Parlez Vous?: Finding Foreign Language Options

October 27–31, 2014   |   Vol. 121, Programs 21–25

Should your student learn a language? And if so, which one? This week on Home School Heartbeat, hear advice from homeschool moms, grads, and linguists who are fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Telugu, and more! “[Language] was kind of like a puzzle, and the reward for solving it was . . .the ability to understand the thoughts of people from a foreign culture.” — Ingrid Heidelberger

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Mike Smith: Our guest today is Diane Kummer, one of HSLDA’s high school consultants. Diane, thank you so much for joining us today!

Diane Kummer: Hi Mike, so glad to be with you!

Mike: Diane, some parents might be wondering if their student really needs to take a foreign language in high school. Why is it important for homeschoolers to learn a foreign language anyway?

Diane: Parents should check HSLDA’s website to see if their state even requires a foreign language. Most states don’t. However, I think that parents should consider teaching a foreign language for several reasons. Learning a foreign language is advantageous when traveling, or living in an area with many internationals. You know, foreign language is helpful when applying for certain jobs or serving in missions or charitable work.

Mike: Well what are some ways, Diane, that homeschool high schoolers can earn language credits?

Diane: Well, for college-bound students, a minimum of two years of the same foreign language is required by many colleges. But some colleges require more than two years. So be sure to check the college websites to which your teen may apply.

Mike: Well, Diane, what are some ways that homeschoolers can actually earn language credits?

Diane: Well, if teaching a foreign language makes you shudder—and it does most parents—there are options such as dual enrollment at community college, curriculum that includes DVD instruction, a private tutor perhaps, or even a local homeschool co-op class.

Mike: Well, Diane, thank you for being with us today. I’m sure our listeners will find your input very helpful.

Mike: Today on the program we have Dede Daoud, who emigrated from Lebanon in 1990. Dede, welcome to the program!

Dede Daoud: Thank you for having me.

Mike: Dede, tell us about teaching Arabic. As a native Arabic speaker yourself, how did you approach teaching it to your children? And how has it benefited them?

Dede: Well, Arabic is certainly a language that’s challenging, and I had to use unconventional approaches. Basically, I hadn’t just taught the language, but I also had my daughters immersed in the culture. For example, I had them translate Arabic songs, or translate a recipe and then fix a Lebanese dish.

As for how it benefited them, it mainly opened doors to a new culture, its ideas and its people. Like last time we visited Lebanon, my daughter had the opportunity to witness to my relatives. At the end, it’s a powerful tool to witness to the Arabs, whether they are here or abroad.

Mike: What a great testimony! And thanks for joining us today, Dede.

Mike: Our guest today is Loralee Spurlock, a missionary and Hebrew language teacher. Loralee, welcome to the program!

Loralee Spurlock: Thank you!

Mike: Loralee, you share your love of Hebrew through teaching homeschool students. What guidance would you give to parents who want their children to learn a language but don’t know that language themselves?

Loralee: Well, it’s sort of one-two-three. Get a good textbook, and an answer key that’s age-appropriate. Have access to an authority, to ask questions about whatever language it is. If you choose Hebrew—and I hope everybody will—you could find a Messianic congregation or synagogue that has children’s Hebrew classes.

But also, you have to use a lot of exciting puzzles, fun songs, and if it’s Hebrew, Hebrew Bible verses and prayers, and lots of related parties and games. For instance, seasonal Purim with its drama and costumes and Bible history; Hanukkah, with fun ways to combine history, Bible, and games; and table talk! And learning Hebrew will be a joy and profitable.

Mike: Loralee, thank you so much for joining us and that valuable information!

Mike: Today our guest is Ingrid Heidelberger, a homeschool graduate who will be starting at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall to study linguistics. Ingrid, welcome to the program today!

Ingrid Heidelberger: Hi, thank you so much for inviting me to Home School Heartbeat.

Mike: Well, you’re welcome. Ingrid, it’s unusual to hear of someone studying just languages. As a homeschool student, when did you discover your passion for languages? And what do you plan to do with your knowledge of all of these languages you have?

Ingrid: I actually became interested in languages after I began studying Latin in 4th grade. And at first I was a really unwilling student. But as I began to learn more vocabulary and grammar and understand more of the language, I began to have a lot of fun with it. It was kind of like a puzzle, and the reward for solving it was just the ability to understand the thoughts of people from a foreign culture.

So after a few years of Latin I became interested in modern languages like German, Italian, and Spanish. I was just eager to have more puzzles to solve, I guess. I still don’t really have a clear idea of how I’m going to use these languages. Many people have suggested mission work, and I know that foreign languages would be useful for that, but I just don’t know right now. So currently I’m just studying, practicing, and waiting to find out what’s going to happen.

Mike: Well, Ingrid, that’s very exciting! I know that recently you added two more languages to the many that you already speak: the Telugu and Tamil dialects of the Indian language. What got you interested in learning them?

Ingrid Heidelberger: Well, on several occasions I’ve gone to southern India to work in some children’s homes, in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where the official languages are Tamil and Telugu. So as I spent time with the children at the homes, I figured it would be best if I made an effort to learn their languages so that we wouldn’t have to rely on broken English all the time. So I started with simple commands, like sit, stand, come, go, do your work. And I also learned many words for food items and members of the family because these words were used the most frequently.

I definitely learned the most from the young children, because they spoke fairly slowly and their grammar was extremely simple. Also, I learned a lot about the syntax of Tamil and Telugu by just paying close attention to the errors that the Indians made when they spoke English. It was a really exciting time to learn. I’m still a total beginner in both Tamil and Telugu, but I plan to keep learning and practicing.

Mike: Well yeah, what a tremendous experience you had, Ingrid, and thank you so much for joining us to tell us about it this week. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Diane Kummer

Diane and her husband Tom homeschooled their two children from kindergarten through 12th grade using a variety of teaching options. Both of their children went on to college, and are now well into their careers. She joined the staff of Home School Legal Defense Association nine years ago. As an HSLDA High School Consultant, Diane regularly speaks nationwide at homeschool conferences and presents high school symposiums where she shares from her experiences and her imperfect (but real) homeschooling days! Diane enjoys writing articles (such as regular columns for the Homeschool Enrichment and Court Report magazines as well as other publications), brochures on high school topics, and a monthly high school newsletter filled with helpful tips.

Dede Daoud

Dede Daoud was born in Basra, Iraq, and grew up in Lebanon. Graduating from Beirut University College with a Business Computers degree, she worked as a computer analyst and programmer before she got married and moved to the USA in order to attain her graduate degree. Fortunately, God had different plans; He blessed her and her husband with two daughters they homeschooled. Her oldest is now attending Patrick Henry College. Dede is still teaching her youngest, who is a junior in high school, at home. When she’s not teaching, Dede loves to be out in the yard with her plants and flowers at her home in Hayward, California, and enjoying how they reflect God.

Loralee Spurlock

Loralee was raised in a home where the Bible was taught regularly. She started at a very young age wanting to bring people to know about GOD. She started Bible clubs in her neighborhood at the age of 8, got kicked out of nursing school because of witnessing, taught in Christian schools, and was a missionary in Mexico and Africa. After her husband was killed in a plane crash during their ministry in Africa in 1980, she worked on developing opportunities for teaching others. She has been a speaker and teacher when and wherever she can. She began to learn and teach Hebrew about 12 years ago, and has a growing love for Israel.

Ingrid Heidelberger

Ingrid Heidelberger is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, where she intends to major in linguistics. She was homeschooled through high school by her mother, Dana Heidelberger, and has attended several local homeschool co-ops. Since elementary school, she has been extremely interested in foreign languages, and she looks forward to exploring the field of linguistics at UPenn.

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