Here’s a simple planning process that you can use to help you support your children’s language learning with music. I’ve given you a snapshot of just one week here, so as to not overwhelm you.
- Pick a single album to use as your primary learning tool. If you need suggestions, I have some of our family’s favorite Spanish language albums in my resource library, and I’ll be sharing even MORE recommendations for Spanish and Portuguese learners later this week! French learning families can also take a look at thislist of songs from Mama Lisa.
- Choose one song to focus on for the week. You can feel free to listen to the album as many times as you like, but a single song will provide plenty of learning material for a week, so don’t feel the need to focus on more than that.
- Print the lyrics—you’ll want them as a reference tool. If you have readers, don’t hesitate to share these with them—they’ll aid significantly in boosting your children's comprehension (even in the target language).
- Have your children actively listen to the song at least once per day. My always-moving, somewhat crazy kids listen best when they are a captive audience—as in literally captive, strapped into their carseats. For that reason, we do most of our Portuguese music study in the car, and it works great for us. If you have older kids or kids of many ages, you could make listening to the song a part of your morning basket routine, or have kids listen to it after lunch, perhaps while drawing or doing something with their hands. The key is to give them quiet time to absorb the language—so try to keep things otherwise quiet while they’re doing this kind of listening. However, there’s one important exception here: singing along! Because singing along will help your children learn the grammar structures, vocabulary, and even pronunciation that’s featured in the song, you should encourage it as much as possible!
- Try to play the album at other times as well, to give kids additional exposure. Play the album when you’re making dinner, folding laundry, or doing chores, and your kids might just end up memorizing all of the other songs as well!
- If possible, find a YouTube video of the song and watch it alongside your kids. Since visuals can help your child understand what they’re hearing, it’s worth doing a 30-second search to see if the song you’re focusing on has a (kid-appropriate) video to accompany it. You can watch this in lieu of or in addition to the above routine.
- Once your kids have listened to the song consistently for a week, you have two choices: let it go or do some extension activities. Yep—letting it go is a valid option! If you are regularly listening to foreign language music in your home, your kids will learn from it, regardless of whether or not you provide extension activities for them. This is definitely the strategy that I would take for younger kids (ages 6 and under), who learn languages best in a natural, immersive environment, rather than through direct instruction. If you’d like to do some extension activities with your kids, however, here are a three quick ideas that you can run with: for beginners, challenge your child to sing the whole song by him/herself; for intermediate learners, create a set of flashcards based on new vocabulary from the song; for advanced learners, have your child write sample sentences usingthose new vocabulary words.
If this seems like too much to implement in your homeschool right now, don’t worry! There are a number of homeschool language curricula that include music as a teaching tool. Here’s a quick list provided in alphabetical order—and if you’re interested in learning more about any of these, you can find more detailed descriptions in my Complete Homeschool Spanish Curriculum Round-Up, Complete Homeschool French Curriculum Round-Up, and Complete Homeschool Latin Curriculum Round-Up.
For Preschoolers and Elementary-Aged Students:
- French for Children (Classical Academic Press)
- Latina Christiana (Memoria Press)
- Le Français Facile (The Easy French)
- Song School Latin and Song School Spanish (Classical Academic Press)
- Spanish for Children (Classical Academic Press)
- Whistlefritz Spanish (Whistlefritz)
- Whistlefritz French (Whistlefritz)
For Middle and High School Students:
- First Start French (Memoria Press)
I’ve been spending some time with a number of these curricula, so you can look out for reviews (and giveaways!) in the next few weeks—stay tuned!
If you’re using music to support language learning in your homeschool, share your strategies here—or join us over in the Language Learning At Home Facebookgroup, where we are sharing our favorite albums for learning different languages.