How to Use Pinterest for Homeschool Language Learning (Really!)

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Like many homeschool moms, when I’m looking for creative ideas for our homeschool, I often turn to Pinterest. I mean, it’s pretty much a busy mom’s dream. Where else can you easily find and organize ideas for make-ahead dinners, Poetry Teatimes, and math games—all in one place? 

Perhaps, like me, you’ve done your fair share of homeschool pinning. But have you ever tried using Pinterest for homeschool language learning? If you haven’t, well, today’s your day! I’ll walk you through all of the steps that you can use to help you collect do-able and age-appropriate learning ideas for your homeschool student. AND I’ll share some tips that I hope will help you actually follow through to use all of the great ideas that you collect—my greatest personal challenge in using Pinterest. 

But before I do, let me share just a few reasons why Pinterest can be an especially helpful tool for language learners: 

  • The organization of the boards keeps ideas (like vocabulary games) and information (like grammar rules) readily accessible, allowing you to reference it as needed, whether during an actual lesson or while you’re planning out your homeschool curriculum for the week (or month, or year). 
  • Pinterest’s visual nature may be especially effective for those children who learn best when they have can see images tied to words (note: this is actually recommended strategy for anyone learning a foreign language!). 
  • Pinterest is full of creative ideas shared by language teachers and by experienced homeschooling moms who have successfully taught foreign languages at home—ideas that we can all benefit from! 

So as you can see, while you may normally think of Pinterest as just another social media platform, when used intentionally, it can actually be a powerful tool for learning foreign languages at home. 

If you’d like to get started pinning homeschool foreign language learning ideas, here’s the simple three-step process that I suggest to help you find the right information and—this is key!—put it into use in your homeschool: 

    Step One: Organize and build your boards. 

    Step Two: Find pins that match your child’s language level and interests.  

    Step Three: Make a game plan to help you follow through. 

Need some more details? I've got them right here: 

Step One: Build your boards. 

No matter what language your child is using, you need to have boards that will help you organize all of the information that you’re collecting, so that it doesn’t become a jumbled, disorganized mess. In my experience, language learning resources on Pinterest tend to fall into a few different categories: cultural activities, enrichment activities, grammar reference tools, vocabulary reference tools, and grammar and vocabulary activities. Given that fact, it’s a pretty sure bet that you if you organize your boards according to those categories, they’ll be a handy reference tool for you later on. 

For a French learner, then, I might build six separate boards (with these sample Pin ideas): 

  • Cultural activities (learning about Francophone countries, food, and customs) 
  • Enrichment activities (television program suggestions, podcast recommendations in French) 
  • Grammar reference tools (verb conjugation lists, irregular verb charts) 
  • Grammar activities (games that you can play as a family, instructions for making visual flashcards)
  • Vocabulary reference tools (alphabet charts in French, maps of the French speaking world) 
  • Vocabulary activities (French BINGO, vocabulary charts) 

Depending on your unique homeschool situation, you might want to organize the information differently. A homeschooling family that uses a lot of unit studies, for example, might want to build a board specifically for “French anatomy vocabulary,” to go along with their study of the human body. Or a Charlotte Mason mom might build a “Spanish Nature Study” board in her list. If you are just starting teaching foreign languages to preschoolers, maybe you will focus on building just three boards  with activities and vocabulary that you can use in everyday life: for example, Italian music, chore and daily routine words in Italian, and Italian cooking ideas. 

Step Two: Find pins that match your child’s language level and interests. 

Once you have your boards organized and ready to go, it’s time to start filling them! 

I think that the biggest temptation with Pinterest is to pin all.the.ideas—even, sometimes, ideas that won’t actually be that helpful—which leads to a stressed out mama who feels like she isn’t doing enough. So, in order to help you find the best pins for your homeschool language learning—and maintain your sanity—I suggest using this process as you collect language learning pins: 

First, you might want to look around the new Language Learning At Home boards, where I’ve collected a whole bunch of excellent language learning pins for homeschoolers. I’ve specifically focused on key grammar concepts, basic vocabulary, and cultural learning for homeschoolers—and all of the activities that I’ve included can actually be done at home (meaning that they’re not intended for a classroom setting). My boards are growing every day, and so far, I have resources for: 

Second, use your board organization (maybe according to my suggestions above) to help guide your searches—in general, more specific searches are more useful. How broad your searches are will depend on your homeschool’s needs. If you took French in high school and want to start teaching it to your four-year-old, for example, you might do a broad search for “French vocabulary” or “French vocabulary preschool.” That will give you lots of different results, and it while it may take some time to wade through them, you’ll be able to build a pretty robust board from that search (and you may be surprised at how much of that vocabulary you remember!). On the other hand, if you have a middle schooler enrolled in a Spanish co-op class, you may want to use the syllabus provided by that class to guide your searches. Will your student be learning the present tense this semester? Search “Spanish present tense activities.” If he/she will be practicing Spanish travel vocabulary, do a specific search with that term: “Spanish travel vocabulary.” Pinterest will provide you with lots of relevant resources. 

Of course, if your child is studying a language independently or taking a class that doesn’t use a pre-determined syllabus, you may want to consult the materials that he or she is using to help you. Many language learning textbooks, for example, are organized by theme, so you may find the best Pinterest ideas by searching those terms: “Italian professions vocabulary” or “numbers in Latin” for example. 

Third, don’t forget to get your kids involved! Since Pinterest is such a visual medium, even non-readers can help you sort through the things that will be interesting for them. You’re more likely to have their enthusiastic participation if they help you collect ideas from the start, so I do recommend pulling them in, even for only a few minutes. Focusing on cultural activities for language learning can be a low-key way to do this—I don’t know too many kids who would be bored by browsing all of the amazing recipes that are available on Pinterest! And of course, if you have an older language learner, you can ask her what concepts she would most like to have more deliberate practice with and conduct your search accordingly. 

Finally, if you’d like some more help, here are some questions you can use to guide your Pinterest searches, along with some sample search wordings*: 

  • Is your child studying a particularly tricky grammar concept? You might search “subjunctive in Spanish” or “gender German nouns.” 
  • What vocabulary is your child currently reviewing? Some searches could be “French food vocabulary” or “German travel vocabulary.”
  • If your child just starting to learn a foreign language? Try a search for “introductions in Japanese” or “asking questions in German” or even “top travel phrases in Spanish” to start out. 
  • Does your child need more authentic exposure to the language to improve listening comprehension? Look for “children’s TV in Spanish” or “kids movies in French” to find suggestions. 
  • Does your child struggle with pronunciation? Search “pronunciation rules for Korean"
  • Is your child a visual learner? Look for “French irregular verbs” or “Spanish reflexive verbs” to find charts that will help!

*I actually ran all of these searches and found great materials, which I collected on my Language Learning At Home boards, so I promise that they work! 

Step Three: Make a game plan to help you follow through. 

Let’s face it: the most fun part of Pinterest are steps number one and two. When you’re in the “gathering information” stage, it feels like time is limitless. I start to think that I can do anything I pin….and that’s how I get to place where I have 55 recipes for Mexican food pinned and no real plan to cook any of them. 

So I have to remind myself: all of my Pinterest research is only valuable if I actually use the pins that I collect. Therefore, I'm trying—I admit that I'm not perfect about this yet—to actually schedule Pinterest finds into our homeschool schedule using Google Calendar. It's not very fancy—I just make an event and drop the Pin's URL into it—but it helps me plan ahead and puts everything in one place so that I can print and gather materials ahead of time. 

And that's it! If you've used Pinterest for your homeschool language learning, I'd love if you'd share any additional tricks that you have. Please leave us a comment so that we can learn from you!