As a parent, it’s normal to want to make your summer holiday the most fulfilling experience possible for your children. Holidays often last just a few days, but by learning a language with your child, a week-long trip can be transformed into an experience that fills the whole summer.
The experts at language learning app Babbel (www.babbel.com) share some of their favourite pre-holiday activities designed to help families embrace the culture of their chosen destination, making your summer holiday last well beyond the flight home.
Read a children’s book in a foreign language
If you’re jetting off to find the sun this summer, there are plenty of books that you and your child can read together in languages such as French, Italian and Portuguese. ‘Le Petit Prince’ has been loved by children and adults alike for decades and has been translated into 300 languages, so you can read the English version side by side in case you get stuck! Babbel also recommends ‘Bear’ by Bianca Pinheiro for a book which combines humour with learning, and why not read a childhood classic like ‘Pinocchio’ in its original Italian language? Reading can be a great way to wind down with your children after a long day of suncream shopping and flip-flop packing. Immersing yourself in a great story and reading aloud is a fantastic way to pick up a new language.
Make some changes to movie night
Another easy way to relax in the evening while getting your children absorbed in the language of the country you’ll be visiting is by having a movie night. Rewatch one of your favourites, but this time change the language to the lingo of your holiday destination and simply add English subtitles to help you along. Movies you’ve seen a thousand times will be transformed as Buzz Lightyear cries “to infinity and beyond” in Spanish and Simba sings your children’s favourite songs in French.
Cook up a foreign feast
Put some fun back into dinner time and have your kids share the cooking! If you’re going to Italy, look up the traditional Italian recipe for spaghetti Bolognese and learn some food vocabulary as you and your children prepare a foreign feast. For a treat in the morning, cook a sweet breakfast the Spanish way with a recipe for churros, a fried dough pastry usually eaten coated in cinnamon or sugar – your kids will be itching to visit Spain!
Revamp your rainy day games
You’re probably leaving the country this summer because you can never count on the English sun to stay forever. If our summer heatwave does come to a close, those rainy English days are the perfect opportunity to daydream about the sun you’ll be flying off to, and there are plenty of indoor games you and your family can play to exercise your language learning too. Match a picture with its translated word with games like Snap, or play Kim’s Game to learn the vocab of common objects around your house, where items are placed on a tray, memorised, and then one is removed. Before you know it, you will have counted down the days, and you and your children can set off on your travels like experts.