Questions About Language Learning

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Rutherglen1794, Jun 8, 2019.

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  1. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore


    I’m trying to think through some things regarding learning a second language, and teaching my children a second language.

    **I’m not including the Biblical languages in this discussion at this time.**

    1. For a homeschooling family (kids are still only 2) with no secondary language knowledge (or need, considering we know only English speakers), is Latin a good choice to teach the children as a part of their education?

    2. Or should we focus on a different language?

    3. What are the arguments for/against learning Latin vs a living language?

    4. What’s the philosophy behind Latin being the staple secondary language of a child’s education? I’ve heard it helps children to learn better in general?

    5. Are Bibles that have different languages on opposite pages any good for language learning?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    To speak a living language, pick a language that you can practice everyday and find native speakers. Otherwise it is very hard to go past the very basics. For instance, if you want to learn Indonesian you need to move to Indonesia in a place where they only speak that language.
  3. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Why do you think they need to know a second language?
  4. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Surely it can't be a bad thing.
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Didn't we have a series of posts on this some months ago?
  6. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    We are thinking of choosing Spanish for my 5yr. Old.

    The Hispanic population in the U.S.A. is becoming larger and larger. Even in my local city, the Hispanic population is on the rise.

    Why a second language? Well it can be incredibly beneficial with foreign travel, reaching out to families of other ethnicities, and offering translation to church services. In Mississippi the number of Mexican Restaurants is only beaten by the number of baptist churches. Most staff love to communicate and help others practice Spanish.

    Overall, I have been thinking my daughter would benefit more from this than the more “expected” approach of ballet and sport marathons.

    If you want your kids to learn a second language, my 2 cents is to teach your kids a language that you think they have a high probability of using.

    I have heard of a few homeschool parents going the Latin route. I have not researched much into it, but I don’t see how it can hurt. The benefits just don’t jump out at me quite as much as Spanish. I have heard that Spanish is the 2nd most spoken language in U.S.A. and that we have the 2nd highest native Spanish speaking population in the world (Mexico being first).:detective:
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  7. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Instead of learning Spanish, we should be encouraging Spanish-speakers living here to learn English. English is the majority language in the US (and will continue to be for the foreseeable future) and, if Spanish-speakers want to succeed here, they need to learn it.

    Or, to put it the other way around, English-speakers learning Spanish is a way to encourage Spanish-speakers not to learn English.
  8. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Why is it a good thing, necessarily?
  9. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Instead?....I would say do both because of the benefits.

    But the OP and my reply does not really deal with the dynamic I think you are trying to insert/discuss.

    They (the OP & my reply) have to do with the benefits of learning a second language, which has benefits no matter what ones primary language/ethnicity starts out as being or where one lives.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Speaking as one who is useless at languages (okay, I know some basic NT Greek, but that is it), there are many reasons why training children to learn another language is a good thing:

    1) It broadens their mind intellectually.

    2) If they become proficient at languages, they may be able to translate Reformed theological works out of Latin, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, and so on.

    3) Even if you do not teach them biblical languages while homeschooling if they ever train for the ministry, they will have a much easier time learning the biblical languages than those who have zero linguistic training.

    4) In certain professions, it may give them an advantage in the job market.

    If I had my life to live over again, I would have worked far harder at learning French in school. At the time, I saw no immediate benefit in learning it, but now I see the value in learning another language.
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I would think the top options in the Democratic Republic of Canada in terms of usefulness would be

  12. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    I would think the benefits are fairly obvious.
  13. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

  14. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    My two cents is that learning any language is better than learning none, since learning one helps one to learn another, even if they are unrelated, though if they are, such as Spanish and Latin, the advantage is even greater.
    That said, I would probably start with Spanish for a few reasons. The first is that kids learn languages more naturalistically at younger languages, which is easier to do and more advantageous with a living language - more advantageous because it helps with things like having a good accent, and easier because there are more opportunities for direct communication.
    Regarding the comment that Spanish speakers should learn English, they do, and immigrants today lose their heritage languages faster than any previous generation of immigrants, so a charitable concern for the survival of their cultural identity would be more well-founded. European immigrants of 100-200 years ago were far lazier about learning English it seems.
  15. Andrew35

    Andrew35 Puritan Board Freshman

    Anecdotally, the people I know who studied Latin as part of their Classical education consider it kind of worthless, and lament that they didn't learn either a modern language, like Chinese or Spanish, or a Biblical language, like Greek.

    I'm actually of two minds on the topic.

    But I do think there is a great deal of value to learning another language while in grade school, and, as mentioned earlier, a "super-language" (like Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, or French) would have its advantages.

    Not that you would learn it well enough to speak it, but some study might help you to be able to pick it up later, if you so desired.
  16. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks all.

    Choosing a secondary language is such a hard decision to make. Like I said, I don’t know anyone who speaks a second language, so it’s not as easy as just looking of nation-wide stats and choosing from the top of the list.

    I’ve heard so many good things from times past about learning Latin, but I have no idea if the same would hold true today for my children.
  17. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    A "charitable concern for the survival of their cultural identity?" Millions of people speak Spanish in Mexico, Central America, South America, and in Spain. So I don't think Spanish-speakers are in much danger of losing their cultural identity.
  18. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Unless you're going to be an international businessman, or in the diplomatic corps, or doing any other activity as part of your job where you'll have many contacts in some other country, I don't see much reason, from a practical standpoint, to learn a foreign language. I know a business owner, now retired, who, as part of his business, made many trips to China. He didn't see any need to learn Chinese.
  19. Andrew35

    Andrew35 Puritan Board Freshman

    Then I'm afraid he missed out on some of the more interesting meals and experiences he could have had.

    But 一个萝卜一个坑 (to each his own). :)
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  20. nickipicki123

    nickipicki123 Puritan Board Freshman

    I will say that knowing Spanish in an area that has a lot of Spanish speakers does have its benefits. I volunteered at a hospital that served people from a wide variety of backgrounds, many of whom had English as a second language. It's not as though these people weren't trying to learn English, but many of them were older, and learning a second language is harder as you age. Additionally they could understand basic conversation but had a harder time with more technical language that you might see in medicine. Therefore it was incredibly helpful to have translators and Spanish speaking staff to help them. If you live in an area that doesn't have a lot of foreign language speakers, and you don't plan on traveling much, then sure, there's no point in learning a second language. But if you want to broaden your horizons, learn about other cultures, travel, and converse with people from other linguistic backgrounds, learning a second language can be very helpful. Where I live, Spanish or Mandarin would be most useful and I probably will want my future children to learn as much Spanish as they can, but you have to make that call based on where you live.
  21. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree with Perg that any attempt to become fluent or even conversant in a second language will be impossible without immersion. Given, then, that your children have no hope of getting good at French or Italian or Chinese unless you move to a different country, you might as well do Latin or Greek. The purpose, after all, isn't really so they can easily use another language, but to exercise a different portion of their minds. Knowing Latin roots and endings can help them become better at understanding English and how it's built, which will make them better readers and writers. Here is a little rhyme schoolkids used to put into their title pages:
    Hic liber est meus
    Testis est Deus
    Si quis furetur
    Per collum pendetur
    It makes a book more fun when you run across it and know what it means.
  22. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    At least one year of a language and often two are generally expected in an academic high school diploma. We're embarking on German for our last two kids (their choice).

    If one hears correct English and reads extensively, it's easy to go through school without understanding how language works. What sounds "right" will generally be correct.

    With a foreign language, verb conjugation, agreement, article choices, word order, etc. suddenly become significant. That knowledge can improve your writing and can be applied if you need to quickly pick up another language. I had to travel in Ecuador for one job, and I quickly moved up in classes to join those who had previously studied Spanish. I had previously studied French (high school) and German (college BA). My older sister completed graduate school in Germany and had to learn the language in a matter of months before classes started.

    That said, bunches of programs skip learning the grammar to encourage "spoken" language. For our home school, I'm having to straddle both worlds due to studying chemistry (yikes!) with the boys next year. I'm finding the Mango classes (available free by our local library) make you produce the spoken language and at least gives the basics of the structure. More would be better.

    To give younger children exposure to a language, you could use something like Mango and incorporate phrases into everyday life. Das Abendessen ist sehr lecker! :)
  23. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Learn Chinese in order to help the US during the next big war that is brewing, WWIII between the US and is bound to happen sooner or later. Better prepare some translators now to help in the war effort lest we all end up speaking Chinese in the end.
  24. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Wurst und Sauerkraut sind immer lecker.
  25. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    I never understood John 3:16 until I read it in Spanish.
  26. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    If you are thinking ahead to College, many Colleges have a foreign language requirement as well (and unfortunately Latin doesn't count). In some cases, high school credits can count toward that (or community college classes to help homeschoolers): not having to take those College classes frees up space to do more of whatever you are interested in.

    For myself, I learned 1 year of latin, 8 years french, 4 years german in middle/high school. I didn't really invest myself as I should have (I was a chronic underachiever before college). But it certainly made seminary classes in Greek and Hebrew easier, and for my PhD I was able to refresh my french and german adequately over a summer. I can follow the gist of conversations and read fairly slowly, but I have no regrets about the time invested. My high school "Divinity" classes, on the other hand, were an utter waste of time.

    One anecdote: I spent one summer in college working for a small radio control airplane company, most of which was basic assembly, packing and shipping. The most interesting part of the whole summer was when the design engineer asked me to have a stab at translating a technical article he was interested in from German. The result was a long way from publishable, but it gave him the gist and gave me a break from soldering.
  27. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Schmeckt gut :)
  28. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Pretty good on a hot dog too.
  29. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    I think you mean a Frankfurter.
  30. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Si, delicioso.
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