Why should your child study German? Honestly, the best reason of all is simply because they want to. Whether the interest comes from family heritage, an interest in history, or just that it sounds “cool,” that internal drive is what motivates students to move beyond requirements to any level of mastery.
Benefits of Learning The German Language
Most of the benefits provided by learning German are common to learning any foreign language:
It satisfies college requirements.
It increases a student’s understanding of English.
It increases a student’s ability to recognize context clues.
It increases cultural understanding, both of their native culture and the culture of the target language.
It broadens perspectives and shows new ways of looking at the world.
German has the added advantage of being delightfully literal.
A Good Teacher Makes Language Learning Less Intimidating
I took German in high school because Russian wasn’t offered. I had never really thought much about language before that. Spanish made more sense, or so everyone told me, but I did not enjoy my eighth-grade introduction to Spanish. Fortunately, I had two excellent German teachers whose teaching styles perfectly matched my preferred learning style.
The first was Ms. Glendening. She opened the doors of wonder for me and a whole new world of language. When I wasn’t able to afford to go on the class trip to Germany, she was visibly disappointed. She then searched for a scholarship opportunity that paid for a year of study abroad. My second teacher was living in Germany.
As a teacher, I try to emulate the best characteristics of both: immersive, meaningful, playful, and encouraging.
Parts of German grammar can be intimidating. There is no getting around gender or case or adjective endings. How tedious this is for students has a lot to do with how it is taught, however. One of the clearest methods I know is a simple sentence-building activity that visually demonstrates how German sentences are put together. I turned it into a sort of simple choose-your-own-adventure type game. This grammar drill ended up the most requested game for our end-of-year party.
If a student develops a passion for German that brings them beyond college requirements, there are, of course, other benefits.
German is the dominant language of the EU, with more native language speakers than any other European language. It is the second most spoken second language (behind English).
Germany has the largest GDP of EU member countries.
Germany directly invests over $10 billion into the US economy. Several German companies have satellite offices in the US.
It is the language of Goethe, Schiller, Kafka, Brecht, Beethoven, Mozart, and many others.
German immigration has greatly influenced American culture.
Many of the world’s most significant works in science, theology, psychology, history, and literature are written in German.
Plus, binge-watching your favorite television series sounds like more of an accomplishment in German!
This quotation from Charlemagne is timeless. We have always heard that it is beneficial to learn another language, but do we really believe it? Well, I do.
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” – Charlemagne
My Visit to Spain
As a cautious high school student, I boarded my first plane flight to Spain with a group of strangers. Armed only with three years of poorly learned high school Spanish I ventured headlong into a homestay with a wonderfully patient family. Later in my junior year of college, I lived in Córdoba, Spain for an academic year taking classes in Spanish and living life in a Spanish dorm. I quickly had to learn to navigate in my new world.
My Second Soul
So this brings me to my second soul. That summer after my junior year in Spain I was invited by my brother to be a translator on a mission trip to Mexico. I however was not a believer. I was very far from God. A dear friend suddenly died while I was in Spain and the heartbreak of losing him so young shocked me to my core. “What could I say of myself if I passed suddenly as he did?” The big questions of eternity loomed in my heart and my head.
While in Mexico I was paired up with a pastor’s wife and we did door-to-door evangelism together. She used her parallel Bible and I would read and explain concepts in Spanish. It was during that trip after many late-night talks that I surrendered myself to Jesus. I gained my second soul through Spanish.
Why Choose Spanish?
Aside from the beauty of the language and the connections you will make as you study it, Spanish is the language of over 450 million people in the world! By learning Spanish you will be able to understand your native English more. And you will be humbled by how much you do not know about your own language!
I hope you will be able to join me (Emily Harkey) and my students this year in our journey into Spanish with True North Homeschool Academy, or with another curriculum or class – it is truly through the struggles and joys of learning another language that you are able to “possess a second soul”.
More About Emily & Her Spanish Classes
Currently, Emily Harkey teaches Spanish A, Spanish B and section two of our Spanish Level One classes. We are thankful for her expertise. She really immerses the students in the language and culture and she loves the benefits of the interaction students get in her online classes. Hear more from her about her philosophy and teaching styles in the video below:
Thank you, Emily, for sharing from your heart! If you want to learn more about why your child might want to learn Spanish, check out our blog post 5 Reasons to Study Spanish!
Spanish Curriculum Giveaway!
Enter from May 21 – June 4, 2021: True North Homeschool Academy is giving away Spanish curriculum. Enter for a chance to win our self-paced elementary level Spanish curricula from Risas y SonRisas or Level One (used for Spanish 1) or Level Two (used for Spanish II) of the Spanish curriculum, Breaking the Spanish Barrier. It’s an exciting opportunity and one we hope you will ENTER TO WIN! True North offers Spanish classes for your elementary students as well as Spanish for middle school (junior high) and high school Spanish levels 1-3.
February 15 kicks off the 2021 Chinese New year, which lasts until January 21, 2022. Based on the Lunar New Year, it is celebrated in Asian countries around the world, including China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet, as well as Chinese communities throughout the United States.
My daughter and her friends have a round-robin monthly movie night. This month they’ll be watching Mulan, eating fish, dumplings, and sticky rice cakes while celebrating the Chinese New Year! My daughter is hosting and has spent many happy hours creating Chinese Lanterns, beautiful cut-outs, and banners with sayings on them as decorations. The theme was inspired by her Chinese language class. Of course the color red features prominently and that is because “red” traditionally means “good luck” especially accompanied with gold or black lettering or decoration. These are cheery and beautiful decorations and the pops of red are a beautiful contrast to the dead of winter we are experiencing!
Each Chinese Year is assigned an animal. This is based on the Chinese Lunar Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is a classification system that assigns animals and related attributes in a 12-year cycle based approximately on the orbital period of Jupiter. 2021 is the year of the Ox. According to tradition, people born during the year of the Ox are considered hard workers, intelligent and reliable. They don’t need to be center stage or demand praise are calm and make excellent leaders.
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Activities
On Chinese New Year, you’ll commonly see a calligraphy character on a square of red paper, hung in a diamond shape. The character, 福 [fú], means good luck.
Red envelopes full of money- are traditionally gifted from an elder or parent to children, or to anyone who’s unmarried.
Fish – In Chinese, “fish” (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like “surplus” and it’s believed that eating fish will bring an increase in prosperity.
Chinese dumpling (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) – legends say that the more dumpling you eat during the New year celebrations, the more money you’ll make in the New Year.
Glutinous rice cake (年糕 Niángāo /nyen-gaoww/) – symbolizes prosperity. The main ingredients of Nian Gao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.
Good fortune fruit – tangerines and oranges (橙 chéng /chnng/), which sounds the same as the Chinese for “success” (成). They are selected as they are particularly round and “golden” in color symbolizing fullness and wealth.
As with many New Year traditions celebrated around the world, a deep and thorough house cleaning is in order. Getting rid of the old and treating oneself to new, particularly new clothes. Make sure those clothes are new to bring you good luck!
And share the New Year Celebration with those you love- family and friends- eating, giving red envelopes full of money and wishing each other good fortune and ( 新年好 Xīnnián hǎo) Happy New Year!