Learning English as a foreign language is more accessible in the 21st Century than ever before- you probably even have a translation app on your phone, but there are better, more effective ways to learn.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Immersion, which is how every child learns their first language, is widely regarded to be the most effective method for learning a foreign language. Even one-week immersion holidays with an English family can make a stunning difference to your child’s grasp of the English language.
What to look for in a total immersion English holiday
If you want to send your child on an English immersion holiday, what are the sort of things you should look for?
- A mixture of fun activities and structured lessons because children learn better when they’re having fun but some structure helps accelerate the process.
- Total Immersion: If there are too many French children on a homestay at once or the activities are only partly in English, the temptation to slip back into French will be too great.
- A like-minded family will help to ease your child into the immersion holiday; perhaps a family with children of the same age, who have similar hobbies or have pets that your child likes.
The best part is that your child can enjoy this experience in France with an English-speaking family - no passport required.
What to pack & why
Depending on the fun activities that the host family has planned, your child may need a swimming costume, walking shoes, or sports gear, so make sure to ask in advance if any special clothing is required.
Either way, your child should take what they feel comfortable in, whether that’s jeans or dresses or both.
It’s easy to bond over a favourite film, so your child might want to bring their favourite English-language DVD.
Younger children may feel comforted by taking a favourite toy whilst away from home, while older children may wish to take their mobile to stay in touch with friends from home.
If a child needs medication, the host family should be notified in advance. Children should take enough medication to last the length of their stay.
Being immersed in a language – in a family setting for instance – makes learning much easier and more natural.
Tips for shy children
It’s perfectly normal for your children to be nervous about meeting new people, especially if they’re going to be staying away from home for the first time. It helps to ensure that they will be paired with a family who has similar interests to yours or with children of a similar age.
If they’re worried, here are some things that can help:
- Emailing the family beforehand to introduce themselves
- Brushing up on their existing English skills by doing workbook activities
- Reading an English-language book or watching some English films with subtitles to begin immersing themselves
Learning a new language is about more than passing a test or getting an interview; it opens doors that we never knew were closed and leads to more opportunities than we can ever imagine.