Ask a Waldorf Teacher: Advice Teaching a Second Language

Every Wednesday our members get to ask Waldorf teacher Diane Power questions about their homeschooling experience, Waldorf education and more. These Q & A sessions are posted on the member blog every week so you have access to all the past Q & A sessions. Become a member of Earthschoolingto get your questions answered personally every week.

Question from Member: My 7 year old (June) son is starting Gr1 in September and I want his second language to be Spanish. I have very basic Spanish so needed a native speaker to help. I also have a 7 month old baby. To this end, I hired a Spanish nanny to come into our home for 2 afternoons a week – the idea being that he speak Spanish to our son, play games in Spanish, sing Spanish songs, cook and generally play with my son and take baby from me here and there. He has been twice now. He seems nice and my son really likes him (he plays football), but I can’t seem to get through to him (language barrier) that we are following a Waldorf inspired curriculum and I don’t want teacher/classroom-like sessions. He unfortunately doesn’t seem to understand me, and also doesn’t seem to know any children’s stories off hand – Spanish or English (had never heard of the 3 little pigs!). I purchased a book that had both the English and Spanish in it but he was a terrible reader – couldn’t have been more boring if he’d tried! Do you think I’m being over ambitious, hoping that a nanny could speak to my child in Spanish, and not actively teach him or should I rather be looking for Spanish classes? My son is reluctant to go to any class that I’m not in as well, and the local classes are all very mainstream and want parents gone! Are there any Spanish resources that very simply spell out the underlying approach of Steiner (the nanny doesn’t seem to have heard of him but again, we have a language barrier), so I can give him something to works from. I do need a mother’s helper at the moment and really hoped I could kill two birds with one stone, but if this isn’t the right approach, can you suggest another way? – Angie

Answer from Waldorf Teacher Diane Power: Hi! What a great idea! Perhaps you could find someone to interpret for you just to give your nanny the basics of what you are looking for. If he still can’t “naturally” play, sing or tell children’s stories, perhaps you could find another person to support or replace him. I have used Sonrisas Spanish curriculum with students that has CDs and book suggestions, but it does have a teacher/classroom feel to it (unless you only sing the songs:)

2 Comments

  1. I think it is a great idea to teach a language that way. My son has been learning languages that way with native speakers, through child led play, for a while and I just want to say that it worked for him very well. I do not have the communication problem with the native speakers and I don’t know an easy way to break that but I would not find it very beneficial if the native speaker would not understand my expectations. Having a native speakers “teaching” my son and being able to communicate with that person, being on the same page it is a wonderful learning experience. I would encourage you to keep looking to find the right person:this person will spend time with your son for…. maybe years to come.

    anamaria achitei Reply

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