One of the best ways to explore the second language that you study with your children is by experiencing cultural events in your target language. It may take some time to hunt down those events, but once you do, they can become a part of your annual traditions that help boost your child’s interest and ability in your second language choice!
Enhance your child’s excitement about learning a second language by immersing him/her in fun cultural events!
How do we find out about events in our target second language?
I am a participant in many free yahoo groups, Facebook groups and mommy meetup groups that focus on Chinese learning with children. People in those groups are always posting wonderful events in Chinese for my family to check out! Often times, the events that get shared are for adventures that I would never have found otherwise. For example, one of my Mandarin-speaking mommy yahoo groups posts about Chinese book-fairs at local bilingual schools. The money helps out the school, but I can also buy and check out new Mandarin products for my kids! Win win!
10 Ways to Find Out About Cultural Events in Your Area:
1. Join yahoo groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!)
2. Join meetup groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!)
3. Join Facebook groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!)
4. Sign up for a class in your target second language to make friends who speak that language.
5. Call libraries in the area where there is a large population of folks who speak your target second language. See if they offer a reading hour in your target second language. See if they have a bulletin board where folks might post events that might focus on your target second language.
6. Check out book stores where they have a large collection of books in your target second language. Post up a sign or look for events posted on bulletin boards there.
7. Post an ad on craigslist looking for friends who speak that second language choice or search for events there.
8. Go to grocery stores that focus on foods culturally from your target second language and see if anyone has posted events up on the bulletin boards there.
9. Check out your local newspaper that focuses on your target language choice and see if they list some fun events.
10. Look online at local museums that have collections of art that focus on your target language to get on their lists to see when events might come up that might focus on the language of your choice.
How can you get the most from your event?
Encourage your child to jump right into the event and start speaking your target second language! If there is an activity – get your kid to join! If there are restaurants nearby with staff that can speak your target second language, have your kids order the meal! If there is a special activity, make sure that you get there on time to enjoy it!
For us, my children were delighted to find out that people actually speak Chinese outside of our house! When we first started exploring Chinese, my kids must have thought that it was this language that only existed in our home and with our babysitter! Now they know that there is a large community right in our neighborhood that speaks Mandarin just like they do!
It is really up to you and how much free time you have with your family. We try to attend something in Chinese once a month. We have explored all of Chinatown, purchased books at fairs, listened to library book readings in Mandarin, gone to museum gallery events that focus on Chinese culture or history and attended many playdates hosted in Mandarin.
Where are we in these pictures?
The pictures of my family in this post are of us enjoying Chinese New Year in San Francisco. My kids loved munching on Chinese snacks at the stands, “dancing” in a Chinese Ribbon Dance, watching Chinese drummers perform and testing out their Mandarin with everyone they met!
Enjoy your adventures!