How Homeschoolers Earn Foreign Language Credit

There are approximately 1.8 million students being homeschooled across the United States. 

1.8 million.

That’s more than the entire population of Phoenix, Arizona, the 5th largest city in the United States.

1.8 million children are learning at home through various methods such as charter schools, online classes, and independent courses set by parents. No matter the style of at-home teaching that they have chosen, parents have a common goal in mind for their child: to prepare them for a successful future. Part of that preparation includes accurate records of all the credits earned in high school, including foreign language credits like Spanish or French, which can be very hard to get as a homeschooler.

How Homeschoolers Earn Foreign Language Credit

Purpose of Transcripts and Credits

Being successful and pursuing what you love can take many forms, and most parents want to give their child the chance to choose what their future will hold. In 2016, 69.7% of high school graduates were enrolled in college. In other words, almost ¾ of the graduating student population chose to pursue secondary education. 

In order for homeschooled students to graduate and have the option to continue their studies, they must provide a transcript of everything they have worked on over the past 4 years at least. Now, if you are homeschooling with a charter or umbrella school, they create the curriculum and keep track of credits. However, if you are homeschooling on your own, it can be a bit overwhelming to ensure your child is fulfilling state requirements and to record all the credits they’ve earned, especially when it comes to foreign language. 

Foreign Language Credits

Foreign language classes are a key part of public and private school learning, but they can become a hurdle to parents trying to teach them on their own. A vast majority, 80-85%, of Americans speak only one language. When it comes time for homeschooling parents to teach their child a foreign language, they often find themselves at a loss. If they are not fluent in a foreign language, they probably won’t be able to help their children study or answer questions. 

Finding appropriate books and materials for subjects such as math or science is fairly easy, and the books themselves do a lot of teaching. Language, on the other hand, is made up of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. A book can only do so much to teach a language, and many parents end up searching for decent teachers or courses to help their students properly advance in their second (or third or fourth) language. 

However, many methods of language learning, like apps, YouTube lessons, and immersion, do not provide credit. Now, foreign language isn’t required for homeschoolers in most states (47 to be exact), but many colleges do expect incoming students to have years of language study. For parents who want to provide the option of secondary education, securing a way to earn credit for language studies becomes quite important. But, how can you provide quality language education while earning credits?

How to Earn Foreign Language Credit

I’ve always loved languages, and when I was homeschooled, my mom tried her best to make sure I received quality foreign language instruction. We were with a charter school for some time, and we tried (yes, both of us tried learning together) to learn both Spanish and German with the materials the school provided, but to no avail.

The materials that were provided included a CD and workbook, and the activities were all audio-based. That sounds good, right? In theory, yes, but there was no explanation of grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary. I remember my mom and I discussing whether the words said on the CD were spelled with a b or v in Spanish (since they weren’t written in the book), and we wondered why they had such a similar sound. Now, as a fluent Spanish speaker, I understand why.

However, an effective language curriculum needs to include all aspects of language, not just audio. I was also in a co-op Spanish class with a native Spanish-speaking teacher who could answer all my questions, which immediately improved my Spanish skills. However, we moved and were unable to continue with that co-op, and my foreign language classes suffered yet again. 

There are three main hurdles to earning foreign language credit as a homeschooled student:

  1. Finding quality material or instruction
  2. Making sure that the material/classes offer high school credit
  3. Fitting those classes or material into your budget

If you are homeschooling on your own and developing your own coursework and transcripts for your child, the options for what qualifies as a year of high school Spanish can be quite diverse. However, they may not always be the best quality. Likewise, some pre-approved language courses through charter schools might easily give foreign language credit, but they might not be of the best quality.

We’re going to look at some common ways to earn foreign language credit and see how they compare in the three areas listed above.

Before we do that, however, it is important to keep in mind what your personal homeschooling goals are. What works for some may not work for others. Additionally, be sure to check your state’s graduation requirements for foreign language classes as well as any possible prerequisites expected by the college or trade school your child is interested in.

If you homeschool through a charter or a public school, they may already have foreign language courses available. However, if you opt to do one of the options below, you need to present the new curriculum to your umbrella school to make sure it is approved by them. 

So, how can you earn foreign language credit while homeschooling? Let’s look at the options!

1. Textbooks 

This, of course, might be the most obvious choice. There are dozens of different curriculum textbooks available online and in bookstores, and so it really comes down to which book works best for what you would like to teach.

There are some focused on grammar or conversation, as well as some that are equivalent to a normal level 1 coursebook. You can check out some options for Spanish textbooks here to get you started. Here’s the break down about textbooks:

Does it provide quality material?

The quality of textbook material varies. If you do your research, you can find textbooks with high-quality content. A lot of general textbooks, though, do not cover modern-day vocabulary or provide useful conversation skills.

As an ESL teacher, I have worked with a lot of curriculum and, sadly, found most of them lacking. I often had to accompany the bookwork with additional exercises and activities. If you do decide to use a textbook as a way to earn credit, be aware that your child will not get practice speaking the language or using it in a real-life setting.

Does it provide high school credit?

If you are homeschooling on your own, this is probably the most straightforward and easy way to make sure your child earns credit for a foreign language. You can buy a book at the level you want credit for, and put it on the child’s transcript. However, if your child is studying through another school (charter or otherwise) you need to present the curriculum to them. Again, since it is a published textbook, it is the easiest way to ensure your child receives credit.

Is it affordable?

Textbooks are probably the cheapest option to earn credit. Keep in mind, though, that a book cannot teach every aspect of a language. If you are only interested in credit and not mastering a language, then this might be your best option.

2. Private tutors

I have been on both the giving and receiving end of private language classes, and I have to say, I really like them! 

Do they provide quality material?

The great thing about private tutors is that they accommodate your needs. Whether you need assistance with a specific book or simple support with conversational skills, the tutor will teach accordingly. Tutors also provide a resource that fills in the gaps of a textbook-only course. They can work from a book that you have chosen and help your child master the listening and speaking aspects of language. 

Do they provide high school credit?

Again, if you are creating your own transcripts, this definitely qualifies as credit. If not, you will need to present the curriculum that will be used by the tutor (textbook or course outline) to your school for approval.

Are they affordable?

Unfortunately, this is where the idea of private tutors falls flat for me. Native speakers and quality teachers usually charge between $20-$50 an hour for classes, which can add up very quickly.

You would need to meet at least once a week (more if possible to make sure you are retaining the information), so you’re looking at over $1,000 for tutelage over the course of one school year. Not to mention the cost of any materials you need and possible travel costs to meet the tutor.  

3. Rosetta Stone Software

As a language teacher and translator, I have worked with a lot of people wanting to learn another language. The most common method that people have tried is Rosetta Stone. 

Does it provide quality material?

In terms of curriculum and content, Rosetta Stone provides excellent material. The curriculum is designed to push you towards fluency and teach you content that you would actually need and use in a real-life setting. You can also practice the speaking and listening aspects of language with their interactive technology. In my opinion, however, technology does not replace real, personal conversation. Rosetta Stone is a great place to start learning a language, but I have yet to hear of it producing fluency.

Does it provide high school credit?

Like textbooks, this language-learning method is very common for homeschooling families looking to give their child quality language classes while earning high school credit. Rosetta Stone is commonly accepted for credit as it is internationally acclaimed. 

Is it affordable?

In comparison to private tutors, Rosetta Stone is very affordable, at $179 per level. This is about $100-$150 more than what you can expect to spend on language textbooks, but you are paying for interactive content and technology.

4. Online Classes

With everyone’s busy schedules, more and more people are turning to online classes for just about everything. For language learning, this is my favorite option. You can connect with native speakers from around the world from the comfort of your own home!

Do they provide quality material?

If you are interested in online classes, make sure to do your research. There are many excellent sources for various languages with private online tutors, but some offer better curriculums than others. The available options depend on what language your child is interested in learning.

Spanish is a great choice and is the most sought-after language in the United States. Most online Spanish courses are geared towards younger children, which is why families end up choosing programs like Rosetta Stone to make sure their kids get high school credit.

One of the best, high-quality options for Spanish classes with credit is Homeschool Spanish Academy. They cater to children of every age, offer credit, and provide a downloadable curriculum to study at home and present to your umbrella school if necessary.

Do they provide high school credit?

Not all online programs offer high school credit. Some of them actually have a maximum age limit of about 12. You could opt for online tutoring, which would be the same idea as private tutors, just online. Depending on the location, they might not have their own curriculum, so the classes may not be approved for credit by charter schools.

If you are interested in the Spanish language, check out Homeschool Spanish Academy and their free trial class. They are approved by numerous charter schools and do offer high school transcripts. 

Are they affordable?

The prices for online classes range from $6 – $45 per session. For a breakdown of commonly used platforms, click here. The most popular options are Italki, at $30 per class and Homeschool Spanish Academy at $9.98 per class. They can be quite affordable for private classes at $599 a year, or be as much as $1,000 per year.

Get Started Earning Foreign Language Credit!

Making sure your child gets the best high school education can be overwhelming at times, especially when you don’t necessarily have the expertise to teach subjects such as foreign language. However, I hope that this list provides you with a great place to start weighing your options and preparing for the next school year. Remember, establish what your goals for language learning are first, then see which option for high school credit best aligns with those goals.

Ashley Reid

About the author

I have lived in Latin America for 6 years now, and I have worked as an ESL teacher, translator, and missionary during that time. I absolutely love languages and am always learning a new one. However, Spanish is my preferred language! I am a happy wife and mom to an adorable baby boy. In my free time, I love drawing and painting portraits and reading fantasy novels.

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  1. Hi, I'd like my homeschooler kid (10th grade) to learn Indonesian language (I know it's not common but I'd like him to be able to converse with his grandparents and extended family in Indonesia). But I can't find any online Indonesian language classes that would offer high school credit. Can we get the credit by calculating the total study hours (either online classes or using paper textbook)? I'd appreciate any input/ suggestions, Thank you.

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