Adding Mandarin has made things even more complicated than they were. Some would object that I shouldn’t add all these languages, especially when I’m not completely fluent in them myself (or in the case of Mandarin, not even past total beginner status). However I think that when the time is right for language learning, one must take advantage of that.
I’ve been wracking my brain on how I’m going to juggle all these languages and here’s the somewhat tentative plan that I’ve come up with.
English: I’m going to leave this up to the Husband and the environment. Family, friends, clerks at the store, they all speak English. I see no issue with letting them handle English. Also, whether we decide officially to homeschool or do public school (leaning back towards homeschooling now), school will be in English.
German: I will speak German to the kids and stop using English as a filler. I often switch back to English, in front of my in-laws, when we’re at the park, because I’ve been concerned that people will think it rude. Because of this, the kids’ German has been slipping so I’m going to get over it and just speak German.
Spanish: Entertainment (books, dvds, music) is easy to acquire in this language so I’m going to do it. I’m also going to teach them Spanish. Every day, for a half hour a day, we will actively practice Spanish. Reading in Spanish, talking in Spanish, playing games in Spanish, Rosetta Stone, etc.
Mandarin: This is the tricky one. I don’t know much Mandarin myself, though I’m learning as quickly as I can, so I have to leave this one up to external sources. Again, I fall back on entertainment. I’ll dvr Ni Hao and we’ll watch Mulan together. Five days a week we’ll do LiveMocha or Rosetta Stone for a half hour a day.
I’m resisting the temptation to introduce anymore languages to them until these have a more secure footing. I’m wanting to learn an African language myself and would love to have them learn Swahili or Amharic along with me. I also want them to learn French, Latin, Polish, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Hindi, Arabic, and American Sign Language.
I’ve put into Homeschool Tracker that Monday through Friday they have a half hour each of German and Spanish. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they have a half hour of Mandarin. It seems like a lot but we won’t sit down and do one and a half hours of language learning at a time, we’ll do each language at different times of the day.