One of the fabulous things about education today, is we can do it almost any where, which allows us lots of freedom as we roam the world. This photo is our daughter doing her Mandarin Chinese in her pajamas in California as she does every morning since we arrived from Germany in October.
She learned Mandarin in Barcelona and all along our world travels from Bangkok, to Bhutan to Jordan etc and she actually started learning it while in my womb ( along with Spanish and English) because that is when babies start learning languages. Even though we parents are monolinguals, my goal was always to raise a fluent-as-a-native trilingual/triliterate and purposely expose her to many languages and cultures.
"Not training our kids to be able to work and live in an international environment is like leaving them illiterate" David Boren
Soon she will be back at her Mandarin school in Asia as we think it is important to raise a global kid who is fluently multilingual and multicultural in today's world. We are eclectic homeschoolers, but find dipping into local schools can be the best way to learn to speak, read and write like a native and absorb the culture easily as a child....as well as building life long international friendships. We find this a MUCH cheaper, effective and enriching method than doing a private Mandarin school in America and allows us to keep on our $23/day per person travel lifestyle budget.
We like to return to the same school and did it for four winters in Spain, and now we are focused on Mandarin and love her school in Penang. This year is easier because we did the ground work last year, so going back to a place with friends that we know well.
I recently wrote about our travel schooling and was asked about how we keep up with all her languages as we travel.
Her Dean of Studies at her Mandarin school in Penang has been a huge help via Skype and we have used tutors ( online and off), various online programs including Johns Hopkins University CTY online classes and she has her books and work from her school as well as an electronic dictionary. She does some work every day in Mandarin, Spanish and English no matter where we are and that includes fun things like talking or writing to friends, reading books or learning songs in those languages.
That said, there is no better way to learn a language than to immerse in an all Mandarin environment like at her school in tropical Asia. And since languages are much easier to learn when you are a kid, we have decided to spend this whole school year in Asia just to increase her Mandarin and Chinese cultural immersion. ( The school goes from Jan to Nov but we got delayed due to my health issues and my mother's, so moved our scheduled Jan 3rd flight to this week ).
She is excited to get back to see her friends there soon and we will also tour many places in Asia this year including China as they get lots of school holidays. We find World Heritage Site Georgetown, Penang to be one of the best places in the world to immerse in Mandarin and Chinese culture as well as being a very cheap but luxurious base.
How have you learned languages at home and abroad? What are your best tips for keeping languages up?