By Shannon Hanrahan • June 10, 2015
School’s out and the kids are starting to get restless already. My parents kept my sister and me busy all summer long with camp, tutoring, and occasional beach trips to spice it up. One thing that I wish we had started earlier in my life and spent time working on over the summer when we didn’t have much extra work to do was learning a foreign language.
Teaching a child a second language is one of the most beneficial things a parent, or school for that matter, can do for their kids. Not only is it an amazing educational skill to have, but it is also a life skill that will take them far beyond their years behind the books. From family bonding time to more job opportunities to traveling, learning a new language is an experience that cannot be missed out on. Also, being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age. So check out these tips on how to you can make becoming bilingual fun and easy this summer for everyone in the family.
Camps are one of the most common and easy ways to occupy kids during the summer. It keeps them active, around like-minded and aged children, and gives parents their needed time by themselves. See if you can get your kid into a camp to focus on their desired language; there are one specifically designed for Spanish, French, Mandarin, German and more. All you have to do is some research to find exactly what program will work for you and your child. From games to fieldtrips to everything in between, there are camps for just about everyone.
Coming from a kid who had a summer reading list followed by a book report and a math exercise book every single summer until high school, I know that it isn’t going to be every kid’s summer camp dream to be essentially studying. So if you can afford it and they are ready, there are international camps that are available that take learning a new language and culture to a whole new level. I don’t know many kids that would turn down a cool vacation when offered. You could even use this as a goal after a few years of language camp are completed. There is nothing like a challenge to incentivize.
An even better way for your kids to learn a foreign language is if you all learn it together at home. If you speak a language already great, start there so they can have an extra resource. You could also just pick something completely new and start fresh with them. It is an amazing bonding experience to learn a new language together and is sure to come with many laugh-worthy moments. Using a program like Rosetta Stone makes learning a language fun and affordable, especially with the Rosetta Stone promo codes that we have available on our site. Even better, this amazing language learning software can be brought with you on road trips or vacations, so there really is no reason why a lesson can’t be snuck in every day.
Need some ideas on how to make it fun? Do it at the same time every day and make a tradition out of the lesson. Maybe you take the dogs for a walk every day and listen to the tape together or cook dinner together while it is on. No one said that you can’t multi-task while you are learning a foreign tongue. Then once you are getting the hang of the new language, you can start challenging each other. Only speak in that language around the house, change the setting on your electronics to that new language of choice, or watch your favorite movie dubbed (with English subtitles to make it a bit easier). This will reinforce what you are learning and make it more relatable, since a lot of time you aren’t learning words you would typically use in a normal day-to-day setting.
I don’t think I have to convince you of the significance of learning a second language or tell you why starting your kids at a young age is a great idea, but I will say it anyway. Having your child become bilingual and starting early will not only help them retain what they are learning better, but it can also open them up to so many more opportunities in the future. It is becoming more and more common for companies to look for candidates that know multiple languages. It can also open them up to opportunities and experiences all over the world. In addition, traveling will be easier and probably more exciting to them because they can fully immerse themselves into a country’s culture, without having language as a barrier.
Whether you are starting your kid’s foreign language education at camp or in the house this summer, always make sure that it is a fun activity and they have something to immediately gain from it. I am not suggesting that you bribe them per say, but I am not sure that their future education and job opportunities, especially if they are young, are going to matter to them, when they would rather be spending time at the beach or pool. Make it fun and join in with them. It is never too late to learn something new!
Shannon Hanrahan Shannon is a LA transplant from Philadelphia and a social media junkie. When she is not Pinteresting or Instagraming away, she enjoys eating dessert first, traveling to new places, and being a self-proclaimed DIY expert (aka HGTV addict).