language clubs, hosting a foreign student over the summer, etc.