This Is Why Parents Say It's Vital to Travel To Learn A Language
Travel had benefits for all of us. Particularly for our children. Our twin baby boys are mixed-race and mixed-cultured and equal importance will be placed on both sides of their heritage while maintaining a truly international worldview. We plan to raise them as true world citizens.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Mingke R. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
We plan to focus on a few areas to strengthen their cultural connections: language, exposure to different cultures, exposure to people from those cultures, and cultural holidays. We will achieve this by continuing to travel slowly.
We plan to live in different cities and countries for years at a time to fully immerse ourselves and our twin sons in the local culture and to promote the acquisition of multiple languages.
Language is a keystone of culture, giving insight into how people think.
My native language is Mandarin Chinese and I speak English fluently. My husband speaks English natively and Mandarin fluently. We both grew up monolingual and learned our second language as adults. Both of us found that a second language opens up parts of the world in ways that we never really knew existed. We both can speak with 2.5 billion people. Economically, an additional language opens up otherwise inaccessible opportunities. We want our children to grow up with those advantages and opportunities.
We lived in Toronto when we became pregnant. We moved to French-speaking Quebec City, Canada for most of the pregnancy and first year of our twin sons' lives. Many of their toys are in French and most of our interactions outside of the home are in French. We borrow library books in French to read to them, but their favorite book – Superchimp – is in English. They now have a foundation in French that can be expanded upon as they grow.
We have moved to China and speak primarily English to our sons at home while their nanny, grandmother, and extended family all speak Mandarin only. They fully understand English and Mandarin equally.
Our sons will be exposed to the local culture enrolled in the local school system wherever we are to learn the local language natively, absorbing it like a sponge. We will frequently visit local cultural sites, museums, galleries, and local points of interest to give our twin boys a rounded experience in each location. We will take short mini-trips to nearby locations, cities, and countries to give our boys even more travel experience.
You can’t know a place without knowing it’s people. Our twins will interact with local children of their age wherever we travel slowly. We will find local friends and model healthy adult relationships with people wherever we go. They will be enrolled in local cultural classes with local teachers.
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Holidays are a glimpse into a peoples’ soul. They demonstrate what people hold dear and important. Like Thanksgiving and Christmas in North America, they will experience Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), Chinese National Day and other holidays such as Dragon Boat Festival and Tomb Sweeping Day. When we move to other countries, we will be similarly immersed.
The thought of raising our twin boys to be true world citizens inspires me and motivates me to work hard toward my goals that and facilitate this lifestyle.
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Traveling slowly is how we will give our sons a deep connection to our multicultural world starting with their multicultural roots. They will learn languages through immersion in the local culture, education system and engagement with local people. Celebrating local holidays will give them cherished memories and a warm connection to each culture we experience as a family. My sons deserve the world and I will give it to them.
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