Travel and Multicultural Kids: Post from Bilingual Babes
While we are enjoying some extra snuggle time with the Monkeys, we are so pleased to be able to bring you a series of posts from some of our favorite bloggers.
Today’s post comes to you from Tallulah of Bilingual Babes. Long-time readers know that Tallulah and I have collaborated for quite some time now, trading guest posts (such as hers on Helping Kids Deal With Being Different and her post for our Random Acts of Kindness Series), participating in the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism, or working together as fellow members of the Multicultural Kids Blogs group.
Tallulah is not only kind and thoughtful, she is always eager to jump into new ventures and is unfailingly generous in her support of other parents working to raise their children to be bicultural and/or bilingual. Today she shares her thoughts on the importance of travel to multicultural kids.
How important is travel when bringing up bilingual, bicultural children? This is a question I ask myself every time I check the cost of flights to Ghana!
These days of course you can achieve an awful lot from the comfort of your armchair (or more likely computer chair). It’s easy to connect with people all over the world, and we often Skype our relatives in Ghana and our friends in France. The kids love “taking their cousin upstairs to show her their bedroom” on the iPhone Skype app… which still blows my mind, as a child of the internet-sparse 80’s!
There are also a ton of internet resources to help you learn a language, from the clever Duolingo to wonderful websites aimed at children (my favourite French ones are listed here).
And children can learn an awful lot about different languages & cultures right where they live, through carefully chosen dolls, toys & books, as well as celebrating cultural events and spending time with those who speak the language and live the culture.
Saying all that, can anything really beat a real live trip to the country? The sights, the sounds, the smells, everything is a bit different and exciting! We’ve not yet made it to Ghana with the children (we were actually booked on a flight last Christmas, but the airline went bust…) and I feel that this will be an important part of their cultural and language awareness when we finally get there. I long for my children to see that their skin tone is not always the minority one and that Twi is the favourite language of so many. I think these kinds of things cannot really be explained, they can only be experienced.
As for France, it is right next door and so far easier and, importantly, cheaper, to get to! I’ve documented all of our trips here:
First ever trip to France (Aug 2008: Schmoo 3, Pan-Pan 1)
2nd trip to France (Oct 2011: Schmoo 6, Pan-Pan 4)… no post, so must’ve been an exhausting trip!
3rd trip to France (Feb 2012: Schmoo 7, Pan-Pan 5)
4th trip to France (Apr 2012: Schmoo 7, Pan-Pan 5)
As a result, France is a very “real” place for the children and they are well aware that French is a living breathing language. They have a sense of French weather, food and landscape as something distinct from that the UK.
So I can see the importance of travel when trying to bring culture & language into my children’s lives, but I’m so glad we live in the internet age, which makes the rest of the time so much easier!
Thank you to Tallulah for today’s post! Tallulah is bringing up her children, Schmoo (age 8) and Pan-Pan (age 5), to speak 3 languages: English, French (non-native) and a little bit of Twi. Her blog is “the story of our multilingual misadventures, involving 2 children, 3 languages, and a great many chocolate bribes in my attempts to bring language and positive identity to our kids.”
You can read more about their adventures and Tallulah’s research on multicultural products at Bilingual Babes. You can also visit Bilingual Babes on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Lovely post Tallulah – It is so nice that you have been able to travel to France so often and I can’t wait to read a post about your Ghana trip. It must have been so difficult to have to cancel your plans because of the airline.
Skype is awesome for faraway relatives, but I know what you mean about wanting them to be able to travel and be immersed in the culture and language. I hope that you’re able to visit Ghana soon- I imagine it will be a life-changing trip for your kids! I’m headed over to see your resources for French:).
I think travel makes the foreign countries so much more “real” to kids. Visiting Montreal a couple summers ago definitely had that effect on my kids, and I remember how much my worldview changed when my parents took me to Mexico when I was four years old – in ways that no amount of internet education ever could have. Here’s hoping I get to take my kids on more international travels soon – but even visiting different states within the United States can be quite a cultural experience.