Hello, and Happy Monday! This week we are starting off with a new series that I hope you will enjoy. We will be chatting regularly about raising a traveling tribe and some of the challenges, bonuses, and even tips on how to be a global family. We as a community here on Flying House represent many different countries, languages, and cultures. I hope these discussions will be positive and we can grow together as a community as we learn more about being families with a global perspective!
One of the hardest challenges we have ever faced as parents has been putting our kids into new schools where they do not speak the language. Even talking about it now brings a tightening to my chest. The first week is always the worst. Dropping them off and knowing that they are going to be stressed and will feel out of place is like a death dagger to the heart of us parents who claim to care about our children. Why put them through such misery?
Sometimes I wonder why we even do it? Why is it so important to me that my kids learn foreign languages?
First, I believe it builds confidence, which might sound strange after I just described the first days of school for my kids. The truth is that after a few months of fighting through the stress of language learning, they come out stronger and more confident than ever before. Second, they are not limited by their language skills in social situations and every now and then they get to brag that they are trilingual. And that is pretty cool stuff!
Learning other languages also gives them skills in other areas of their lives and research shows that the more we use the brain, the smarter we are! The more languages they learn, the easier it also becomes to learn another and it gives them more skills and options for work when they are grown. Kids who speak more than one language also feel more at ease when they visit other countries with languages they have never even heard because they are okay with just listening and following other cues around them to assess what is going on in a variety of situations.
I have thought a lot about what it would be like if we were to live in the States again or if we had never left. What kind of foreign language skills would they have? I think times are changing in the States and more and more people are seeing a need for their children to acquire foreign languages at a younger age to help with later proficiency. But, are there things that we as parents can do to help our children learn languages?
What do you think? Is it important for children to study foreign languages whether they move abroad or not?
Here are a few helpful tips to consider if you would like to help your kids learn more foreign languages:
1. Read to them in another language. We have loads of books in several languages and they sit on the shelf with all the English books. Sometimes we grab one and read about colors in Spanish!
2. Enroll them in a foreign language summer camp. Maybe you don’t have the option of a bilingual year-round school, but why not try a four week immersion camp? My daughter LOVED the French one she attended prior to our move to Morocco!
3. Speak to them in another language. Even if you are not proficient, use the words that you know. Exposing kids to other sounds and the idea that there is more than one way to say “milk” will really help them down the road!