Have you considered learning a foreign language with your kids? What’s holding you back? (Let me guess: could it be that perhaps you’d need to learn a foreign language first- then teach it to your kids?)
I’m laughing right along with you here, because I tell you what: although I married a man whose native language is French, I don’t speak a word of it; therefore, my kids have not grown up bilingual.
I find it pretty disappointing, to say the least- so I wanted to be sure we did something about it. With me spending the most time with the kids while my husband is away at work, I just haven’t found the time, nor the right curriculum to achieve true language immersion.
Recently my daughter enrolled in a French course with italki-a foreign language tutoring service, offered completely online.
How we use italki
italki is very simple to use. After we created an account, we selected from a variety of language instructors. They’re categorized by professional lessons or informal tutoring- and, of course, by language.
I specifically selected a French instructor from France because I wanted someone who had the native tongue and accent- which, by the way, is another great option. In italki, you’ll be able to see a list of instructors based on what they teach, what language they speak, and also where they are from. This helped me a lot as I didn’t want to hire someone who was born and raised in America or China, for example, but learned to speak French while in college. I preferred someone familiar enough with French culture and lifestyle and linguistics because they have lived there most of their lives.
Once we selected our teacher and course, we set up our meeting time with the instructor (all through the italki dashboard) and after payment, we were set to go. Payments are made using credits, and each tutor charges a different amount of credits. (I suppose this is due to currency conversion rates.) Anyway, you load up your account with the proper amount of credits, pay for your sessions and you’re all set.
Our first meeting was a bit rough in the beginning because our selected instructor’s style was very fast-paced, and remember, this was complete French immersion. My daughter rarely had time to catch her thoughts before she was forced to speak and think in French, almost right away. As the minutes passed and I was afraid we’d have to postpone lessons, Ny (my daughter) began to relax a bit and ease into the program and her instructor sprinkled a few english phrases here and there to allow her ample time to catch up.
Each student’s experience with italki will be different because of the many instructors’ different teaching styles and methods.
I, for one, was happy for the total language immersion our instructor gave us. By the end of our 4 weeks together my daughter had a better grasp on some key french greeting phrases and was piecing together sentences using some basic vocabulary and a few pronouns and verbs.
Because our chosen instructor knew that she would be teaching a child, she provided lessons specifically for a child. She used fun worksheets and provided extra practice and links to resources in between practice sessions.
Also you’ll be surprised at the number of language options available. Whether you want to learn more mainstream languages like Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, or Russian- or you prefer less-known languages such as Bengali, Aafrikans, or Icelandic- the options are there and available at italki.
Additionally, if you’d just like to be part of a language learning community, italki offers free language practice by exchanging your time teaching your native language in order to learn a foreign language.
Just like with most social media networks, you can “follow” others, but you can also keep a virtual notebook, as well as answer and ask a language question to the community.
Recently on-demand 24/7 tutoring has been implemented. I don’t know much about this aspect of italki but there are already quite a few tutors available for this service as well.
It’s a thumbs-up for italki
Overall, we enjoyed the service provided during our 5 weeks with italki and we plan to credit our account again very soon for additional french lessons. Only, this time it won’t only be for my daughter, but for me, too! In fact, I can’t wait to begin having a somewhat fluent conversation with my relatives in France, and I think my mother in law would be extremely happy to know I can finally understand.
So, how about you?
Are you considering learning a foreign language with your kids? What has been working for you so far?
Be sure to check out italki’s foreign language tutoring service, follow them on Google+ and like them on Facebook. If you have any questions in particular about italki, you can contact Lamar who is extremely easy to work with and will answer all your questions.