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Two languages at once in middle school


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We ditched Latin, but I wanted to get back to it for my oldest.  However, my husband thinks Spanish would be the most useful for the kids.  I got an email with a review of a new middle school Spanish curriculum, Vamos, and it looks so great and colorful.  

Has anyone tried to do two languages at once? Quite frankly, I think I'd get confused.  I am working on French with my daughter, which is what I studied in school.

Some say you cannot be classical without Latin, and I get that.  But I do see how practical it would be to learn Spanish. Maybe it is this way everywhere, but we have a growing Spanish-speaking population.  

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Posted (edited)

Based on the difficulties you were undergoing just 2 months ago from your posts in Feb/Mar, in which it sounded like you felt your DC were "behind" and that "classical" was not working for your family... ONE foreign language would be plenty for next year, and there would be no need for it to be Latin, if "classical" isn't working for you.

Also, unless you are fluent in a foreign language, it is extremely difficult to do a good job of teaching it to one's children, unless you're committed to learning alongside. And it doesn't sound like that is the place you are in at the moment.

So, maybe even better: skip foreign language entirely this next year, IF what your DS really needs is that time that would be spent on foreign language, to be spent on getting a very solid foundation in whatever Math and/or English Language Arts that he is currently weak in -- writing, spelling, grammar, reading-that-is-moving-into-beginning-literature...

Just a thought. BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family.

Edited by Lori D.
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We studied Spanish in a natural language learning fashion starting in Kindergarten. We added Latin and did a formal study of it from 4-7. In 6th we added German at an easy beginner pace. My takeaways were that 1) we used a different approach for each language, partly for ease and partly to minimize confusion, 2) starting points needed to be staggered by a few years, and 3) there is a time limit. There are just so many hours in a day if we wanted to keep up with 3 languages, we had to take time from something else. For us, once we had a few years of Latin we were ready to move on to modern world languages.

There was an old thread debating the usefulness of Latin vs modern languages. Tldr: modern languages do all the same things and have more immediate use.

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Agreeing with Lori D.  If he does no foreign language this year, it won't hurt him.  You can pick it up as an absolute beginner in high school.  If he gets further behind in math or language arts skills, it will be much harder to complete work at a high school level when the time comes.  I remember your post from a few months ago when things were difficult and would encourage you to plan a lighter year that you can confidently complete.

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48 minutes ago, Ting Tang said:

My plan is to outsource quite a bit next year. I think this will help me! I have decided I cannot teach him everything anymore… otherwise, it’s back to school. 

Have you had experience and success with outsourced classes with this kiddo?

Not to be a Debby Downer, but my experience with outsourced classes, especially with middle schoolers, is that they are not all sunshine and rainbows. For us, they have often led to stress, conflict, shouting, arguments over what the teacher meant by "short answers" and whether that would necessitate capital letters, lackluster effort, missing assignments, scant learning, and complete apathy (from some of us 😉) about poor or failing grades.

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Posted (edited)

Just from my own experience from raising/homeschooling 2 boys, and having a high percentage of boys in my middle and high school homeschool co-op classes (a form of outsourcing):

Age 12-15 is when boys' brains tend to be eaten by hormones, and their *ability* to stay focused and use executive functioning skills is at an all-time low. Not to mention that also for many boys, *interest* in formal academics and "sitting in a seat to do school" drops to virtually zero.

Outsourcing, especially if it is online, really requires a student to be:
- self-motivated
- diligent
- and skilled in time management as well as solo study skills
All of which is exactly the opposite of many 12-15yo boys... That is such a hard place to be when a 12yo can't/won't work independently OR for (or with) mom. 😢

Unsolicited opinion alert 😉

Back to school may work. But from reading many posts about those who have had children return to school... it also may end up just shifting the conflicts you have with this child from during homeschooling hours in the day -- to the evening, as you are required to oversee him getting homework and projects completed. Plus the stress of getting him up early and to school, WITH the work so that he actually hands it in, rather than as all too often happens, all the homework just drifts down into the bottom of the backpack and the hormone-eaten brain has no clue what happened to it, much less what is required for the next day's homework...

It sometimes takes several years of being in a school system, coupled with getting some physical, hormonal, and brain maturity, before some boys can turn the corner. Similar to above poster, I'm not trying to be a "downer", and I really DO wish the best for you all. But I would definitely make sure to have a realistic picture of how things may play out, whether outsourcing to online, or sending this child to school -- that this may be more of a "you're being a pill" growth period that may be a long slog for all of you to get through.

If you are a person of faith [and if not, then please disregard the following]:
This would be the time to especially be in prayer for insight as to what to do, plus wisdom and patience for yourself, and then for attitude of the child. Plus, there may be a need for changes in lifestyle -- reduction of screen-time, daily aerobic exercise and and physically challenging himself, group activities that encourage character-building and leadership/responsibility, regular time with adult men of good character to help guide him into virtues and what it means to be a good man, etc. This is definitely the age that many boys pull away from moms and are trying to figure out how to "be a man" and need those good male role models in their lives.

Again, just my unsolicited 2 cents worth. Wishing you all the best!

Edited by Lori D.
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1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

Back to school may work. But from reading many posts about those who have had children return to school... it also may end up just shifting the conflicts you have with this child from during homeschooling hours in the day -- to the evening, as you are required to oversee him getting homework and projects completed. Plus the stress of getting him up early and to school, WITH the work so that he actually hands it in, rather than as all too often happens, all the homework just drifts down into the bottom of the backpack and the hormone-eaten brain has no clue what happened to it, much less what is required for the next day's homework...

For what it's worth, this has not been my experience at all with public middle school or high school here.

Our district has the philosophy of all work being done in class (except small amounts of homework in AP classes or for very occasional projects in other classes). In 6th and 7th grade, my kiddo had, maybe, 15 minutes of homework a week, and that was an optional online vocabulary game that earned him points to use in class. All homework, writing, projects, studying, etc is done during class time...that does not mean he actually does it all and gets it turned in, but they also have "flex time" each morning where teachers poke at kids who have missing work to try to get it done.

So, Ting Tang, it might be worth a trip to your middle school to get a better feel for what that experience would actually be like. Here, it is nothing like what I was expecting from when I was in middle school.

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It's common in Europe to study two foreign languages in middle and high school. Usually one is started first, then a second is added after the kids have a couple of years of the first under their belt. By 8th grade everyone at my middle school in France was taking two foreign laguages--most commonly English and one other--German, Spanish and Russian were all available.

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Yes it's possible. Yes some countries have their entire student body learn multiple foreign languages. From what I gather though, these students would be getting in-person classes on these languages and from a decent speaker of the language. Also, they may be in closer proximity to people who speak these foreign languages so it's abundantly clear that learning these foreign languages are useful. 

To me learning more than one foreign language has never made learning a foreign language harder. Both for languages that are mostly dissimilar and for languages with more similarity. I've dabbled (taken random classes) in several foreign languages. It's just takes effort to learn languages. 

I think you can require your student to take one foreign language and then they decide which one. If they want to pursue more than one, then I'd let them but I'm not sure I'd force it. (Some exceptions would be student wants to take foreign language A but foreign language B is required to speak to relatives or you are surrounded by foreign language B.) 

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Sure. Mine studies French with me and German with CLRC class in middle school. He loved that class. 
We outsourced science and literature (CLRC courses) successfully in middle school and had no issues with kids organizing and getting the work done. 

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Thank you all again! No, we haven’t outsourced much. He did not like Mr. D math, but they all liked Science Mom a lot. So, I’d like to use more video (versus live online) options next year, as long as they are more engaging. I felt foreign language was a requirement by this age. As for returning to school, yes, I wouldn’t want different problems, but I do feel my load is heavy at times and don’t want to shortchange anyone out of an education. It’s lighter now as we are wrapping up our year. He still says he prefers to be homeschooled, so I need to make sure I make good choices. I haven’t purchased a thing for next year. 

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42 minutes ago, Ting Tang said:

Thank you all again! No, we haven’t outsourced much. He did not like Mr. D math, but they all liked Science Mom a lot. So, I’d like to use more video (versus live online) options next year, as long as they are more engaging. I felt foreign language was a requirement by this age. As for returning to school, yes, I wouldn’t want different problems, but I do feel my load is heavy at times and don’t want to shortchange anyone out of an education. It’s lighter now as we are wrapping up our year. He still says he prefers to be homeschooled, so I need to make sure I make good choices. I haven’t purchased a thing for next year. 

Has his attitude toward school changed? Does he putting effort into mastering topics? 

There is no reason to add a 2nd language if it will be a source of conflict or stress. Latin is not some magical language that opens up doors otherwise closed. I have kids who really enjoyed learning Latin, but they loved puzzles and learning in general. Latin has a lot o complex patterns.

If you want to do Spanish, do Spanish. Wait until your homeschool is functioning in a way that is a blessing to your home life, not undermining it. If at that pt you want to add another language, add it. But there us zero reason to until you have everything under control functioning the way you want.

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FYI from Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise The Well Trained Mind 4th Edition pg 486

Quote

A caveat: Not all students will have the inclination of time to study two foreign languages, particularly during middle school. At least some foreign language learning is highly beneficial during the logic-stage years, but students who struggle with language arts or who are heavily invested in STEM subjects and projects, will find the prospect of two languages overwhelming. ...

If you have the book it discusses this topic for 1.5-2 pages.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

Has his attitude toward school changed? Does he putting effort into mastering topics? 

There is no reason to add a 2nd language if it will be a source of conflict or stress. Latin is not some magical language that opens up doors otherwise closed. I have kids who really enjoyed learning Latin, but they loved puzzles and learning in general. Latin has a lot o complex patterns.

If you want to do Spanish, do Spanish. Wait until your homeschool is functioning in a way that is a blessing to your home life, not undermining it. If at that pt you want to add another language, add it. But there us zero reason to until you have everything under control functioning the way you want.

I wouldn't say his attitude has drastically changed...  He enjoys reading history books immensely.  Math has been a struggle, but he has been doing better with the Learn Math Fast books.  He is a very bright child, and when he used to get tested, he tested very high (I haven't tested the kids recently, though).  But he'd rather go work on the farm than do subjects with output such as writing.  He did say he thought Spanish would be more useful, and my husband said he could help more with that since he studied it.  I liked how this new Spanish curriculum looked--it had QR codes for pronunciation.  I really do love Classical subjects, and I've read how Latin is so super duper important to it, as if we can't do classical studies without it.  

Edited by Ting Tang
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My kids mostly dislike online group classes but they work well with 1-on-1 tutoring online. We've used preply.com for a whole variety of subjects, but language tutoring is what is easiest to find there. You get a native speaker and personal attention and the cost is often similar to online group classes. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Ting Tang said:

.  I really do love Classical subjects, and I've read how Latin is so super duper important to it, as if we can't do classical studies without it.  

Studying Latin and reading classic literature do not create a classical education.  I would avoid getting hung up on labels. Unless the goal is to read literature in the original Latin (which the vast majority of neo-classical educators do not pursue), there is nothing about how the WTM approaches education that requires mastery of Latin.

Edited by 8filltheheart
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In addition to tutoring, my kids have used Fluenz and also Mango Languages--that one is often free through public libraries. I wouldn't rely on those kinds of programs exclusively for language instruction, you really need some kind of interaction with a real person, but they make a good add-on to tutoring or a class.

In addition to Preply, we have sometimes found tutors on Outschool or iTalki (iTalki is good for less common languages--one of my kids chose to study Swahili!)

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I did 2 foreign languages (+ one local language additional to English, but I was fluent) in middle school. For me, the adding of additional foreign languages makes sense with the plan to stretch bright, motivated, linguistically inclined kids, who (because of the school/syllabus) cannot be accelerated toward fluency. I ended up with excellent academic grades, but limited ability in two languages. In a homeschool setting, I think the time could be better spent achieving meaningful, motivating fluency in one language.

That said, if Latin is no fun, and Spanish might be motivating and fun - I’d ask your kid. Being able to read simplified news articles, watch shows, understand conversations, read about a topic of personal interest in the language is highly motivating - and maybe easier in Spanish than Latin.

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Thank you all so much for weighing in on this.  My thoughts about him for next year is that I definitely need to do more outsourcing--so as I am coming up with ideas, that is my plan to make it a bit easier on me.  We probably won't do many live classes per se, but I am really looking for options with feedback/correspondence.  Or self-paced, that sort of thing.  On many classical forums, they do say Latin is a must.  My husband is not a huge proponent of Latin, no matter how much I regurgitate from better sources, lol.  But I also see how motivated students would do better with it at this age.  The Spanish curriculum looked fun...  

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Posted (edited)

Instead of reading forums, I suggest researching classical ed before the current neoclassical movement. The neoclassical pedagogy is a shell game. It purports providing a classical ed. In reality, it has morphed classical ed into a list of subjects with Latin and classical lit as the classic claim. Latin and Greek were part of a classical ed but to be used for reading classical works in Latin and Greek. Just learning Latin bc it was taught to the well educated of the past does not make the education classical. (Some people suggest cyclical history is part of a classical education. That makes me smile.)

FWIW, if you read the Ratio Studiorum which is available online for free, you can see how the Jesuits taught in the middle ages. It was very much a different sort of education

 

Edited by 8filltheheart
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I'm not on the "Latin is a must" bandwagon.

Unless you want to be a classical or medieval humanities scholar, there is no overwhelming benefit from being able to read Latin works in the original. You can get 90+% of whatever value there is in those texts by reading them in translation, while investing less than 1% of the time that would be required to study the language to a point of reading fluency.

The real benefit of Latin to many is the depth that recognizing Latin roots lends to English vocabulary, but word root study is sufficient for that--you really don't need the full-blown language with its complicated grammar.

As for grammar, some proponents of Latin tout near-magical benefits from study of Latin grammar.  That in my opinion is nonsense. Yes, studying Latin grammar can give a student insight into the grammatical workings of other Indo-European languages--but so can studying those languages directly! With the added benefit of being able to communicate in a living language with living people! Studying Latin grammar can be a way to exercise logical thinking--but so can studying math or logic or science or the grammar of other languages. 

I value languages mostly because I value communication and intercultural understanding. I've dabbled in Latin since I was a teenager, but it is far from the top of my linguistic priorities.

If a student wants to study Latin, I would support that. I'm always in favor of supporting interests. If a family values Latin, that's perfectly fine too. There's a lot of Latin out there even still in our modern world, and of course lots of it in history--just a couple of weeks ago I watched a livestream of a graduation ceremony for a European university that was entirely in Latin! There is value in almost anything we choose to study.

But Latin isn't a requirement for a good education unless you are living in the Ancient Roman Empire or in medieval-through-early-modern Europe where it was the language of religion and of scholarship. 

The language that is most required for educated people in the contemporary world is English, and I often think of how fortunate my family is to have that as our first language! Leaves so much time free to study other things--including other languages 😁 

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1 hour ago, 8filltheheart said:

Instead of reading forums, I suggest researching classical ed before the current neoclassical movement. The neoclassical pedagogy is a shell game. It purports providing a classical ed. In reality, it has morphed classical ed into a list of subjects with Latin and classical lit as the classic claim. Latin and Greek were part of a classical ed but to be used for reading classical works in Latin and Greek. Just learning Latin bc it was taught to the well educated of the past does not make the education classical. (Some people suggest cyclical history is part of a classical education. That makes me smile.)

FWIW, if you read the Ratio Studiorum which is available online for free, you can see how the Jesuits taught in the middle ages. It was very much a different sort of education

 

Yes, I thought the goal of learning Latin was to read the great works, and I agree that the mental exercise is worthwhile, still.  I will check out your resource!

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1 hour ago, maize said:

I'm not on the "Latin is a must" bandwagon.

Unless you want to be a classical or medieval humanities scholar, there is no overwhelming benefit from being able to read Latin works in the original. You can get 90+% of whatever value there is in those texts by reading them in translation, while investing less than 1% of the time that would be required to study the language to a point of reading fluency.

The real benefit of Latin to many is the depth that recognizing Latin roots lends to English vocabulary, but word root study is sufficient for that--you really don't need the full-blown language with its complicated grammar.

As for grammar, some proponents of Latin tout near-magical benefits from study of Latin grammar.  That in my opinion is nonsense. Yes, studying Latin grammar can give a student insight into the grammatical workings of other Indo-European languages--but so can studying those languages directly! With the added benefit of being able to communicate in a living language with living people! Studying Latin grammar can be a way to exercise logical thinking--but so can studying math or logic or science or the grammar of other languages. 

I value languages mostly because I value communication and intercultural understanding. I've dabbled in Latin since I was a teenager, but it is far from the top of my linguistic priorities.

If a student wants to study Latin, I would support that. I'm always in favor of supporting interests. If a family values Latin, that's perfectly fine too. There's a lot of Latin out there even still in our modern world, and of course lots of it in history--just a couple of weeks ago I watched a livestream of a graduation ceremony for a European university that was entirely in Latin! There is value in almost anything we choose to study.

But Latin isn't a requirement for a good education unless you are living in the Ancient Roman Empire or in medieval-through-early-modern Europe where it was the language of religion and of scholarship. 

The language that is most required for educated people in the contemporary world is English, and I often think of how fortunate my family is to have that as our first language! Leaves so much time free to study other things--including other languages 😁 

Thank you so much!  Well, the MP crowd is definitely that bandwagon, lol.  

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Just now, Ting Tang said:

Thank you so much!  Well, the MP crowd is definitely that bandwagon, lol.  

The irony is you cant get further from a classical pedagogy than workbooks. It is the exact opposite of what classical education entailed. MP is modern education pedagogy with classical wrapping. 

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