Natural Foreign Language Learning with Pam Barnhill

Natural Foreign Language

The idea that mothers are the first and most natural teachers to our kids is central to TalkBox.Mom. One of the most underplayed things we do as parents is teach babies and toddlers how to talk. We have the best success rate across the globe! 

We know how to teach languages. And we do that by unclogging the toilet, telling the kids to put their shoes on, and all the normal day-to-day things. We use it as life happens.

I discuss this idea of natural foreign language learning (and more!) with Pam Barnhill of Homeschool Solution on her podcast, Your Morning Breakfast. Here’s more of what we discuss:


The benefits far outweigh the challenges to learning a foreign language. Research shows that children learning a second language are able to better sort information quickly, multitask, make better decisions, and then commit to those decisions. Kids also score higher on SAT and ACTs and in general, have a higher IQ.

I am blown away at how well my children are working through Math, and I really believe exposing my own kids to foreign languages has affected that. One unique quality I’ve noticed in my kids is their empathy for other people. Living in other countries, speaking other languages has helped them see and appreciate different cultures and different people 


I think one big thing we tell ourselves is to be able to speak a language we have to know everything. The trap of perfection is hard to overcome. But babies would never speak if that’s how they thought! We don’t sign up our kids for swim lessons and expect them to know how to swim.

One of my dear friends was visiting France and was trying to say things so perfectly that people would end up saying things back in English. The next day she decided to not think so much about it and just speak, even though it sounded terrible. And guess what? People spoke French back to her!

My one-step program to getting over speaking with an accent is this:

Get over yourself.

Everyone speaks with some sort of accent, and if someone is judging you because of your accent, they have too much time on their hands!


Pam and I discuss different ways to sneak in more natural foreign language learning to your morning routine. We like adding songs, first starting with nursery songs. Then trying out Disney songs, and eventually we try listening to native songs.

Videos are also a hit with kids. Starting with a short video like how-tos are fun to add to your learning time. And if you are far along enough in your foreign language journey, then read! Just like songs and videos, start with short ones books, like children’s board books, and then progress.

So there’s a brief synopsis of our conversation. I hope you take a listen. If you aren’t a subscriber to Pam’s podcast and you homeschool, I highly recommend it. She’s a powerhouse for helping families be consistent in their homeschool life.


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