Traveling Abroad for Language Exposure

How Traveling Abroad Gives You and Your Child the Ultimate Language Experience.

Fluency in a language comes from practice. Getting kids to practice the language in dual language programs is sometimes enough for some but not for children. Many families opt to practice and learn a language abroad.  

traveling abroad with kids
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Dual language immersion programs are known for immersing students in two languages following a structure that facilitates language exposure. In addition to immersing students in language, these programs aim to provide and teach participants the target language culture. Learning about the culture of a target language is an essential component and experience of the immersion experience. 

We know that language development comes with challenges that, as parents, we must overcome. Sometimes, our kids may need to be more excited about using the target language. At the same time, others may have language skills and still need to practice the language. It is often more burdensome when the majority need to learn the language.  

Why travel abroad

If you are a parent passionate about ensuring your child becomes bilingual in a second language, consider immersing your child in language exposure by traveling abroad.  I know this may sound extreme for some families, but as we aim for bilingualism, traveling abroad is the ultimate experience any language learner should have. 

This is the ultimate experience of a language learner because it provides the cultural and linguistic expertise that dual language immersion programs aim to deliver. Language exposure traveling abroad provides a natural setting for kids to use and hear the language they learn in school. In addition to the language exposure that a child gets from traveling abroad, this is also a great way to bond with your child and share.

Benefits of traveling abroad

The benefits of traveling abroad are limitless. The experience provides a rich cultural and social interaction that most people enjoy. Kids are obligated to use the language, which allows for more practice, provides a cultural experience, and shows the importance of learning languages.

Provides a cultural experience

Remember that learning a language involves learning that language’s culture. A visit abroad provides a child with the cultural immersion schools aim to give students in a classroom. This social interaction will allow your child to see what they have learned by connecting what they learn in school. 

In addition, this experience allows them to apply what they know about that language and culture. They might even feel excited about being able to share what they know with you and others. Exposure to another culture is always exciting because we often find different foods, music, community, and educational settings. 

Increase the use of the target language

Teachers are constantly working on getting kids to engage in a target language in a learning environment. This is a challenge that many teachers face trying to get students to use the language they are learning. Still, many students refuse to use the language with each other because they might be embarrassed to speak or afraid to make mistakes.

Traveling to another country allows a child to use the language they know in natural social interaction. As they begin to use the language, you will see that the more they use it, the more comfortable they become in retrieving what they are learning. An experience abroad will also force one to speak to others.

Allows for more practice

Using the language to communicate basic information opens doors to additional practice. If staying at a hotel, they may be forced to communicate with staff members. The practice may also come from ordering from a menu or visiting museums or other tourist places. 

There are different ways to get kids to practice a language. When traveling abroad, practicing a language may begin when you arrive at the other country’s airport. The point is that because only some in another country speak English, your child can get more practice using the language. Most people abroad get excited about sharing their culture and using their native language with others. 

Shows the importance of learning languages

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how some kids hesitate to use and practice a language in the US. A language exposure traveling abroad will show your child the importance of being bilingual. They will see how learning another language opens doors to other cultures and experiences. 

Students often discuss the importance of being bilingual; however, seeing how one can communicate and engage with others using multiple languages is an eye-opener when traveling abroad. In some countries, your child might see how younger kids learn and use various languages regularly. 

When to travel abroad

Now you might wonder how I know when to travel abroad. The timing of traveling abroad depends on everyone’s situation.

If you have family members that live abroad

Undoubtedly, it is easier for immigrant families to learn a language abroad when they have families in their native countries. If you have families that live abroad, visiting friends or family members should become part of your yearly routine.  Visiting your country should start as early as possible. 

Frequent visits will help you build relationships and make connections. This will also show your child that learning a language facilitates relationships in different places. The more your child is exposed to that country, the more they will use and hear the language.  

I am one of the fortunate moms who have family members abroad. As an immigrant in the USA, I have traveled with my kids to my home country. Traveling with my kids to visit family members has given them the ultimate cultural experience and connection. Additionally, our trips allow them to use Spanish because no one else speaks another language.

One intentional thing I try to do is to switch to Spanish only when we are abroad. This shows them that they have to also switch to using the language and communicating with others. I also plan gatherings where I am not always with them, forcing them to communicate with others around them.

Traveling abroad (no family members)

If you do not know anyone you can visit abroad, you’ll want to decide when to begin traveling abroad to expose your child to the language. Traveling may start as soon as you can afford it or one to two years after your child has learned the language. When you decide to begin these travels, don’t forget that you might need a bilingual dictionary if you are not fluent in the target language. A paper dictionary will give you access to translation when you have no internet connection.

The key to learning a language abroad is planning a trip to expose your child to the language. This may be a trip to a resort for the first time until you get comfortable in that country. If you do a resort, allocate some time for tours around the area. Talk to a travel agent or tour guide to get an idea of how to safely access other parts of the country. 

How to choose a country 

Choosing a country to travel to might be challenging, depending on the language your child is learning. The country you select must speak the language your child is learning. You’ll need to do an international travel experience with careful consideration of the country you’re pursuing to visit. 

Consider your previous exposure to other countries if you have traveled abroad before. A country familiar to you is more straightforward to visit and navigate. Talk to friends and families in the USA who may have experience traveling to a particular country. If possible, partner with another family or friend. Consider contacting someone from that country who may refer you to a specific area. 

Search online for information about that country. Some websites compare countries’ lifestyles for incoming visitors to countries such as Latin America. 

Language exposure traveling abroad – Risks

As in every experience, some risks come with traveling abroad. Be cautious as you make decisions and be extra careful when in a country abroad. Many countries are safe within a resort, but things may differ when you come outside the resort. Take safety precautions, such as carrying paper spray or a money pouch that will help you keep your money safe.  See a list of items that may help keep your cash discrete and secure.


Conclusion

Whatever you choose, remember that learning a language abroad provides language exposure and a wonderful experience. You may start with a short trip to make connections and learn about the country. Some may choose to visit multiple countries over time when the language you are targeting allows for that. Please get to know people and their culture. You show your child the importance of learning languages and the surrounding cultures by visiting a resort. 

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

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