Children typically enjoy an outing that is stimulating and fun, and when you add the element of language and culture, it becomes so much more memorable.
Libraries are a fabulous source for this type of learning experience. Families with children who are learning Mandarin, for example, should take a trip to the neighborhood library in a community infused with Asian culture, custom and food. Such libraries regularly offer Shadow Puppet Shows, Shadow Puppet Making, Chinese theater and other free programs that transport children to a far away place and provide them with the opportunity to walk away with a memorable and enriching experience. Organizations comparable to the New York Chinese Cultural Center (NYCCC) also offer amazing programs for children.
New York Italians (newyorkitalians.org), a non-profit organization and CampItalia, an Italian learning and cultural organization co-sponsored a free Italian class at a Long Island library that captured children’s attention, taught them words and fun phrases and then topped the event with a chance to put their newly learned phrases to work by playing a fun-filled and exciting game of Italian Bingo (Tombola)!!
Some renowned cultural and language institutes have created children’s programs and offer an “Open House” at their location once or twice a year. They offer free 45 minute lessons, time for the children to socialize and play with other children and have some cookies and drinks to boot. I find that children have a wonderful experience at these events and don’t think twice about why they might be there. While the children play and learn, parents can pick up information, ask questions and observe. If your child is already taking language lessons, attending this type of event not only reinforces what he has learned, but it exposes him to different people who speak the language by meeting new teachers and other students. It helps demonstrate to the child that the language he is studying is not spoken only at home and at his language school, but that others are speaking it too and having fun while doing so! An Open House is the ideal way for parents who are in the early stages of considering introducing their children to world languages to determine which language and whether the pedagogical style of the organization suits their child’s developmental stage and interests.
Also key, is the need to attend these events on a regular basis. Once a year is clearly not enough. Our family enjoys attending these types of events quarterly. Take some time to research your options and calendar them early on so that you and your children could enjoy these stimulating and fun events that complement their language learning.
Photos provided by CampItalia