The Charlotte Mason approach to learning languages is an effective and engaging method that emphasises immersion, real-life experiences, and the use of living books. This unique approach not only helps learners develop a deep understanding of the language but also fosters a love for the culture and history associated with it.
If you think about learning your mother tongue it was not learnt through grammar it was learnt through listening to your parents, listening to books being read-loud and hearing it in everyday life, and that is what learning with the Charlotte Mason approach is all about.
So let’s talk about the approach and how it can help you and your child’s language learning journey!
The Basics of the Charlotte Mason Approach
The Charlotte Mason approach is centred around the idea that children learn best through direct exposure to real-life situations and experiences. This approach can be adapted to learning any language, and here’s how it works:
1. Immersion and Living Books
In the Charlotte Mason approach, immersion plays a vital role in language learning. By surrounding learners with authentic language through books, conversations, and cultural experiences, they are able to absorb the language naturally. Living books, which are rich in language and captivating storytelling, are used to expose learners to high-quality literature
Now I can hear the panic in your voices. All you parents out there that do not have a knowledge or fluency of the language that your child is learning please remember it is a journey and you can go on this journey together. Learning by doing is such a great thing.
2. Narration and Conversations
Narration is an integral part of the Charlotte Mason approach. Learners are encouraged to retell stories, answer questions, and engage in conversations to express themselves in the target language. This helps develop their listening, speaking, and comprehension skills while also building confidence in using the language.
A great way to incorporate this into your language learning journey is through bilingual books or audio books. Bilingual books and audiobooks are a fabulous resource for parents who are not fluent in the language or are a little unsure of pronunciations.
3. Nature Walks and Field Trips
The Charlotte Mason approach values learning in natural and real-life settings. Nature walks and field trips provide opportunities for learners to observe and describe the world around them in the target language. This hands-on experience enhances vocabulary, language fluency, and cultural understanding.
Here you could introduce the Exploring Nature with Children Curriculum or check out my other blog post about Fun and Effective Ways for Outdoor Language Learning.
4. Dictation and Copywork (for children who are more advanced!)
Dictation and copywork are essential components of the Charlotte Mason approach. Learners are encouraged to write and copy passages in the target language, allowing them to absorb grammar rules, spelling, and sentence structure naturally. This practice also improves handwriting skills and reinforces memory retention.
Choose a book that you have been reading or a nature topic that really interests them to ensure motivation.
5. Building a Language Habit
Consistency is key in the Charlotte Mason approach. By establishing a language learning routine and incorporating it into daily life, learners develop a habit of using the language regularly. This self-directed approach fosters independence and lifelong learning.
Habits are fabulous for language learning. Charlotte’s approach to habits is to have one specific habit and work towards this by repeating it as often as possible building it into a routine for six to eight weeks to keep things on track.
So What Are The Benefits of the Charlotte Mason Approach
The Charlotte Mason approach offers several advantages when it comes to language learning:
1. Authentic Language Acquisition
By immersing learners in real-life language experiences, learners are exposed to natural vocabulary, idioms, and cultural nuances, enabling them to develop a deep understanding of the language.
2. Cultivating a Love for Language and Culture
The Charlotte Mason approach encourages learners to explore the cultural aspects of the language they are learning. Through living books, conversations, and real-life experiences, learners develop a genuine appreciation for the language and its associated culture, fostering a lifelong love for both.
3. Building Confidence in Language Use
The emphasis on narration, conversations, and copywork in the Charlotte Mason approach helps learners build confidence in using the language. By actively engaging with the language and practising their speaking and writing skills, learners gain fluency and overcome the fear of making mistakes.
This is a really big one here, as a number of scholars are shy and reserved when it comes to speaking the language in front of others.
4. Holistic Language Learning
The Charlotte Mason approach encompasses various learning modalities, including reading (Living books), writing (Copywork and dictation), speaking (narration), and listening (read-aloud, conversations and nature walks). This holistic approach ensures that learners develop well-rounded language skills and a comprehensive understanding of the language.
The Charlotte Mason approach really does encourage language learning as if it is their native language. This approach ensures it is fun along the way helping you all on this language learning journey. If you want some more informaion about Charlotte Mason and her approach to language learning take a look at my Pin-Board Charlotte Mason Inspired Language Learning.
Also my book The Outdoor Bilingual Learner (which I know I plug in everypost but…) has been inspired by the Charlotte Mason approach with learning vocabulary and short sentences related to various nature topics encouraging your language learning journey to take an outdoor approach.
Hope this post helps you on your family’s language learning adventures.