More Than Just Night Classes – How TLC Helps Homeschool Families

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Connie Barrow, a nurse practitioner from White House who homeschools her two kids, Wesley (age 15) and Shannon (age 13). They have been attending our classes since January and just recently completed their third term. She sits patiently in our lobby twice a week for two hours while Wesley and Shannon take their evening world language classes and has become a dear friend of ours.

One of the reasons Connie sought us out was because of her son’s interest in learning Russian. Private video lessons with an instructor based in the Ukraine sparked an interest in attending an in-person class. With a quick search on the internet, Connie found TLC.

The combination of the private tutoring and attending our in-person classes year round is how her kids achieve the required amount of homeschool credit every year. Although year round classes are a big commitment, Connie appreciates the continuity of the language learning and says it quickly became about more than just achieving the school credit – both kids are very committed to and excited about learning their prospective languages.

Connie says that one of the perks of studying here is that her kids can be around adult learners who take their language studies seriously. Her kids don’t have to worry about other students in class goofing off or distracting them from learning.

She also really appreciates the breadth of world language options when compared to regular school systems who typically only offer a few language options. As a mother, she thought it was important that her kids have the option to choose their own language interests from a large variety of options. Having lots of choices helps them think outside the box and enjoy being different. She is very proud that her kids authentically picked their own languages to study and believes it shows them that learning to pursue personal goals and dreams is valuable. “Sometimes teenagers feel the need to conform, but they need to know that it’s okay not to conform. I definitely recommend TLC to homeschool parents. Even if it’s not for credit, it encourages independence even within their own family and gives them something that makes them unique.”

Pictured are Wesley and Shannon Barrow after class.

I was also very happy to hear that both kids absolutely love their teachers. Wesley’s Russian teacher, Tatiana Logsdon, is a native of Russia. Wesley enjoys the stories she shares from her homeland, the culture, and learning what it is really like to live there. Shannon enjoys French because it is different from what her big brother is studying, but also because her French teacher, Jennifer Pitts, is consistent and understands what it is like to be in her student’s shoes with learning a language from scratch. Also, Shannon’s aunt lives in Quebec and speaks French, so it has been exciting for her to have that connection to her extended family members in Canada.

Connie has picked up some world language skills from her kids, too! She can say some basic sentences in Russian and French, thanks to her well-studied kids. The Barrow family recently attended the 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee event in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, where they got to meet and spend time with hundreds of different families from different countries and cultural backgrounds. The Barrow family believes that seeking out and celebrating diversity is important for their kids’ character development. “It is important to know there is a way to show kindness even if you can’t understand what the other person is saying. It is exciting to be in a multi-cultural setting. They are people from other places, but they are just like you and me. There is so much value in being bilingual.”

She also wanted to point out that it was a fairly easy process of registering her kids and getting all her questions answered. “I really like TLC’s gentle approach to helping us, whether on the phone or in person, it was important to me to ask questions. I absolutely recommend TLC to everyone.”

Our current class offerings are Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. If you are interested in getting more information or registering for classes, please visit our website at http://tlc.tennessee.edu or give us a call at 615-741-7579.

Takeaways: Knox Asian Festival

So, I was at the 6th annual Knox Asian Festival on Sunday, a beautiful celebration with so many diverse visitors.  My booth was right outside the food vendor area, and I saw some delicious-looking meals and smelled some wonderful smells throughout the day.  There were countless intricate costumes representing various Asian countries and fascinating rhythms as various artists performed behind us.

This was my first time at this festival, so I had no idea how many interactions were in store for me.  So many people are interested in learning another language, and we hope to supply that need in Knoxville.  I was so excited to announce that we are now able to offer French, Spanish, Japanese and possibly Mandarin classes beginning in October!

To be completely honest, I did have two favorite interactions during the festival.  One young teenager greeted me in ASL.  She also signed a likely response and waited.  I finally understood what she wanted and signed back, “I’m good.”  It was a quick but humbling experience.  I immediately wanted to know how to say more, but I can only very slowly sign my name.  Once she realized that, she asked, “Do you offer ASL?”  I had to admit that we currently don’t.  I’ve wanted to offer this world language before, but now more than ever!  Are you or do you know an ASL teacher?  If you do, please email heather.seybold@tennessee.edu to see if we can make it happen!

My other favorite interaction was with three young high school students.  They excitedly approached me to explain their new mission.  They are starting an Asian Culture and Language after-school club at their school.  One young lady wants to teach language but was unsure where to start.  I told her that we like to keep it practical around TLC.  If I’m learning a language, I’d much rather know how to say, “how are you?” and possible answers than know how to conjugate “are” without being able to use it in a sentence.  I suggested teaching simple phrases in context with a lot of listening and repeating.  After all, that’s how we all learned our very first language, and it’s the one we know the best!

These were also my youngest interactions from the festival, and I am so very thankful that a heart-felt interest in learning other cultures and languages is continuing into the next generation.  Thank you, Knoxville, for sharing your best side with me this weekend.

 

-Heather

Why to Choose TLC: A Student’s Testimonial

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As a child I was always fascinated with languages and culture, but I never thought I would be able to learn a language myself. I thought that was only for people with family from other places or people that moved out of the country. I took a German class in high school and a French class in college, but to be honest, I don’t remember anything. It was after I went to Guatemala on a mission trip and visited Spain with my best friend, that I really found the motivation and dedication to learn a new language. I adored both places that I visited, so naturally I chose Spanish. I googled classes one day in my free time and I chose TLC because it looked organized, professional, and effective. Not a week after that, I started my 1.1 Spanish class with Maya.

This began my journey with learning Spanish, and I instantly fell in love. A whole new world of language and culture was opened up in front of me. The teaching methods that Maya used and still uses are effective for all learning styles and her activities always apply to the grammar/vocabulary point of the class. I love the amount of conversation that we have. Part of the fun of language classes is that you talk about your personal life and the personal lives of those in your class with you. I have made friends that feel like family. Thursday night class is a highlight of my week!

At this point, I have been studying for two years and I am astonished at my progress. With Maya’s help, instruction, and constant encouragement, I have been able to achieve more in learning Spanish than I ever anticipated. The positive impacts of learning Spanish have been numerous. I am better able to communicate with my friends who don’t speak English. I am grateful for the friendships that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I have also taught English as a second language in the past. Knowing Spanish has helped me so much in helping students sign up and feel connected with me as we start the journey of learning English together. From patients in my previous medical clinic, friends from other countries, students learning English, and the ability to communicate when I travel, I am grateful for this skill. If you are considering learning a new language, I would highly recommend Tennessee Language Center. They strive for excellence in communication!