How Traveling Can Boost Your Kids Foreign Language Skills?

Do you want your kids to speak foreign languages, but it seems like your son and daughter have no interest in learning at all? Here is a tip for you. Don’t force your kids to study. This approach never works.

The best thing you can do is to take your family to a foreign country for a vacation. Traveling will help you to build intrinsic motivation in your children – your kids will start learning foreign languages on their own will without intervention from your side.

Let’s consider the major aspects of how traveling can improve the foreign language skills of your kids.

two girls sitting on-bench

Language barrier as an issue

Kids, who have never been to foreign countries, have no clear understanding of why it’s important to study languages. Living in an English-speaking country, children tend to think that the language barrier is “not a real thing”.

They wrongly believe that since English is the most-studied language, they will be able to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. Sadly, these beliefs prevent kids from improving their foreign language skills.

Do you want to encourage your kids to learn new languages? Show them that it’s really challenging to solve even a small problem abroad if you don’t speak a local language. Take a family trip to a country where most of the population has zero knowledge in English, and you will amaze your kids.

Imagine the situation. Your family is staying at a small hotel located far away from civilization, somewhere in Vietnam. You’ve lost a key and try to explain the situation to a Vietnamese who know just a few words in English. There is no Wifi working, so you can’t use an online translator.

How much time will it take you to fix the situation and get new keys? Maybe 20 minutes, or an hour. In any case, if this situation happens with you, your kids will see that the language barrier can turn a small problem into a big one. So they will want to improve their foreign language skills.

New friends and a new source of motivation

If your kids have high communication skills, the chances they will make new friends abroad. Trying to get acquainted with foreign children, your kids will learn a basic set of words and phrases in a foreign language. Your kids will memorize how to say “Hi”, “How are you?”, “What’s your name?” and many more phrases with ease.

And, most importantly, if your kids stay connected with their overseas friends, it will boost their motivation to learn a foreign language. Striving to enhance communication with non-English speaking pals, your children will memorize new words and grammar rules faster than ever before.

Besides, overseas friends will help your kids to learn popular slang words and improve pronunciation. If your kids chat with their friends on a regular basis, they will become fluent in a foreign language in a year or two.

A chance to learn more about new cultures

What motivates kids and adults to learn foreign languages the most? The desire to immerse yourself in a new unknown culture.

While traveling, your kids will explore new countries, taste unusual food, get acquainted with local traditions, see stunning art masterpieces, and many more. Thanks to overseas trips, your children will understand that this world is big and beautiful and that they need to speak more than one language to experience different cultures.

Only when you are fluent in a foreign language, you can understand how it feels like to “be a local”. You can get the true meaning of local jokes and get intimately acquainted with the cultures, lifestyles, and living conditions of other people.

Passive learning

While traveling abroad, your kids will hear foreign speech everywhere: on the bus, on the beaches, in restaurants, parks, etc. They will hear how locals are talking to each other while waiting in line. They will listen to local songs while walking in a shopping mall. They will be exposed to the sounds of a foreign speech, and that’s a good thing.

Scientists say that passive exposure to a foreign speech enhances the learning of foreign speech sounds. What does it mean? Basically, it means that after a 7-days trip, it will get easier for your children to distinguish one specific speech sound from another. Your children will be able to understand the speech of native speakers much better.

The desire to travel

If your kids get addicted to traveling, they will get eager to learn foreign languages. Here is why.
If you take your kids for a trip on a regular basis, they will get used to it. And they will want to keep traveling to new places in the future with or without you.

Naturally, when your children get older, they will start dreaming about their first solo trips. And then they will see it clearly that foreign language skills are a must.

Usually, teens think like this: “I want to go to Italy without my parents next summer. But how will I talk to the customs officer? How will I shop at local markets if I don’t speak Italian? If I want to make my dream trip happen, I need to start learning Italian right now!”

Do you get the point? To motivate your kids to learn foreign languages, you need to travel more often and take every opportunity to engage with locals.

5 tips on how to get the most of your trip and encourage your kids to learn a foreign language

Are you ready for a big trip with your kids? Here are five tips for you:

  • Allow your kids to choose a travel destination. For example, if your daughter dreams of seeing the Eiffel Tower, spend your family vacation in Paris. It’s highly likely that your daughter will start studying French once you make her dream comes true.
  • Choose recreational activities that will allow you to immerse yourself in a new culture. For instance, if you go to Cancun, don’t spend all your time in the hotel. Take a tour to Chichen Itza, a large city built by the Maya people, or go explore local Mexican markets.
  • Hire local guides. Yes, they speak with a strong accent. But they know more interesting stories and facts than non-local guides do.
  • Be a role model for your kids. Learn some essential words and phrases in a foreign language before your trip. When your kids see that you can communicate with foreigners without a translator, they will also want to practice their foreign language skills.
  • Challenge yourself. When you come to the restaurant, use the menu where everything is written in a local language (even if the menu in English is available). Try to guess the meaning of the unknown words – play this game together with your kids to spark an interest in language learning.

In conclusion

Now you know how traveling can boost your kids’ foreign language skills. So why don’t you start planning your next family trip right now? Show your kids all the beauty and diversity of this big amazing world and inspire them to become polyglots!

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