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Many homeschooling families choose to add a foreign language into their curriculum plan, but when they do, it's usually either Spanish or Latin. French is often not thought of as being a practical language for students; however, in actuality there are many reasons why that's just not true. Here are a few of them:
- Millions of people worldwide speak French. French is spoken in neighboring Canada, and in actuality, it is the second most frequently learned language. The most frequently learned language in the world is English.
- French is the third most frequently used language on the Internet (English and German are the most used). Because of its prominence in both business and academic works, learning French will help students to have educational and business opportunities that otherwise would not be afforded to them.
- Like Latin, French develops the analytical part of the brain - and it helps students to learn other languages in the romance language family.
- French is the official language of the UN, NATO, and other political associations.
- Learning French can help students open up to different cultural traditions. It enriches their learning experiences.
So, now that you recognize the important place French has in our world--students interested in the arts and music will want to study French as well--where can a parent find French homeschool courses?
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Rosetta Stone is so popular that it almost seems like a cliché at this point to include it on a list of great curriculum. Rainbow Resource Center, a homeschool provider catalog offers a homeschool version of this program. At Rainbow, the program only costs $159, a price about $100 below the usual cost.
Students interacting with Rosetta Stone find themselves in an immersion program. The computer component flashes images, speaks a word, and asks students to select the image that accompanies the word. The homeschool version also comes with PDF workbooks for students to work through to help enhance their learning of the language. The great thing about the French program is that there are five levels for the student to work through. If you're looking for a program that allows the student to work independently, this is a very nice one.
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First Start French
First Start French is a program put together by Memoria Press. Those who have enjoyed the Prima Latina and Latina Christiana textbooks will find this to be a very familiar format. It's great for children (grades 3-8) who are being taught by a parent who has no foreign language experience. The program comes with a teacher's guide, a student worktext, and a CD for pronunciation and memory work. The set is $34.95. There are two levels of the program.
What I like about the program also happens to be what I don't like about the program. It's a simple program. The pages can be kind of boring - but it gets the job done too!
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Power-Glide is another very popular French program. The program comes with a parents' guide, 8 CDs, a CD-Rom, and three workbooks. There are two very nice things about this program to take note of. First, this program is geared towards younger children - so children have an interactive component to their French program that they wouldn't otherwise have with First Start French, and they aren't overwhelmed by the program as they often are with Rosetta Stone. The other nice thing about this program is that it's considerably less expensive than Rosetta Stone. Rainbow sells it for $109 but it retails for around $125.
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Le Français Facile!
This program was written specifically for Christian homeschoolers. Each book in the program is meant to last for three years of schooling for a single child. This makes it a nice option for families who want to use it for multiple student levels. I suppose the thing I don't like about the program is that it's too hands-on for my taste. Yes, it's great for families with younger children, but I like to instill independent working ethic. That being said, many families love this program for teaching French at home to youngsters. It will set you back about $140 for each level. There are three: Junior, Level I, and Level II.
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"Yeah, yeah, yeah that's all well and good, but I was looking for something free. I don't have a budget for foreign language this year." Did I hear you right? You're in luck. LiveMocha has free language learning software available online that you can sign up for and use in your homeschool. When you sign up, you're asked a few questions about why you want to learn the language and what your language goals are. There are four levels of French on LiveMocha. Each lesson begins with a video. Granted, as your student moves higher in the levels, he or she will need to be signed up for a paid version of the software. Don't discount this program because of that though - you can also find French language tutoring on this website - something that will become necessary especially as your student progresses in his or her studies.
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Now that you have a starting point, don't hesitate - get on out there and find a course that works for your family and your budget. If you're not sure your student will enjoy the language, start out with a program like LiveMocha. If he or she demonstrates interest and is excelling, you may want to purchase the paid version or one of the other homeschool French courses mentioned here.
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"Why Study French" from the Virginia Tech website.