Teaching Your Kids a Foreign Language with the Help of Your Nanny
International businesses are the norm rather than the exception. These mega-corporations move their employees all over the globe to pursue their business purposes. Expatriots and inpatriots are common in today’s communities the world over. People who have the skills to communicate effectively with a variety of cultures are at a professional and social advantage. You are raising your kids to be adaptable in this multicultural melting pot. To do that, your kids need to be multi-lingual and culturally savvy. How can you, with the help of your nanny, work toward that goal?
If your nanny speaks a foreign language and has familiarity with a foreign culture, she can teach your kids to speak that language and to understand and be respectful of that foreign culture. For example, as she goes about her daily tasks, she can introduce your kids to her native language’s names for items she sees. If she speaks French, she can point to your kids’ hands and say, “mains“. Once your kids have mastered basic nouns, your nanny can begin teaching verbs and other parts of speech. Ultimately, she can teach verb conjugation and sentence structure. Ideally, your nanny and your kids will ultimately speak fluent French throughout the majority of the nanny’s work time. Foreign culture can be similarly taught. For example, if your nanny was raised in a culture that embraced the idea that avoiding eye contact is an appropriate sign of deference, your nanny can model and teach that. As other social cues and norms arise that may differ between your nanny’s culture and your own, your nanny can teach your kids about those differences and help your kids become sensitive to and respectful of these differences.
Even if your nanny comes to you from your own culture and is mono-lingual, she can learn with your kids. Trips to cultural centers, learning a foreign language, trying foreign foods, meeting and interacting with people of a foreign culture or speaking a foreign language . . . these and other activities can be arranged and shared by your nanny for your kids.
Here are some additional tips.
Have your nanny coordinate special ethnic days in your home, days that are focused on one specific culture and language. For example, perhaps your family can celebrate Bastille Day (a French holiday) by speaking French, having French food for dinner, discussing why Bastille Day is important to French people, and watching a French movie (without sub-titles) that evening.
Invite a foreign exchange student into your home. That student can, with the help of your nanny, provide further multi-cultural awareness for your kids.
Spend time in ethnic-oriented communities or participating in or observing ethnic activities. Your nanny can escort your kids to your nearest metropolitan area’s Little Italy: they can shop, dine, and immerse themselves in the culture and language there. Your nanny and your kids can attend a cultural observation of Cinco de Mayo, enjoying the music, national dress, and history of this event.
Your nanny and your family can take a vacation to a foreign destination or a domestic location with a foreign orientation. Domestic locations with foreign orientations include, but are certainly not limited to:
Miami, Florida (Cuban orientation),
Orange City, Iowa (with Dutch orientation),
Albuquerque, New Mexico (Pueblo Indian orientation), and
Leavenworth, Washington (Bavarian orientation).
By following these tips, you can, with your nanny’s help, teach your kids a foreign language.
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