Cultural Exposure – Reality check for your kids

Cindy TracyJun 20, '09

Going out for Mexican food for dinner last night inspired me to write this article.

Whatever language your child (or YOU!) is studying (except Latin) - try to find an opportunity to use it in the community at least once a month. You don't have to be able to afford a trip overseas. Just find an ethnic restaurant!

Spanish is pretty easy - Mexican, Cuban, etc. restaurants or grocery stores. Chinese is the same - find instances where your children can actually practice some of what they have learned. This practical use is one of the reasons I look for curriculum to sell that teaches the language that you can actually use in the real world. Being able to put that studying to practical use helps give you an incentive to learn more.

I remember studying Spanish for 3 years in middle and high school before we went on vacation to Mexico. Being a teenager, I thought I knew it ALL and was totally fluent. I told my parents that I would translate for them since they could not speak Spanish. They were wise enough to reserve comment until we got there!

I still vividly remember my first attempt to use my Spanish. I could speak well, but had NO IDEA of what the person had said back to me. They spoke extremely fast and used "conversational" Spanish, while I had learned "proper" Spanish. That is when I realized I still had a lot to learn and wanted to work on being able to understand Spanish. This is why I now recommend buying software that teaches more than "basic" vocabulary and as much as possible, watching movies in the language, so you become accustomed to different accents and slang expressions. Watching movies with English subtitles may not give you the "exact" translations of what is being said (subtitles often leave a lot to be desired), but it will help your oral comprehension and once your fluency increases, watch a French film with FRENCH subtitles, so you know exactly what is being said.

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