Foreign Language the CM Way

A foreign language is best learnt by

using it

Here in South Africa we teach our children our second language ~


The language spread of Afrikaans in the world ...

Afrikaans in the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To teach a foreign language, these approaches work well:

  • Let your child play with/ talk to/ listen to other children who only speak Afrikaans.
  • Talk Afrikaans (or whatever chosen foreign language) one whole day a week (or better – even more often) at home for everything.
  • Read aloud easy-to-understand-books in Afrikaans and explain & discuss vocabulary and let the child use those words in sentences.
  • Play Afrikaans audio stories, dramas, or plays or watch Afrikaans educational television shows or listen to Afrikaans radio stations.  Talk about it afterwards in Afrikaans of course!
  • Build vocabulary in themes and do oral lessons with loads of repetition.  Use fun methods like finger puppets, interviews, plays and drama.
  • Use workbooks, textbooks, grammar & spelling lessons.
  • Check out Learning the Afrikaans Language Squidoo lens with stacks of suggested software, videos and links

Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching a foreign language was ~

  1. Oral – learn the words orally.  Preferably by an authentic speaker – a French-speaking person teaching French.  Alternatively use an audio program.  Start when young.  Name things around them. Build up vocabulary.
  2. Read & write in the language – Miss. Mason expected children between 9 and 14 years to speak and understand French and be able to read an easy French book.  She suggested a child translate a little passage, re-read it in the foreign language and then narrate it.  Read from a book and the child narrates it in the foreign language.  Older children learnt lists of 40 phrases every 60 school days.
  3. Grammar for older children, with spelling and essay writing.

We all usually understand much more of a new language than we can speak, and we are shy of making mistakes.

I am not as bilingual as I want to be, but I am working on it daily.  I speak Afrikaans much more on the phone and with clients in our Lucerne Tree Farm business.  But I still don’t enjoy reading Afrikaans newspapers and magazines as much as I do with English reading as it is hard work!

Perhaps I should apply Miss. Mason’s methods to my language studies and take out some Afrikaans books from the library and read aloud, look up, write down and translate new words, and then write a narration of the passage I read.

Ultimately we all need this motivation to learn a new language – to use it for effective communication.

What methods/ approaches do you use that works well for your children?  Please share in the comments.Please visit and share with us at the CM blog carnival! We'd love to have you!


This post was submitted to the upcoming CM Carnival.

7 thoughts on “Foreign Language the CM Way

  1. may you please give me some tips on how i can learn afrikaans,i want to teach my child afrikaans but i cant speak it at all,am leaving in south africa


    • @Petronella, I think that the most natural method to learn a language is by immersion; hearing and speaking that language around you. More formal methods include learning the second language’s vocabulary and grammar in lessons with a fluent teacher, or teaching using flashcards, audio tapes/cds and textbooks. We use textbooks. It is the simplest method for our homeschooling. We teach our children Afrikaans because it is one of the official languages spoken in our community. It is the language they most hear when visiting, answering the telephone or doing shopping. Some parents teach a foreign language because of cultural heritage. A new language must be used regularly to remain “alive”. Perhaps you may need to teach (and learn along with them) the foreign language you and your family will most encounter in your new country.
      Charlotte Mason advised that a person who was a native in that language teach the lessons, A French person teach the French lessons, for example. Could an Afrikaans friend/acquaintance/ neighbour/ fellow homeschooler teach your children?
      Hope these ideas help. Blessings!


  2. Hi Nadene, You have a wonderful blog! I keep on coming back. I enjoyed your post on learning Afrikaans as I am in the same boat trying to survive in English. Our home language is Afrikaans and we’re living in Bahrain. We’ve taken a big leap and added Latin to our curriculum too. Fun and games. Thank you for sharing your hard work and experience.


  3. I will be using her approach next year. This year I have been reading, anything I can get my hands on about CM approach. I love her ideas about teaching foriegn language. After teaching my boys two years of Spanish her approach really simplified what I should do. In addition her method will save me money!


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