Raising A Traveling Tribe: Teaching Kids Your Language

by Tina on February 3, 2014

in family, Raising a Traveling Tribe, Travel

traveling mama lake como italy

Our littlest son, Landon, surprised us the other day when he told us that he needed his pickaxe to chisel the wall and then later was a bit sad because his boosters were down on his rocket ship.  Besides the obvious fact that we marveled at his child-like imagination, it also lead us into an entire discussion about how he learned those words.

We have talked about teaching kids other languages, but what about teaching kids your language?  Our kids have hardly spent any time in the US and they go to Danish schools, so we are the main ones teaching our kids English.  We have often joked that if our kids said bad words we would have no one but ourselves to blame, but it is kind of true.  In many ways we do filter what words we use and though I might let a grammatical error go if we were in the US, I try to always correct them and not let them get away with calling things, “that thingy” or say, “You know what I mean.”

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If you are teaching kids your language, some ways to help widen their vocabulary are to allow them tv and film time in your language where they might learn new words that you might not normally use such as “pickaxe” and ” rocket boosters”.  Reading daily is another thing that we have done now for over three years.  Not only does it make them better readers, but it also exposes them to a wide variety of vocabulary.

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And lastly, talk to them.  We constantly talk to our kids, asking them all kinds of questions.  We also tell each other stories and daydream together.  I’m sure they will learn some new words when we visit the US later this year, but I still marvel at how fluent our children are. They are little sponges and just absorb the language without even thinking about it.

What about some of you?  Are there things you do to teach kids your language?  Maybe some of you were raised with another language in your home?


Photos: Lake Como, Italy, Summer 2013, by Jack Fussell

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Papou February 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

It’s going to be fun to watch and listen as they interact with their cousins!


Tina February 3, 2014 at 9:22 pm

totally! I’m sure their cousins will teach them plenty of new words. 🙂


Corinne February 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

You can never underestimate the power of conversation. I agree with all that you’ve stated here. As a teacher who lives overseas, I often think of language mine and whatever country I’m living in at the time. Great tips!


Tina February 3, 2014 at 9:23 pm



Quyen February 3, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Travel teaches us so much about ourselves and the world, and it is such a great opportunity for your kids to experience it at such a young age!


Tina February 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm

I couldn’t agree more!


Diane March 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm

The vocabulary thing is an interesting thing I haven’t thought about before. We’re probably going to send our son to international school when the time comes, but nevertheless it reminds me of when I arrived to study in France and realized I could discuss literature (in a manner of speaking…) but didn’t have the vocabulary to tell someone that their shoe was untied:) Love your blog, by the way–the fact that you lived abroad with kids (and chose to do it again!) gives me hope for the future:)


Rachel November 11, 2014 at 3:39 am

Hi Tina, I love your blog, especially hearing about your children & their global educational experiences – formal & as little nomads.
We are about to leave Australia to live in Copenhagen, so I’m very curious about your experience with the local Danish school system. I think we’ll do the same for our two girls 11 & 6. Scary for them but to have the chance to be bilingual, and immerse into a new culture….
Would love to hear more about your kids experiences Amin their Danish school.


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