How To Teach A Foreign Language Even If You Don’t Speak It {Guest Post}

The following post titled How to Teach a Foreign Language Even if You Don’t Speak It, is a guest post by Adriana Zoder.  I was so excited when she reached out to me to guest post on my blog.  I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did!  Oh and we’ve used Middlebury Interactive Languages before and LOVED it too!


Because I was raised in Europe, Romania to be exact, foreign languages do not seem like such a big deal to me. Granted, I have been told that I have natural abilities in that realm, but most people around me learned French and English to a certain degree. If nothing else, because these two languages were school subjects for us since the fifth grade all the way through our senior year in high school. Also, because most of the movies and TV shows we watched were in English (or French or Italian or Spanish or German). Daily exposure to other sounds de-mystified them.


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That’s the secret to learning or teaching a foreign language – daily exposure to those sounds. So here’s a seven-step strategy for you to teach a foreign language in your homeschool even if you can’t remember any of the Spanish – or whatever foreign language – you “learned” in school:

1. Find a radio station online in your target language. For us with French, it’s Radio France Internationale. Turn it on for 10 minutes a day. Even if you don’t understand what in the world they are saying, your ears will start getting used to the sounds and flow and rhythm of that language. Obviously, your children must be listening to this. They are the ones that should learn it, but don’t exclude yourself. You may be surprised how you will be able to distinguish certain words after a month or so of radio listening, especially if you add.

2. YouTube videos – in the target language, of course. We watch Caillou, mostly. But there is also Léo et Popi and Tchoupi et Doudou. Not only do we get all sorts of French vocabulary, as the episodes are organized along specific themes (feelings, Christmas, friendship etc), but we also watch very polite family interactions. Let’s face it, Caillou’s parents are perfect. Their responses to Caillou’s childish actions and reactions should be gathered in a parenting book. Just saying.



If you don’t know of a show in your target language, just Google “videos in German” or whatever language you want to teach your children. My advice would be no more than 30 minutes per day of videos, no matter how quality the content is. Children must learn skills in the real world and their brains must actively engage in 3D experiences. Screen time should be minimized.



3. All this exposure to the sounds and rhythm of a foreign language would not take you far unless you had a curriculum that steadily and systematically taught you vocabulary and grammar. I wrote about how we use PetraLingua and Middlebury Interactive Languages in French, but both of these websites offer many other languages. Recently, I discovered DuoLingo, which is a free app for your phone or tablet or computer. No excuses anymore, right? It’s free.


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My kids learning French with Middlebury Interactive Languages


4. Look for play groups in your target language. Google, your local library and your local newspaper should help you locate them. Some areas will be better equipped at this than others. If nothing else, start your own. Here’s how I started my own French Play Group. Sure, I am fluent in French, but you can also do this with a local foreign language teacher or with youtube videos and an interactive language curriculum. Especially for beginners, it should be easy for you as the coordinator to keep track of their answers. Besides, many of these online curricula are self-correcting.

5. Join your local chapter of Alliance Française if your target language is French. We did and the kids enjoyed greeting people in French. Even if you don’t get anything out of it, just the fact that there is a place where your children can go and it is considered normal to say “bonjour” and “au revoir” to a real person will boost their confidence. For any other language, I would call or visit the website of an embassy of the country where they speak that language. Ask for similar organizations which work on promoting their language and culture.

6. Search your local homeschool co-ops. Sometimes there are foreign language courses offered there and some of the teachers may be native speakers. For those of you living in or near Blount County in Tennessee, the Blount Home Education Association offers French language teaching on different levels by a French national.

7. If you are fluent or at least advanced in a foreign language, read to your children in that language. Start with picture books even if your children are older. It will be short and sweet and the pictures will help with translation, which makes the work less tedious and boosts confidence. Schoenhof’s, Harvard University’s foreign language bookstore, offers free shipping on orders over $50. If you don’t know what titles to get, call them or join their Facebook page and ask. They have very friendly staff.

8. Invest in a foreign language magazine. The Bayard-Milan representative for the US will help you select an appropriate title for your children’s ages. They have magazines in French, German and Spanish.

Here’s hoping you got inspired to learn a foreign language while teaching it to your children!




Adriana Zoder is a homeschooling mom of two, living in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. She has published two books on Amazon, 101 Tips for Preschool at Home and 101 Tips for Kindergarten at Home(reviews of these coming soon by me–Erin!!). Get Adriana’s FREE ebook 21 Days to Jumpstart Your Homeschool at her award-winning blog,

Homeschool Online Language with Mango Languages #hsreviews

Mango Languages Review

Recently members of the TOS homeschool review crew(including us) got to use a new homeschool online language learning site.  By language we’re talking foreign languages.  Mango Languages is an online site that allows the learner to have access to learning any language of their choosing from Biblical Hebrew to Arabic to German to what they call Irish(Gaelic).  The Mango Homeschool Edition is what we were given access to.  We received a full years access for up to 5 family members.  

The program is suitable for most ages, though it is recommended that they be age 6 or over to start the course.  Being able to read is definitely a plus, but even those that cannot yet read can still get something from the curriculum.  My three year olds learned along with us just by sitting and listening.  I was shocked when they’d talk in one of the languages we were studying because I thought they were in their own world coloring or “reading” books while their siblings studied and instead they were really paying enough attention that they could say the word correctly and use it correctly.  

Mango Languages Review
The subscription that we received is for a full year of the program for 5 members of the household.  If paying monthly it is $58 or it is $325 for a year.  You can purchase individually for one person or for any number up to 5.  After 5 it will be a special rate and you will have to contact to find out what the group rate will be for the number you have.  If you want just one person it is $18 for one month or $125 for a year subscription.

The homeschool edition of Mango Languages is still fairly new and has a few kinks that are being worked out.  We are very happy with what we have been able to use.  I personally, am super pleased with the number of languages that are offered.  Some languages only have one section of study under them while others have several.  

Mango Languages Review
Our main language that all of our family members who were reviewing used was German.  I took one semester of German in college and really enjoyed it.  I also believe that my children should become fluent in several languages and German is one that I have wanted us to work on.  We have done some in the past with a video series directed to children so they knew a few words for certain colors and play things that children would need to know, but this went more in depth and provided more of the “what a tourist should know” feel to it I think.  It was preparing you to go somewhere where you would need to be able to communicate in German.

The German course has three journeys.  Each journey is like a new section or semester if you will.  In Journey 1 you learn how to: 

            • greetings, gratitude, and goodbye
            • inquiring about someone’s nationality
            • asking what language they speak
            • names and introductions
            • getting around
            • shopping and payment
            • drinks and dining
            • numbers and currency
            • getting help
            • asking for clarification

As you can see, those are all things that would be exceedingly helpful if you found yourself in Germany and needed to be able to communicate for yourself with the local population.  

Everything is online for the homeschool online language program.  You go online, you listen, you speak, you are questioned and you answer.  But, you can also have access to some study guide type files that are available in pdf that you can print off to help you practice away from the computer.  Not all languages will have these files though.  German is one of the languages that does.  It has a course guide for each of the three journeys so you have something that you can print off and look over when you can’t be on the computer studying.  

Mango Languages Review
When you sign up for a language you are given a passport(the kids loved this idea).  On the home page of this passport you can see how many native speakers of the language there are, where they are located, and also some things that you will learn along the way.  These are things that will help you such as a voice comparison tool, phonetic spelling on demand(this is pretty neat and pops up when you hover your mouse over things), etc.  We really enjoyed the phonetic spelling when we were working on some Biblical Hebrew as their characters are so very foreign to us.

I’ve told you some about the program and some of the things we enjoyed with it.  We are using this program on a daily basis.  I believe that with any language program the more you use it the more you will learn.  The more you are able to immerse yourself in it whether it’s just listening to someone speak in the language while you are coloring(like my littles) or actually focusing on it, the more you hear it the easier it will become.  We did have a week where we took completely off from all school due to a fire in our attic and we had to redo some of our lessons because my children had forgotten.  The more time you go without speaking or hearing a language, the more of that language you will lose.  I know they say it comes back to you, and it will, but only when you are totally immersing again.   Don’t forget though that not all of the languages are created equally.  Some only have one journey while others have three or more.  And if you’re just wanting some fun. . . . they even have pirate!

We plan to continue using the curriculum for the rest of our year and I can see us repurchasing another year subscription as this is a wonderful resource for us.  We have access to over 50 languages and can do it on our time whenever we have time.  If you’re skeptical you can choose a language and try the first lesson for free.  If you’re not a homeschooler, don’t worry!  They also have other programs that you can use including a library version, personal, and K-12.  Choose what works for you and enjoy.

If you’d like to see what other TOS crew members though head on over to the Main Crew Blog  and click on the graphic at the bottom to view more reviews.  We all reviewed the same homeschool online language program but were allowed to choose our own languages so if you’re not interested in German check out what everyone else studied!