This is the time of the year when our social media feeds get filled with pictures of families holidaying – either on a relaxing staycation in their own home or out and about in the country or abroad. Whatever way you decide to spend your family holidays, it is always a great opportunity for bilingual children to consolidate their language skills, learn something new and, of course, have fun and enjoy their free time!
Time to do nothing and anything
I am a strong believer in not planning every single day of a holiday (and limiting the use of electronic devices). I think it is good for kids to be bored sometimes and have to come up with their own solutions for keeping themselves occupied. If your child is of a reading age, leave some new books, comics and magazines in strategic places at home – even better if they are in the minority language!
Time to broaden the horizons
Last week I wrote about how multilingual families are a force for good in today’s world – being generally more open-minded and culturally aware. Holidays are an excellent time to broaden your own and your children’s horizons even further – and you do not even have to leave your home to do it.
If you opt to stay at home, learn about a new culture and language using the internet – go to the library and find books about it and explore its cuisine by cooking some new dishes. Also, take a look at the resources available on Multicultural Kid Blogs for further ideas!
If you plan to travel, take the opportunity to explore at least some places where you haven’t been before, learn to know new people and look for different experiences. If this can be done in a lesser spoken family language, your children will learn new vocabulary as well!
Time to enjoy the family languages
Now is the time to arrange those Skype calls that never came to fruition when you were all busy with work and school. Get into a routine of chatting with family and friends, invite them over if you can.
The best language boost for kids is to be surrounded by people, especially other children, who speak the language. Travelling to a place where the language is spoken is the most effective immersion, but if that is not possible, invite fellow language-speakers to your home and have fun together.
Time to deepen the language skills
Relaxed off-time is good, and when you feel there is a need for some more structured activities, use the holidays to deepen your bilingual children’s language skills. Use the above ideas to introduce new vocabulary and situations to your kids. Alternatively, arrange some themed days at home where you focus on a certain topic – let your kids choose what they want to learn more about and you will have a greater chance of success!
Holidays are also the perfect time to plan ahead. Is there a change in sight for your children? For example, will your little one go to a different school after the holidays? Will there be some new subject on the school timetable? Think about anything that might be different after the holidays and then make sure to discuss this with your kids, introducing any new words and phrases they might need to know in their minority language to be able to speak about them.
Time to appreciate our languages
We bilinguals often take our language skills for granted and do not always appreciate what a gift they are. This is true especially when we have “just grown up” with the languages and do not feel that we have had to put in any extra effort to learn them. Think of all the monolinguals of this world who would be over the moon to be able to speak another language – you (and your children) already can do it, so take some time to appreciate and celebrate your family’s languages!