Learning Languages

Homeschool Foreign Languages

Do you plan on having your children study a foreign language in your homeschool? I’m learning Japanese, and it’s made me look back over my years of homeschooling and our attempts at learning different languages. I think learning a different language is an important skill that is often given a back burner in homeschools, but deserves a 2nd look. A foreign language can open all sorts of doors – from future employment opportunities, ministry (for those of you who are Christians), and just making friends in a variety of situations. It also helps a student become more aware of how our own language is constructed and opens doors to understanding other people and cultures.

Teach me Japanese songsWhen the kids were really small I intentionally exposed them to different languages via our local radio stations (we would listen to Asian broadcasts for hours sometimes, even though we didn’t understand a word), and I also checked out free resources from our local library like the Teach Me series. These softcover books come with a CD of songs (used to be cassettes at that time, lol) that mix English and another language via cheerful songs. We also used to check out Muzzy materials, which are now available online.

As my children got older, we took language study more seriously. All of my kids studied Latin at one time or another. I feel it gave them a better understanding of English grammar, and they were able to tackle difficult vocabulary more easily. My daughter studied German, my oldest son dabbled in Chinese (and studied German as well), and my youngest decided to learn a bit of Spanish. In college my daughter started learning Japanese on her own. Long story short…she is now married to a Japanese native, lives in Japan, and is quite fluent in that language! (Click here if you want to read her blog about living in Japan!) She’s the reason why I’m currently studying Japanese. I want to be able to talk to her mother-in-law (who is a wonderfully sweet woman) and to share in my future grandchildren’s Japanese heritage. They will be raised as little polyglots (or at least they will be bilingual)! I also just like learning something new. 😉 That’s the homeschooler in me that I hope never dies!

In recent years, the resources for learning a different language have exploded. I wish I had all of the current resources at my disposal when I was homeschooling. There are countless YouTube channels and videos, tons of interactive websites, games, lessons, and more that just didn’t exist even several years ago! If you want to learn a language, now is a GREAT time to do so.

When you are first starting out, unless you are already fluent in another language, the choices can be intimidating. I encourage you to take your time and look through the options. Every family is different, and what may work for one may not work for another. Many full language programs can be expensive, so you may want to explore free trials and check your local library before committing to one particular method or resource. Try out some free apps too and get a feel for what you will be studying! You may find a combination of resources works the best. It does for me!! I find it really helpful to use a many different things – many of them which are free or low cost (because that best matches my budget, lol). Make sure you check out workbooks and books on grammar available at your local library (or Amazon) to help you practice the nuances of the language you might not pick up otherwise or to supplement the program you choose. I’m using the Japanese from Zero workbooks!

You may wonder which language to commit to. Some families choose a language from their family history. That’s why my daughter learned German. I used to be fairly fluent in German as a child, since my family lived in Germany for awhile and my father’s family is German. Working with German was a no-brainer. I already had it somewhere in my brain, so I felt more confident in helping my daughter learn it.  My son chose Chinese because he was interested in the military. My other son chose Spanish because he was interested in a law enforcement career, and the state we lived in encouraged officers to have at least a working understanding of that language. Your choice for a language may come from some other motivation, but I encourage you to allow your child to explore several different languages and choose one s/he is most motivated to learn. There is nothing like a natural interest to spark the drive that is necessary to successfully assimilate another tongue!

Back when we were starting out, Rosetta Stone was one of the only interactive resources for learning another language, but there are many more available today. Here is a list of resources for you to explore. Make sure to check out the apps that go along with many of these sites that will allow you (or your student) to learn on a tablet or phone in addition to the computer! My favorites have a heart next to them.

  • Rosetta Stone – Rosetta Stone has been around for a long time. They’ve updated their programs since we used them years ago. My kids enjoyed Rosetta Stone, but never progressed very far in the program(s). They have a free demo you can try. Some libraries also have a subscription. There are quite a few languages to choose from. Despite their popularity, they are not one of my favorite resources. They may be just right for you and yours, though! 😉
  •  ❤ Mango Languages  – Mango is an online, interactive program that  features over 70 world languages! Many libraries have a subscription to the website, which means it could be a FREE resource! I’m currently using Mango to supplement my Japanese. I enjoy the lessons and find that they are pretty effective.
  • The Learnables – My son and I used The Learnables to study Spanish. I wish I could afford their Japanese books because I retained their lessons easily. Sadly, it appears they are no longer keeping their Japanese program updated.  The lessons come with consumable books and CD’s. Some of their lessons have been updated to use on the computer. The downside to The Learnables (in my opinion) is that their materials are expensive.
  • Classical Academic Press – This publisher has resources for learning Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish. We used them for some of their Latin & Greek resources and the free language learning games they offer at Headventure Land.
  • YouTube – Do a search for the language your student is interested in. You will likely find multiple YouTube channels that feature free lessons, as well as songs and other helpful language learning videos. I like finding Japanese cartoons made for little kids that teach numbers and characters (Hiragana)! While you probably can’t rely on YouTube for an entire language program, you’ll probably be able to find all sorts of fun, supplementary material! Don’t forget to look for movies and video clips of TV shows and such in the language of your choice! You’ll be surprised at how much you can pick up from these types of resources.
  • MIT Open Courseware has free language courses featured at MIT. These courses aren’t the easiest to navigate or use and you will need to purchase textbooks from Amazon or another similar resource (for most of the courses). Still, this could be a good resource for a very motivated learner.
  • edX has a variety of free courses supported by different universities. Many of the courses are self-paced and have videos. While the courses are free, you can pay to get a certificate of completion.
  • ❤ Duolingo – This website has all sorts of languages to learn, including Klingon, lol…The lessons are interactive with audio and activities designed to help build retention. I’m using it for Japanese!
  • Babbel currently has 14 different languages to learn with audio and is interactive  with speech technology.
  • Powerspeak (I believe they used to be called Power-Glide.) Some of my kids used the Power Glide program back when it used to be a book and audio lessons (which are still available from Rainbow Resource at the time of this writing). It wasn’t a hit for us, but the program appears to have changed and is offered online at this time with the option to have a certified teacher’s support.
  • ❤ Bussu has free and premium lessons. The free lessons have audio and are interactive!
  • ❤ Memrise has lots of free courses for languages and other subjects. I’m using it on a daily basis to practice reading Japanese. The flashcard format with memes to help you remember the content is easy to use and many courses have audio.
  • Rocket Languages has interactive audio lessons but not a lot of language choices. I took a look at the free trial and while I like the audio, I don’t like how it has you type in answers from the very first lesson. My own personal preference is to focus more on listening, speaking, and reading vs. writing.
  • PBS Learning Media has lots of free video courses for various languages. Many of the programs also come with printable student and teacher checklists that accompany the videos. Here’s an example of one of their courses (which I have bookmarked for myself!): Irasshai – Welcome to Japanese
  • ❤ Pimsleur is a listening and speaking only course with over 50 different languages to choose from. I’m using Pimsleur as part of my learning Japanese arsenal (thanks to my local library staff who purchased it per my request). Pimsleur is very effective (at least for me) and is designed around scientifically proven principles. You only have to spend 30 minutes a day to learn a new language! Click here to get up to 40% off your first purchase! You may want to explore the site as there is a free lesson in a language of your choice as well as information on the Pimsleur Method and why it works. They also have a money-back guarantee!
  • Little Pim – Do you have a little learner who would like to learn a language? Little Pim is designed for the under 6 crowd with videos available for download or streaming!
  • Muzzy is also a language program designed for younger children through teens. I used it when the kids were little, and they really liked it.
  • Amazon – There are tons of books, workbooks, and other resources to help you learn languages (and don’t forget to check Audible)! When we were learning languages I liked to purchase young children’s books (especially familiar stories) to help us pick up easy vocabulary words and simple grammar.

Learning a foreign language is something that anyone can do with a bit of motivation. You may be surprised at what paths it opens up for your students in the future! I never would have imagined that all of the language exposure I naturally included in our lives and homeschool would be so important to my daughter’s future! I believe her early exposure helped develop her current gift for and interest in languages! I think it was also a great thing for both of my sons, even if they didn’t choose to pursue learning more as adults, because studying a language was good “brain food”! Learning a new language has been shown to help make a brain more efficient, integrated, and increases gray matter. There are lots of scientific studies showing how learning a language is good for any age…it can even potentially delay Alzheimer’s! The scientific reasons for studying a language are beyond the scope of this post, but if you are interested or need extra convincing, you can always google up some articles.

I hope this post help someone out there thinking about foreign language study. Share what languages you (or your students) are learning via the comments! I would also love to know about your favorite programs, apps, and websites, and will update this post when I discover new, great resources!

Guest Hollow’s High School American History Year 1 is finished!

American history curriculum

I’m so thrilled to announce that Guest Hollow’s High School American History Year 1 is now ready for purchase! If you have a middle-schooler, you’ll be happy to know we’ve also included instructions and book substitutions for this age group in our curriculum guide!

I started working on this project in February… and during these last 5 months I’ve read/previewed 170 books (many of which were thrown into the reject pile!), watched well over 400 online videos (and culled out the best), visited hundreds of websites, and created a 194-page workbook/study guide with custom artwork and maps! This has been a nearly all-consuming project with a lot of very late nights. I’m excited to get it into your hands in time for the 2018-2019 school year! Good thing I can read fast, or I wouldn’t have made the deadline! 😉

This is the American history program *I* always wished I had when I was homeschooling! The homeschooling moms who helped me proofread were so enthusiastic after taking a look:

“…this is an AMAZING curriculum! I love how well rounded it is. Not one sided. Very clearly laid out. That is SO hard to find in a history curriculum. Everyone is going to love it. I’ve searched high and low for a great history curriculum for high school.”

“I loved it SO much! I think my favorite part is the workbook…it’s meaty without being overbearing. And I love the project elements. It isn’t too crafty or elementary-ish. You have made it to being my #1 curriculum publisher!”

I’ve endeavored to create a history curriculum that is meaty, that will get students enthusiastic about the topics, and that is designed for them to not only understand the material, but to RETAIN it. I also split American history into 2 years as I believe one year is NOT enough time to study all of the important events and people. Our history curriculum doesn’t crush everything into one year, and it doesn’t skimp on important issues.

One of the things I think students will love are the book choices. Take a look at the resources list and you’ll see tons of graphic novels as well as lots of fresh, new book choices. When creating this curriculum, I wanted to avoid scheduling the titles you seem to see in every homeschooling American history curriculum. I’ve taught a lot of American history over the years. Let’s just say I got tired of the “same ol’ stuff.” I searched high-and-low for the BEST books. These are books that are going to engage your students. Even reluctant readers will likely love many of the choices.

American history curriculum books

There’s another benefit to many of my book picks. Lots of them are available for FREE, and many are also are available via audio books. This will help your budget and will also give you options for students who have difficulty reading (or just need a change)!

I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect spine book. The one I chose was written by real history professors & historians (not a textbook committee) and specifically avoids the “politically correct” type of viewpoint. I wanted a balanced, academic book and that’s exactly what I believe I found. Here’s a quote from a review that sums it up terrifically:

“This book is certainly meant to be an alternative to the Leftist propaganda by Howard Zinn and others that passes for school textbooks these days but it does not insult our intelligence by substituting Rightist propaganda for Leftist propaganda. If it had been conservative propaganda, for instance, we might expect it to stress the central importance of the Pilgrim fathers and their Christian faith in the American founding. And double that if you are aware that Schweikart is a committed Christian. In fact, however, the book glides over this small group of blown-off-course religious renegades as the relatively minor event in the British settlement of North America that it was. The Mayflower Pilgrims get in fact less than two pages out of 928. Even Africans arrived in North America before the Pilgrims! If any of that jars you, you need to read the book.” Quote from John Ray in his review of A Patriot’s History of the United States

Students will also love the recipes in the schedule! Our Chemistry in the Kitchen Curriculum is a HUGE hit with students. I’ve received so many comments from parents who tell me how their students LOVE the time spent cooking and creating great foods of all kinds. American history students will get to learn about historical methods of making & preserving foods and also hone some old-fashioned cooking skills to boot!

I could go on and on about the curriculum and how amazing it is, so I’ll stop here (or I’d take up about 10 more pages, lol), but I invite you to look at the curriculum FAQ:

http://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/history2/highschool_american/index.html

…and also to look at the books and resources list to see some of the great things that are scheduled in:

http://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/history2/highschool_american/american_history_books.html

Here’s a 2-day coupon celebrating our American History Curriculum’s release:

 

 

 

 

If you plan on purchasing the curriculum, this is a great way to save a few $$!

Guest Hollow’s High School American History Year 1 is a labor of love, and we think it’s going to be one of our biggest hits yet. We invite you to join the Guest Hollow family and see why both parents and students LOVE our curricula!

We also invite everyone to post your comments and questions and to join our High School History Curriculum User’s Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1020183814779100/

Happy Homeschooling with Guest Hollow!

This week’s discussion question…

This week’s discussion: Would you allow your high schooler to play an M rated video game that is history based (like Assassins Creed III)? Click the link if you aren’t familiar with the game. It’s set during the American Revolution and is fairly well-researched history-wise.

https://www.cnn.com/2012/10/19/tech/gaming-gadgets/assassins-creed-3-history/index.html

Our family had policies that varied over the years with different children. We had games we would not allow in the house and others we didn’t mind (example: our daughter enjoyed playing Age of Empires). We never forbid games outright (unless one of our kids “needed” a break from technology *cough* or was grounded, lol). I enjoy gaming and sometimes would play with the kids (or would hog a game on my own PC, lol).

This conversation isn’t to judge anyone, but to get a discussion going. 😉 What is your family’s policy about video games? What exceptions do you make (if any)?

This post is also cross-posted on the Guest Hollow Facebook page, the Guest Hollow High School Curriculum group and the Guest Hollow High School History Group. 🙂 Feel free to comment here (via the comments) or one the above linked FB pages.

The biggest homeschool sale of the year!

The biggest homeschool sale of the year has started! Go now – Save up to 95% on your favorite publishers. Hurry, the sale ends 5/14/18!

When I was homeschooling, I was always on the lookout for a great deal. The Build Your Bundle Sale is one of those things I would have LOVED due to the huge savings.

This year we’ve entered in Guest Hollow’s Language Arts into the sale, which can be found in the Elementary Bundle #3:

https://buildyourbundle.idevaffiliate.com/228-11-1-27.html

 

There are also other great bundles for every age group!

Have a middle schooler or high school student? Check out these 2 bundles geared for upper grades. Full of history, math, literature, language arts, science, Bible and more – all for 89% off!

https://buildyourbundle.idevaffiliate.com/228-12-3-22.html

The Thematics Units Bundle is the biggest one and was super popular last year. You will find a plethora of awesome resources for your homeschool: science, history, geography, language arts, math, writing prompts, a book report pack, several holiday lapbooks with study guides, and more!

Save 95% and spend only $10 bucks!

https://buildyourbundle.idevaffiliate.com/228-13-3-20.html

There are tons of other great bundles. Check them out here:

https://buildyourbundle.idevaffiliate.com/228.html

Don’t forget, the sale ends on the 14th! You won’t find the same items offered next year, due to the way the sale is structured. Grab the goodies now at the discounted price while you can! 

Cathy Duffy Reviewed Beowulf’s Grammar!

Cathy Duffy reviewed Beowulf’s Grammar!

https://cathyduffyreviews.com/homeschool-reviews-core-curricula/composition-and-grammar/ungraded-multi-level-resources-grammar/beowulf-s-grammar

“Author Jennifer Guest’s goal is to make grammar more enjoyable for children to learn. For Beowulf’s Grammar, she has created a family that is featured throughout the book: siblings Abigail, Henry, and Grace plus the family dog, Beowulf. Lessons incorporate sentences and stories involving the family, all within the context of normal family life. The content is much more relatable for homeschooling families than the typical content of grammar books designed for classroom use. In addition, cartoons, colorful illustrations, fun graphics, cut-and-paste activities, games, puzzles, drawing activities, and occasional silliness make the course more appealing than traditional grammar courses.”

…so says the venerable Cathy Duffy Cathy who is best known as a curriculum specialist. Ms Duffy is the author of the two-volume Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manual where she researched curriculum and methodology for all subjects and all grade levels.

We are very pleased that Cathy said so many nice things about Beowulf’s Grammar and the attendant curriculum and workbook.

Please check out Ms. Duffy’s review as linked below, and remember, for a few more days you can still take advantage of our special Easter discount by using our 15 percent off coupon for purchases of anything in the GuestHollow Store (http://guesthollow.com/store/)! The coupon code, (which will be good ONLY for this week), is:

easterdiscount2018

If you enter “ easterdiscount2018 “ when doing a checkout on the GuestHollow store anytime during the next week, you will receive a 15 percent discount on your ENTIRE order!

Check out Duffy’s review below!

https://cathyduffyreviews.com/homeschool-reviews-core-curricula/composition-and-grammar/ungraded-multi-level-resources-grammar/beowulf-s-grammar

We’re having an Easter giveaway!

We’re having an Easter giveaway! Leave a comment to be entered. One winner will be chosen and notified on Monday, April 2nd. The winner gets to choose one item of his/her choice from our store (or can choose to get a coupon code for the up-and-coming high school American history curriculum)! Happy Easter!
P.S. The artwork is my daughter as a fairy-tale character. 

A book for the up-and-coming American history curriculum is on sale!

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal is one of the books that is going to be scheduled in our up-and-coming high school American history curriculum! Get it while it’s on sale (Kindle version) for 2.99!
News of the World
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. News of the World is a National Book Award Finalist.
Click here to purchase it on Amazon! You don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. The Kindle app is available on iOS, Android, Mac & PC. Click here to access the app and more info!  I’ll be watching the Kindle deals to see if any of the other American history books pop up and posting about them here, if they do!

 

More updates!

The Science of Seasons Curriculum and Little Otter’s Anatomy have both been updated. We’ve updated the schedule links and replaced some books. We’ve also created printable book and materials lists for planning and shopping purposes due to popular request! 

Did you know the Science of Seasons curriculum is a prime example of our teaching philosophy? It’s cross-curricular (covers more than just science topics) and is full of great books, literature, activities, and videos. Check out the topics list:

http://www.guesthollow.com/…/sc…/seasons/seasons_topics.html

Since it’s just 14 weeks long, it makes a great “light” program to do over the summer, or to jump in and start if your younger kids need something a bit refreshing to liven up the last of the school year.

Little Otter’s Anatomy is a gentle program for preschoolers through 2nd grade that tracks with our other two anatomy programs, so you can have ALL ages studying the same topics. It also makes a great introduction to science for little learners with topics they can relate to.

If you purchased one of these programs within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:

http://guesthollow.com/store/help-section/

If you use the online version of the schedules, you don’t need to do anything as those are always kept up to date!

We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!

Botany has been updated!

 

We’ve just updated the Botany Curriculum Schedule.

botany curriculum

 
 
Links in the schedule have been updated, and we’ve scheduled in a newer version of the Worms Eat My Garbage book. We’ve also replaced the Plant Propagator’s Bible with the book: American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques. We’ve removed some that are no longer available new: Molds, Mushroom & Other Fungi and the book Skunk Cabbage, Sundew Plants, and Strangler Figs: And 18 More of the Strangest Plants on Earth. We’ve also added a printable book and resource list for planning purposes with a nifty shopping checklist.
 
Did you know our botany curriculum features tons of great recipes for budding student chefs? Students also study bees and worms and are encouraged to create nature journals.
 
If you purchased this program within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:
 
We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!

Biology has been updated!

The High School Biology Curriculum is now updated! We’ve fixed any broken links and also updated the scheduled Biology Coloring Book pages with the new 2nd edition. There is also a printable book and materials list to help you with your planning and shopping.
 
If you purchased this program within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:
 
http://guesthollow.com/store/help-section/
 
The online biology textbook also now has comments enabled, so students can report broken links or leave a comment about the material they are studying. Comments must be approved, so there will be no “spam” comments.
 
We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!