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Charting a Path for Foreign Language

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Some colleges and universities will accept foreign language taught at home for admission, but few, if any, will accept it for graduation.  Florida law requires 2 sequential courses in the same foreign language prior to entering the upper division of a 4-year institution.   These 2 courses can be 2 years of high school language or 2 semesters of college level language. However, depending on the university and the degree, a student will likely be required to complete 2 or 3 semesters of college level foreign language to graduate. Because foreign language courses may vary widely in the way they are taught from institution to institution, it is best to take all the courses in one institution. FSU teaches all foreign language courses by immersion (no English is spoken in the class). For example, if a student takes 2 semesters during their AA in a postsecondary institution that does not use the immersion method and then tries to take the last semester at FSU, he or she will have a disadvantage compared to students that took their first 2 semesters in an immersion class.  The foreign language requirements for FSU is as follows.

So, how does your child become proficient in a foreign language? In an article “Why Is it Easier for a Child to Learn a New Language Than an Adult?by Sharon Perkins which was updated September 26, 2017, she quotes Dr. Paul Thompson, neurology professor at UCLA who says, “After age 11, centers in the brain responsible for language acquisition stop growing rapidly and language acquisition becomes more difficult…”

In the same article, Sharon Perkins, states, “Children will only continue to use two languages if they receive some value from it, Beverly A. Clark explains in an article published at the Proceedings of the Lilian Katz Symposium in 2000…”

So, maybe we need to think about teaching a foreign language every year beginning in elementary school rather than in high school.  If you are bilingual yourself, it would be much easier to teach your child from birth. But if you are not, then you might want to pursue some other alternatives and try to learn the language alongside your child. If your home school program is eclectic, you may want to consider incorporating FLVS Spanish part-time through FLVS FLEX Elementary.

FLVS offers Spanish from first grade through high school on a part-time basis free of charge. French, Latin, and Chinese are also offered in high school on a part-time basis free of charge.  If your child chooses French or Latin in high school, FLVS offers higher levels of those languages which are not shown on the website.  If the student chooses to take the higher levels of those languages, the student should contact their FLVS FLEX counselor about enrolling in the course.

While having familiarity with a foreign language prior to college may give a student a leg up in college, these higher level FLVS courses will not replace the graduation requirement for Florida universities. It should be noted that foreign languages at Florida college and universities are designed to teach foreign languages to students with no background in a foreign language, but if your home educated child decides to re-enter public or private school in high school, 2 years of foreign language will be required for graduation and for Bright Futures. It just seems wise to incorporate it in your home education curriculum so your bases are covered.

In the Classical Conversations program, Latin is incorporated annually in the coursework.  Latin is the basis for several foreign languages and should make studying foreign languages easier in college.

You could also begin exposing your child every day to the vocabulary and pronunciation of a foreign language through some of the commercial language programs available.

Keep in mind that languages are hard to learn on your own unless you are consistent and practice it regularly.  It helps to have a plan.

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