Best Websites to Homeschool Foreign Language

About seven years ago, when it was time to decide on a curriculum for teaching a foreign language, we didn't have many good, affordable options. My Oldest wanted to learn Japanese, and many people recommended the popular curriculum that comes in the bright yellow box. At a local homeschool convention, we got a good price on this curriculum, but we ended up being disappointed.  

The good points: the package we purchased had two levels of Japanese. We thought it should fulfill the two-year high school foreign language requirement. The program was redesigned for homeschool; it easily allowed parents to check on progress and retention.

My son had already completed quite a bit of Japanese as self-taught, and after completing the first year of the program, (which was partly review for him), he was not pleased enough with the program to finish it. He went back to using resources on the internet that were more thorough and not as basic. His reasons: the program focused on memorizing sentences for conversation, and did not provide any teaching on grammar and sentence structure. Learning grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure was important because it is with those tools you can really use the language, instead of just memorizing words and sentences.  
The disappointing part was that we could not get any of our money back because the software is completely unsellable. Due to licensing, none of their products can be resold. Anywhere. This is a common complaint with this company, and they are not good at stating this policy upfront.  

This was a lesson for us: a curriculum isn't always necessary.  

Today, there are so many more foreign language resources online, either free or with a small subscription fee.

Is learning a language in high school really necessary? Even if your state doesn't require it, the benefits of a foreign language are great.  In fact, "students sharpen their minds as they learn how to read, speak, and write in a new language. Studies show there are many cognitive benefits to learning a language, such as increased memory, stronger mental agility, enhanced decision making, and improved multitasking skills. Because the brain is switching between two languages and receiving input in multiple forms, it's assessing the meaning in two ways and smoothing out complex patterns. This strengthens a student's ability to concentrate and filter information," say experts from Arizona State University.  

If your student is college-bound, having two years of a foreign language is often required, and it gives a foundation for the additional two years that will be required for a college bachelor's degree.  

But even if college is not in your teen's immediate future, learning a foreign language in high school gives them an advantage in the job market. For instance, in my state of Texas, approximately 30% of residents speak Spanish at home.  Students who know Spanish have an advantage if they can interact with Spanish speaking co-workers or customers. It gives them hands-on experience that is not often available in any classroom!


Don't give up on a foreign language option for your teen!  Before spending money on any foreign language curriculum, visit these websites to see the best of what is offered online.  

Online and available as an app, but has a nominal fee.  

Free online and on their app; perfect for younger students too, as it offers games to reinforce what they learn.  

Mango's online membership allows access to their entire online content and videos for learning.  However, check your local library to see if they subscribe to Mango.  If so, you can use your library card for free access instead of subscribing. 

Free and available as an app.  Memrise teaches real-life language content. 

If your student wants to learn Spanish as their foreign language requirement, check out these resources in a previous post, to learn Spanish for free. 

These websites will be useful for retaining language skills year-round, or if your teen takes a "gap year" between high school and college.  

Learn from me -- don't fall for the "bright yellow box" as a solution for high school foreign language curriculum!  

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