This post is part of our series on our favorite homeschool resources.
Modern foreign language has been a holdout in our war of homeschooling. Many have fallen in this ugly battle with term after term of defeat. I have counted six brave knights (programs) who have led a valiant, heroic charge against the foe, only to be left slaughtered on the field.
But now one has risen who is steadfastly pushing back the enemy’s front line: the Universal Language Acquisition Tool, also know as the ULAT.
Choosing the ULAT
I have know about the ULAT for several years, but I can only account for the guidance of the Holy Spirit leading me to try it at this time. With a junior in high school, I felt the dual pressure of wanting to give him the gift of the exposure to a modern foreign language as well as the pragmatic necessity of being able to include two years of modern foreign language on his high school transcript. In August, a friend shared the ULAT had a sale which was ending soon, and we dove in. At the time, I considered the price a very low risk in comparison to investments we had made in the past, and I had no idea what to expect.
The ULAT has been a complete game changer, and for the first time, the whole family is making progress in foreign language, and I cannot fully express my joy.
Charlotte Mason and the ULAT
I believe the ULAT is securely within the philosophies and methods of a Charlotte Mason homeschool. I believe Steve Nesbitt, the author of the program, embraces my children as persons. Not only is he an expert at what he does, he clearly loves what he is doing and shares his passion in a kind and fun way that is adaptable to all my children.
I must disclose that I have not done a personal study into primary sources on how Charlotte Mason taught foreign language, but I have attended workshops, listened to podcasts, and read blogs and articles to the point where I think I have gleaned a few principles. Mr. Nesbitt teaches via immersion and begins with all auditory learning. He starts with teaching five verbs and slowly builds upon them, creating varying series layer by layer, and then continues to add vocabulary and grammar at an achievable rate.
How We Use the ULAT
The junior in high school spends 30 minutes, five days a week on the ULAT. This is a little less than the 45 minutes Mr. Nesbitt recommends, but it is what works for our family right now, and for this student, modern foreign language may be a subject I need to extend into the summer months. At the end of the first term, he has started Unit 1, Lesson 18.
The freshman and seventh grader do the ULAT together and spend 30 minutes twice a week. I love the laughter I often hear coming down the hallway. After a term, they are in Unit 1, Lesson 10.
The fifth grader, third grader, and I all do the ULAT together, and we spend 20-30 minutes twice a week. After a term, we are in Unit 1, Lesson 6.
I debated writing about the ULAT after only one term of using it in our homeschool, but it has been such a blessing to us, that I want to share it now. I hope to come back each term and give you an update.
If you too are slogging through the battle of modern foreign language, I highly suggest you give the ULAT a try. (See comment below.)