Planning a holiday for a family can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to balance what everyone will enjoy doing with everything they will need. So the mere idea of throwing in learning a little language to that mix if you are going somewhere that doesn’t speak English might sound like the straw that’ll break the camel’s back. Think again! Here are some reasons why learning the local lingo might be good for everyone.
Peace of mind
Understanding menus, street signs and the words for places like toilets and pharmacies can go a long way to reassuring you when travelling with small children. Knowing how to ask for directions if you’ve gotten lost will not only soothe fraying tempers, but might also save your pennies; taxi drivers are the same the world over and will spot an unsuspecting tourist a mile off!
Everything looks so different on the menu and specials board when overseas; especially through the eyes of kids! But if you can point out that le poulet is chicken and bocadillo is a kind of sandwich, perhaps you’ll be surprised by what you can get them to eat, and even tempt them to try something new!
Your kids probably already understand the subtle language you use for things like bedtime or bath time if they are the things they typically avoid. If you can say these in another language when on holiday, you have an advantage; at least for the first few times you try them!
We know, as adults, the importance of learning languages, and what better way to encourage a love of languages in our children than to let them speak for themselves. From naming all the different animals in a zoo in German, to choosing flavours of gelato in Italian, there are so many ways you can make language learning fun—for both you and your children.
Building the excitement
Sometimes anticipating a holiday can be just as much fun as the holiday itself. Don’t feel embarrassed! Buy yourself a phrasebook or go the extra step and sign up for classes in your language of choice with language providers like FluentU, Memrise, or Listen & Learn—adding a little language fun to your preparations can be fun for everyone. Need to convince a reluctant packer? Try teaching them the words for everything they’re taking as they’re doing it. They would rather play games than do homework? Compromise with a language game. The possibilities are endless; you just have to get creative!
If you’re the kind of person that likes to keep mementos from your holidays, scrapbooking or making photo albums can incorporate a little language as well. From titles of pages to favourite remembered phrases, there is a way to keep the memories of your holiday vivid, as well as the language you used.
Back to reality
Yes, of course, the last thing you want to think about when taking a holiday is going back to work. But that little bit of language you choose to learn when travelling could not only inspire you to make language learning a hobby, but will also look good on your CV. And as for the kids, it might help them get ahead in any language classes they take in school or spark an overall interest in languages in general. Or, perhaps, it might just give all of you the travel bug and an appetite to keep learning languages wherever you go!