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Road Trip to Cultural Diversity: A Map for Language Learning

Aug 18, 2007
Who said the road to understanding your neighbor and traveling through foreign countries cannot be paved with golden moments of language fun? Summer is time for relaxation, reflection and road trips to places new and old.

Make the most of these treasured trips with learning opportunities you and your children will talk about for years to come. Below I hope to share with parents several tips for making the most of summer vacations; taking them from mundane to language learning moments.

Research your trip prior to leaving. The internet has made those days of having only AAA Road Maps as our travel guides long gone. We can now utilize those search engines not only for convenient holiday shopping but for travel plans extraordinaire! Find the best prices with your children at your side, teaching them the value of money and comparison shopping. Discover the native languages of your destination. Even U.S. locations sport a variety of languages spoken in surrounding communities. Check out DVDs, CDs and books from your local library featuring this new language so that your entire family enjoys a jump start on the language learning.

Plan your pit stops ahead of time with a purpose in mind. Shhhhh! Do not tell the kids, but put a little method into your madness by finding some cool places to stop along the way. Perhaps a little historical mound or cool museum of local interest could just pop into your plans. Or, if you are flying to your destination, ask friends and locals about some of the great hang outs that will allow you to feel the local flavors. We leave for Puerto Rico in a week, and my Puerto Rican amigas have made it their mission to hook us up with great pueblos to stop by and experience the local life!

Make meal time a math and practice time. Yes! Ordering a cerveza can provide you with the learning opportunity of the day! When in Rome, do as the Romans do so try it! Typically the locals in vacation destinations appreciate and respect visitors who attempt to speak their language. Encourage your children to order their lunch in the new language. Then use your knowledge of any money or conversion rates necessary to incorporate a little math over the summer time.

Visit cultural events, craft shows and local festivals. There is truly no better way to hear the language, experience the culture and feel the beat of the city you are in than to attend a fair, a craft show, an artisan market, an outdoor festival or something free and current during your stay. That internet research prior to leaving home should have drummed up some free family fun for your stay. Make the most of this local flair, and encourage the whole family to let go of their inhibitions as they practice the new language, sample the new tastes and experience a new way of life. You will notice the younger children embrace these opportunities while the teens and adults have to work at being childlike in their acceptance of new experiences.

We are the best teachers for our children and should welcome the chance to make summer a time for continued learning. Let us not allow our children to join the statistics of lost learning during summer months. Research suggests that children lose an entire month of learning during traditional summer break. Let us instead use the latest research that suggests the earlier you introduce a second language to a young child, the better.

Take a road trip and turn it into a golden opportunity for sharing another culture, language and life experience. Your children will reap the many benefits derived from early language learning while you reap the peace of mind that you are preparing them for a society rich in cultural diversity.
About the Author
Beth Butler is the founder of The Boca Beth Program,a fun and easy way to introduce Spanish to young children. Gather your children around the computer now and enjoy the bilingual music and movies for FREE at http://www.bocabeth.com. Order online or via their toll free number 1.877.825.2622.
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