We get it — summertime often means vacations where you’ll be out of your regular routine, and maybe even taking a break from your classes or lessons. Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. offers some tips for avoiding the dreaded learning loss, while still enjoying your summer…
Practice makes perfect, and language skills are no exception. And while we don’t recommend taking time off from learning, we understand the summertime mindset.
If you must take a break, you can avoid major learning losses — while still having fun and enjoying your summer. Use your free time to explore the language you’ve been studying in new ways, so you’ll return in the fall with increased skills, fluency, and appreciation for the language you’re mastering.
Continue reading for tips specifically for summer, aimed at strengthening the skills you’ve already developed, exploring new facets of the language, and maintaining motivation and momentum in your target language.
Summer Language-Learning Tips for Parents
- Hire an au pair with a specific language background.
Au pair arrangements can be ideal: you provide someone with the opportunity to travel with you or stay in your home, and in exchange, they offer child care, in the target language alone or in combination with English. Not only will your child improve his or her language skills, they will also make a new friend and learn directly about the culture behind the language.
- Make new friends.
As a parent, you’re probably always looking for activities to keep your kids busy in the summer; seek out like-minded parents whose children are either learning the same language or are growing up speaking it, and plan a play date! You can even offer to host it. During the play date, you could encourage the kids to have a tea party in the target language, have the dolls or stuffed animals speak in the target language, or even put on a Disney movie dubbed into the target language.
- Look into summer language camps.
Going to a language camp can create a lifelong love of learning and languages, as it can be a uniquely profound and immersive experience for your child. Research camps to find one at the right level for your child, and you’ll see their language skills soar!
Summer Language-Learning Tips for Adults
- Keep up with your workbook, listening activities, and other supplementary materials.
If you or your tutor is out of town, there’s plenty you can do on your own! Using a textbook that comes with a workbook and/or audio activities is a great idea, since you can check your work with the answer key. For bonus points of education and enjoyment, try working on your workbook in a café that offers cuisine from the culture. For example, if you’re learning French, head to a French cafe and enjoy a croissant and an espresso while working.
- Attend outdoor cultural events.
Summertime is made for outdoor dancing, film screenings, and picnics. Research events in your community to find which activities are culturally oriented toward your target language. While you’re attending these events, you may make new friends, practice the language, and experience the culture first-hand.
- Join a book club, in person or online.
Reading is a summertime pastime that can go wherever you go; you can read at the beach, on a plane, or in a garden, and you’ll be building new vocabulary, increasing your reading speed and comprehension, and enjoying yourself in your target language. Try either joining a club where you can discuss what you’re reading, or create your own personal reading challenge for the summer – choose several books and commit to finishing them by a certain date!
Summer Language-Learning Tips for Everyone
- Reinforce language skills in the car.
If you’re planning some summer travel, make use of that time stuck in a car, plane, or train! For kids, consider bringing along some flashcards or language-focused card games to keep them occupied and engaged. You could also download language-learning apps and games onto your iPad or iPhone. For adults, queue up some interesting podcasts in your target language. (Editor’s Note: Check out our top picks for Spanish podcasts!)
- Join a cultural center.
Organizations that are dedicated to a specific culture offer loads of fun and learning in the summer, when it’s a great time to be out and about. Between film screenings, organized trips to museums and cultural institutions, and picnic gatherings and social hours, cultural centers will offer you or your child creative ways to engage with the language.
If you’ve dreamed of exploring Spain, Germany, Italy, or anywhere else, summer is a great time to do so! You’ll return home refreshed, along with immersing yourself in the language. Plan ahead of time how you’ll maximize your time spoken in the target language and minimize the use of English.
Of course, these language-learning tips are just the beginning — use your imagination and incorporate your target language into whatever activities you enjoy! Enjoy your extracurricular enrichment, and don’t forget to schedule your next lesson or class for the fall, as you’ll want to continue building on all the new skills you developed in the summer!