A few thoughts on ‘bilingual homeschooling’.

04 Oct

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… 

There’s also a very interesting/challenging/poking article from CNN, bringing out the discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it’s part of who I’m… that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a ‘trailing spouse’ and mother to 3 TCKs].

According to Corey Heller [the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine], “Home languages almost always take a severe blow the moment our children walk through the schoolhouse doors. 

All of a sudden, our children are surrounded by peers, teachers, administrators (even the janitor and bus driver) all day long who speak nothing but the community language.  Our children quickly learn that this “school language” is essential for functioning in society and thus begins the home language–school/community language dichotomy (to the distress of many a dedicated parent). However, not all families experience this abrupt change once their children are school age. What is their secret?” 

Well, the answer presented by the Multilingual Living author is that parents “choose to educate their children at home and avoid the whole transition all together”.

Personally, we’re trying to get the best of the two worlds: our 2 elementary children attend an international school in Bolivia, where most of the classes are in English, with the optional Spanish as a ‘bonus’ class. The playground language is Spanish. Homework is done in English. I try my best to only speak to the children in Portuguese, and my husband does the same, regarding Spanish. I guess, we’re doing the ‘part-time homeschooling’!

Back to the ‘inspirational article’, “For most families, homeschooling is not about recreating the classroom at home. It is about creating something absolutely brand new and unique; about fostering an environment which is conducive to learning, regardless of material, location or method…” I agree with the author, and just wish I/we could replicate that in our own household! 🙂 And why I say that? Because it’s hard, despite the endless efforts from the parents,

bilingual homeschoolers use an array of resources for learning different subjects. What is most important are the results that come from learning a subject, e.g. being able to read and comprehend what is read, compute mathematical equations on varying levels, write a well-researched and well-argued essay, be familiar with world geography and history, and put the scientific method into practice – all of which progresses and matures as our children develop their knowledge and skills…”

And as the author wraps it up, we’re left with a great advice:

How to Homeschool in more than one Language:
“Each family will need to come up with their own bilingual homeschooling plan based on their languages and subjects which they plan to cover.  Family members must also decide who will be teaching which subjects in which language and when. Planning is probably the hardest part so families need to make sure they find as many resources as they can – general books on homeschooling as well as books in the target language which can be used for specific subjects”.

That said, we’ll keep on trying to assist our children with homework, school projects, reading/writing responses, using not only English. Math problems could be described and explained using my Portuguese. The joy of seeing my son resolving a problem/understanding a text excerpt and writing down the answers in English, carries a totally especial feeling for me. It shows the innate capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to develop a very personal way of thinking, of expressing himself

Leaving you all with nice words of support, from Corey Heller: “The decision to homeschool bilingually can be a frightening one but with enough preparation, support and motivation you can make it a successful one for you and your family.”

If you liked this piece, please take a moment and go visit Multilingual Living website. It’s a very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality. From our “tentative trilingual home“, to yours…♥



Benefits of Multilingualism


Posted by on October 4, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs


Tags: , , , , ,

10 responses to “A few thoughts on ‘bilingual homeschooling’.

  1. Elisabeth

    July 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    I am hoping to homeschool bilingually as well, when our children are older. I teach Spanish right now and I actually see the opposite problem “rightwingnutsandbolts” mentioned: I am hesitant to send my children to any of the school in our area because there is a LACK of teaching and valuing foreign language. I have noticed that being monolingual inhibits one’s ability to really evaluate other cultures– for instance, in the U.S., Latino culture might be either idealized or seen with prejudice. Speaking Spanish has helped us form friendships with Latinos and truly see the negatives and wonderful positives in their culture.

    I just don’t see many schools here who value foreign language and how it would enrich students’ English skills as well. It makes for such a well-rounded education! It’s great to find your site and find more ideas!


  2. 3rdCultureChildren

    May 18, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Com certeza, JT!
    Sinta-se à vontade para comentar aqui no próprio blog, ou através de perguntas… e caso prefira, o email associado a este blog, para perguntas, é

    Sucesso com sua jornada em ‘homeschooling your kids’, e até mais!


  3. Imelda

    August 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Wow! Homeschooling is difficult enough, but homeschooling bilingually, in my opinion, ups the difficulty level. That said, our family can benefit from this considering that we are a bilingual household. But, I have been daunted by speaking twice the same thought. 🙂


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      August 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      Well… many challenges ahead of us, right? Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by, read thru the post and share your comments – much appreciated! 😮


  4. theopenhome

    August 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I love this idea, really gets rid of the whole home language vs school language issue. We’re considering homeschooling when the time comes but unfortunately my husband and I are not bilingual so can’t really adopt this teaching style. We are keen to introduce languages early on though and hope to take some language lessons ourselves, so it will likely be homeschooling for the whole family!


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      August 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Humm… it sounds like a great idea to have the whole family involved in learning a second language… shy not? 😮 Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!


  5. rightwingnutsandbolts

    August 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Came in ready to rip you about what multiculturalism is doing to America. But, actually, I applaud you for everything you have said about home schooling and expanded education. (Besides, you are not in America.) As I have recently said, the ability to enjoy what other cultures have to offer aesthetically and otherwise does not have to include adopting all of their value sets. What lies at the end of language learning is the ability to evaluate other cultures properly, instead of based upon what some foreigner wrote about them in a book. Language provides many clues to the inner thinking of a culture that don’t translate well. The problem in America is that we are forced to accept every culture without any attempt to understand or critique it. By doing so, we have lost the American culture in the shuffle. That’s why we should insist that our children in America should first learn the American English language. While I am all for kids here learning other languages, the sad truth is that only about a third of people in this country even know English proficiently. Sadly, that includes the public school teachers.

    In the future, I hope that home schools become the norm as we ditch the antiquated and ineffective public schools. Viva la educacion. 加油!(Add oil! Keep up the good work!)


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      August 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

      First, let me thank you for not ‘ripping me off’ regarding the misfortunes of the unguided multiculturalism. 😮 I also agree with you… a new culture can’t be absorbed without any questioning. It takes time, effort, interest and good judgment. My favorite part of your comment is “at the end of language learning is the ability to evaluate other cultures properly” – I couldn’t agree more with that! I come from Brazil, where also the multiculture has taken the space of the real, original culture. Again, absorption without questioning. Big mistake, I’d say. Just because a culture is foreigner, new, it does not mean it should be taken up on its totality, skipping the adaptation/adjustment process/period.

      Thanks for your words of support! We’ll keep on trying! 😮
      Take care, Raquel


  6. N

    August 13, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Your posts on bilingualism are so interesting for me. My children are not yet school aged, but I feel sometimes lonely in my quest to educate them bilingual… It feels good to hear about a mom who is doing it! 🙂


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      August 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Glad to know you relate to the posts, somehow… but there are plenty of moms/dads out there trying similar things… 😮 the more you look for information, resources, discussion forums, the more surprised you get about finding a growing community. Happy to know the posts are useful/intriguing/thought provoking, in any way – feel free to add to any/all the discussions… the more, the merrier! 😮 Take care, R.



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