This summer, are you looking for a vacation that’s easy, cheap, environmentally friendly, relaxing, educational and fun no matter what the weather?
Give up the hours you’d normally spend trawling the internet looking for the perfect spot and instead opt for a Bilingual Staycation! You’ll be able to spend these sweltering months bonding with your child and learning more than you ever would poolside at a resort.
To take a staycation, you simply need to stay put and enjoy your hometown and its surroundings rather than jetting off to an exotic locale.
If you want to make your staycation this summer extra special, then a bilingual element is all you need, and Language Lizard has plenty of ideas to help you with your first one.
First things first: choose a country in which to take your bilingual staycation. Why not pick a nation that means something to your family? Maybe you have Irish heritage, or great-grandparents from Russia, or you spent a year teaching in China. And if you’re still stuck for ideas, you could go for a country which is heavily represented in your child’s school. Think how much better their understanding of their classmates will be once they’ve delved into their cultures!
Once you’ve chosen your special country, your first stop will be your local library. Ahhh – it’s air conditioned! And of course, it’s a treasure trove of books you can use for an authentic bilingual staycation. Children’s books from your country’s culture will provide a wealth of colorful images and insight into its values and beliefs, not to mention its well-known characters and stories. Pick up a travel guide from a publisher such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guide and linger over all of the tourist attractions without the crowds and lines. Longer novels set in the place you’ve chosen can even help you continue your journey during a special parent-child reading time on a hot afternoon, or long after the children have gone to bed.
Your library may also stock subtitled films: perfect for when the weather isn’t co-operating. You may automatically picture foreign films as serious business, but check out this list of family-friendly flicks you can all curl up with on a rainy day and still manage to immerse yourself in the culture of your bilingual staycation.
Of course, it’s very likely that you’ll get some beautiful sunny days and will want nothing more than to play outside. You don’t have to scrap the bilingual element of your holiday in order to enjoy the weather! Find out what games are popular or traditional in the country you’ve chosen and try them out. If you’ve gone south of the border, soccer is an obvious (and fun!) choice. Did you decide to go Down Under? This website has a wealth of information on the games that indigenous Australians play. Or did you travel east? Take some time on this site about the traditional games of Asia. No matter what country you’ve chosen, you’re sure to have fun, learn about a new culture, and get some exercise to boot.
One way to add an extra element of bonding to your staycation is for you and your child to explore a new language together. It doesn’t need to be an intimidating prospect: just a few words and phrases can give you real insight into a culture. To get you started, check out our main website for a generous selection of bilingual children’s stories. Our books have English and your chosen language printed on the same page to help you make connections between familiar and new words, and they’re available in over 40 different languages.
Similarly, songs will help you continue your exploration of culture. Youtube and iTunes can help you tap into everything from your chosen country’s national anthem to its nursery rhymes to its most recent number one hits. Pick your song and watch the clip until you’ve got some of the words down – some will even have the lyrics flashing on the screen – and before you know it you and your child will have a fun tune that you can share together to celebrate your cultural adventure.
There are few better ways of capturing the imagination than through the stomach. Get your family excited (and hungry!) by searching the phrase “traditional recipes” with the name of your chosen country. Most supermarkets these days carry a wide variety of authentic ingredients, and plenty of cultural recipes can be made with familiar products that are just prepared in different ways and in different combinations, like the Jamaican rice and peas, for instance. Websites like Pinterest can give you a good idea of what the recipe you’ve chosen should look like at the end. Epicurious.com has lots of different versions posted of famous dishes. With just a little extra effort in the kitchen, you can bring the flavors and scents of your chosen country to your very own dinner table.
If you want to do things on a slightly bigger scale and you’re lucky enough to live in a big city, you could continue your virtual journey by visiting a museum to seek art and artifacts from the culture you’ve picked. Many important National Days (like Sweden’s, on the 6th of June, or the Peruvian Independence celebration from July 28-29th) take place during the summer and if you have a local population from that country you could take part in their community celebrations.
There are so many different ways to have the ultimate bilingual staycation without breaking the bank or leaving town. Of course, you might decide you do want to hop on a plane and visit your chosen country at some point, and if so, these ideas will have really helped to prepare you for your trip! Hopefully, they will also have provided you with an enriching, exciting summer vacation right on your own doorstep.