Around the world family travel is thrilling and something we at Soultravelers3 have been doing non-stop since 2006 and loving it all, so see no end in sight. International family travel rocks! Four continents, 32 countries, 175,000 miles ( most overland) thus far, but this will be the first year we totally circumvent the globe. We plan to continue with our family travel budget of just 23 dollars a day per person or less!
"To solve most of the major problems facing our country in the 21st Century require every young person to learn more about other world regions, cultures and languages" Colin Powell
"Ours is a world of 24-hour-news cycles, global markets, and high-speed internet. We need to look no further than our morning paper to see that our future, and the future of our children, is inextricably linked to the complex challenges of the global community. And for our children to be prepared to take thier place in that world and rise to those challenges, they must first understand it." Roderick Paige, Former U.S. Secretary of Education
NEW CHALLENGES & MONOLINGUALS RAISING A FLUENT TRILINGUAL
This travel year is very exciting but will also bring new challenges as we have never used this many planes and are going to new parts of the world that none of us have been to before. We will be traveling with just a small day pack each for 7 straight months of travel. We are modifying our plans, some based on what we have learned by doing and also Mozart's age. We had planned to go to Africa next for a long stay and then South America and ship our RV with us. Instead, we will start wintering in Asia for the next few years so Mozart can become very fluent in her third language, Mandarin Chinese as well as the culture.It is clear with demographics that China and Asia will play a strong part in her generation's future.
Mozart's Mandarin Chinese writing after school preparing for Asia after all day in Spanish school
We have loved Europe so much and it's unique travel educational advantages with languages, history and great museums, plus ease of life on a low budget, that we have stayed two more years than originally planned. Since we really just follow our bliss and the weather our "plans" are just a broad stroke reference point to guide us and we never mind stretching them to fit our needs.
Mozart & Spanish friend jumping into pool this weekend during sleep over fun.
We still plan on getting to Africa and South America, but because Mozart is 9 this year and now extremely fluent in Spanish reading, writing and speaking, we realized that it was time to get to Asia so she can do the same with her Mandarin.
There is a myth that says a child who is proficient in speaking a language is fluent, but this is just not so as there are different levels to being "fluent" in a language. Proficiency in face-to-face communication doesn't imply proficiency in more complex academic language needed in a classroom or in life. Mozart has been fluent in Spanish from birth, but having gone to a local school in Spain now for 4 winters where she was totally immersed with teachers who spoke no English, her "fluency" level is much greater than any other way we, as monolinguals could have given her.
Living where the language is dominant makes a huge difference in perception and value. Just being in Europe where many languages are spoken (and it is not uncommon to be fluent in three or four for Scandinavians & Dutch), has great value in demonstrating the advantage, first-hand to a child, as our world grows smaller each day. Even at home, from birth, we always looked to ways we could expose her to other languages and cultures on a regular basis. We feel that a child that is very fluent in the dominant languages of the planet will have a firm foundation.
Mozart's 4th grade "Lengua" book has her studying Spanish like the Spaniards
My experience goes along with the research that says kids learn languages much easier before puberty. The brain is wired for it then. Thus we realized we wanted to allow her to immerse deeply in her third language while she was still young enough to make that an easier acquisition. She did speak Mandarin as a baby and toddler, but once we saw how much work it was for the parents who do not speak the language, we have focused more on adding Spanish proficiency because both DaVinci and I speak some Spanish. Hopefully, the dendrites made in the baby years will help in this phase. We'll see. It takes daily practice in each language as well as her daily practice with two instruments, so they are all long term commitments.
Close up of her Lengua book for the curious
I will do a blog series and e-book on second ( and 3rd) language learning as we have learned a lot as monolinguals raising a trilingual polyglot from birth who also speaks bits of many other languages. For some reason, languages have always been an area that has fascinated me. Mozart always seemed to enjoy them too, even had happy kicks when we exposed her to them in the womb. We actually used her Dad reading her favorite story in Spanish to get her to change position when we got the ultrasound done to discover her sex inutero because we knew she always had a "happy kicking" reaction and needed her to move so we could see if she was a girl or boy. I think knowing other languages and cultures will really benefit our 21st century global citizens, so am a strong proponent. Knowing a language well means knowing a culture more deeply.
"When we learn a new language, we're not just learning new vocabulary and grammar, we're also learning new ways of organizing concepts, new ways of thinking, and new ways of learning language. Knowing two languages is much more than simply knowing two ways of speaking" ( Bialystok & Hakuta, 1994, p. 122).
Mozart's "dictado" notebook where the kids practice their Spanish writing skills
Thus we have carved a new plan. Our RV is a 1998 one, so this impacted our decision, as well as our love of Europe, especially now that we know how to see it's best on a very low budget. We decided to just store it here indefinitely as it makes a perfect home/storage unit/vehicle for Europe that we can maintain at very low cost. We think we can summer in Europe, winter in Asia ( plus eventually Oceana) and do spring and or fall trips to Africa, South America and the Middle East. We'll try out this new plan this year and see how it works as we learn along the way.Waddyathink?
We'd like to do Madrid, Miami, San Francisco, Hawaii, Tahiti, Malaysia ( and various SE Asia stops while we winter there),this fall and winter, then see friends & Taj Mahal in India on the way back to Europe next spring. But we haven't even started looking at flight planning yet, so the details are still up for grabs and may change.This summer's roadtrip in Europe will be less ambitious due to the planning time needed for this change and the extra work of my book and e-books. Can't wait to take Mozart back to Paris as she approaches 10, visit the Swiss Alps, Lake Como, and more of our beloved Barcelona and Provence.
Watching a fisherman on the lovely road we take every week to see my physical therapist
As we get ready for this big transition that will start in May and because I have a lot to do this year, I'm going to try and force myself to do shorter posts.( She says again, but can she really do it? Grin.) I'm also going to change the Family Travel Photo category to just Family Travel. We have so many photos that you have never seen, so this will also be a great way to share more of our photography that you will love. I'll still do some longer posts, but need to put my limited time on the computer into the book and travel preparation for now. .
So what do you think? Feel free to ask any questions, offer feedback or ideas about any of these places on our list or your experience with languages, cultures and travel. Always nice to compare notes!