Language School....No or Si?

Old Apr 15th, 2005, 05:27 AM
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Language School....No or Si?

Need your life-savvy insights.

My family and I are traveling to San Miguel this summer with the goal of taking classes at a language school.

Or, at least, that was our intention.

A bit of background: My greatest regret in life (so far) has been that I never learned languages. In my job, I'm surrounded by many bilingual people...70% of whom learned the language effortlessly as children...the other 30% started in high school (or later) and then through sheer perservance, made their way to fluency. I envy the first group & admire the second group.

My 6 & 8 year-olds are lucky enough to attend a public school where they receive 30 minutes of spanish instruction a day (and from native speakers). My thought was to use this base & then expand it into language schools over the summers.

Okay, 2nd part of background....my family does some things right, some things wrong but we're great at vacations...we use them as a way to reconnect with our children & have very in-depth time with them.

So, the language school means that they'll be gone from 9 to 1 on five of the 10 days we're on vacation. That means getting them up & out of the door & then we don't see them for the morning. (there are no familiy lessons other than 1on1 tutoring). Do I really want to travel to foreign country to *not* see my children. or am I overblowing this whole thing (it's just a few hours)? Could we forgo the school & just hang out with spanish people (though my expeirence isn't good with this...I worked in Eastern Europe for two years & managed not to learn a word of the language even though I was surrounded by it).

what do you all think?

Garvin222 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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I can only answer from my own experience:

Of course, we all learn our native langauge just by absorbing it and hearing it spoken. I've heard of people who can do that with a foreign language. I'm sure not one one of them. And those who can -- and I've never actually met one -- certainly require more than 10 days to do so. So I don't know how effective the "hanging out with Spanish-speaking people" method would be.

My own experience with language study in a foreign country is that in order to be effective, it requires a lot of practice outside of class. Hanging out with native speakers and not lapsing into English *in addition to* taking the formal classes would work. But if you're going to spend your afternoons together as a family and speak English all the time, I'm not sure your kids will get the added reinforcement for maximum benefit. And immersing yourself the real reason to study a language in another country.

Just my opinion based on my own experience.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2005, 11:16 AM
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Hello. (I have replied to your previous SMA post, re: schools). I understand your query----in getting the most that you can out of the excursion itself, but on the other hand, not wanting to press the school onto the kiddos. I have shared a little of my background with you: began travels to Mexico early in life (inspired and accompanied by my father), then four years in high school (among other romance languages), then double-major in college (testing-out of the minor). I have also privately tutored (& formally instructed) at ALL levels, with great success. (I am not Latin American; I was actually brought-up in the midwest, and never had the option of taking Spanish in school, until high school---thank God our kids have that option now!)
As a mother of a grade-school-age child myself, I can see that you are caught between what you think may be either : missing a great opportunity (SMA school enrollment), or risking the pressure and time away from your children on vacation. I think that it's your call: it depends on the child, I think, really. My younger brother had the same opportunities that I had (and has actually never even been to a Latin American country), and ended-up going into medicine. Who knows?
For me, it all began when Dad starting bringing back children's books from Mexico (I think that I was about 5 or 6 at the time)---the same stories that we already know: Rapunzel, etc. I will never forget Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (<<Blancanieves y los Siete Enanitos>&gt. He taught me the basic rules of pronunciation, and already knowing the storyline, I would attempt to read it in Spanish, and he would guide me along the way. Over the years, I have used these same books to make the connection with those learning Spanish, and even with my little guy. There is such a great feeling that comes from actually seeing / experiencing everything that you have read and studied about----as well as being able to communicate with those whom you feel are an ancient world away (natives, seeing ruins, et al).
Take a day trip to Guanajuato City, barter with the locals, and try to scour-up some terrific material / souvenirs that will remind your kids of this great family trip---and all that you went through to ensure that this would become just one of the many memorable family vacations.
It's your call, Mom---whatever decision you make, your children will be able to look back on this unique experience ever-so-fondly, and will realize one day that you cared enough about them to immerse them in another rich culture, and perhaps broaden their impressionable adolescent world---just a little bit.
talavera_timbre is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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thank you for the amazing replies...and, talavera_timbre, what great insights.

I'm pondering over the weekend...


Garvin222 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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Hi, yet again,
My now 36, 34, and 28 yo children spent lots of vacation time in the various Spanish language schools many years ago in Antigua, Guatemala.
They are all fluent and love SMdA - especially for the very "neutral", less than sing song accent.
Older son was back in Antigua recently for a month: younger son lived and worked in Sao Paulo and Rio after grad school, spent a semester in Madrid and worked in Rome on the EC's Spanish desk.
He is fluent in Portugesa and speaks decent Italian, less French and German.
DD took an upper level poetry course at Pomona - they had to write in their weakest language - hers was Portugesa -the two other student native Spanish speakers got blown away.
Bottom line: you give them EVERY opportunity, every day - the world has way more lawyers than it will ever need!

M
mikemo is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Garvin222 did you go? I am pondering 2 weeks in July with kids and friend with her kids. Looking for thoughts. click on my screen name to see my post if you like.

Thanks
sfmaster is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2006, 06:25 AM
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sfmaster,
There is a very recent post on the TA (SMdA) Forum with a link to an extensive list of schools/activities for children (yahoogroups/civilsma3) which I think will be of some interest to you.
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mikemo is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Hi Mikemo,

What is the TA and how do I find this info? Sounds like what I am looking for.

Thank You,
Gem
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Hola Gem,
The Trip Advisor's forum for SMdA.
Unfortunately, the civilSMA3 yahoogroups forum was abruptly closed, but after several months has been resurrected.
I only got about 1/4 through, but don't recall seeing the school/kid's activity list on the new civilSMA.
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mikemo is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Thank you Mikemo!!
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Old May 24th, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Por nada.
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