How to Bring a Foreign Culture into Your Home
Posted on 9th July 2021 at 13:58
2020 and 2021 have both been difficult years, that saw very few people getting to travel and go on holiday as we did before. Trying to teach children foreign languages from home, without the opportunity to take them to the birthplace of their target language, can make learning about the culture and language acquisition quite difficult. But don’t worry, here we have listed 10 fun and easy ways to bring a foreign culture into your home, which will not only help with language learning for children (and grown ups!), but also with broadening your child’s horizons and understanding of the world!
1: Read books set in your target country
This is a fab way to familiarise your child with the country’s culture, how people dress, eat, worship, etc. A great example of this is ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ illustrated series of books by Belgian author Hergé, which are available in their original French and have been translated into English as well as many other languages, meaning they are great for bilingual learning for older children. Although many are set in fictitious locations, these brilliant stories see Tintin go on adventures in amazing locations such as: Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, Belgian Congo, Peru, India, Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia, Nepal, Tibet, and even China! The charming and beloved cartoon style illustration helps children get a glimpse of what other parts of the world look like, making these stories perfect escapism for long car rides or bedtime.
2: Read books in a foreign language
Bilingual books are a brilliant way to gently ease your child into language learning, familiarising them with another language by using stories and words they already know in English! These books are special in that they have both languages (let’s say English and French, for example) on the same page so that learning is simultaneous and not taxing for young readers. They are also very easy to incorporate into the daily routine – try a bilingual bedtime story! We love these bilingual books for kids by One Third Stories.
3: Watch cartoons in a foreign language
Growing up in the English-speaking world, it’s very easy to just assume that English is the default language for everyone. Introducing your child to foreign languages early on, through fun, easy activities that they might normally do – such as watching cartoons – means that not only will they pick up on certain words and phrases in a foreign language, but it’ll also help kids to be more aware of the fact that there are other children out there, just like them, that speak a different language than they do. Netflix Jr is great for this and is available on YouTube – try watching ‘Word Party,’ which is available in Spanish, French, German and Mandarin! There is also the option of subtitles in both English and the target language to help your child learn.
4: Watch movies and documentaries set in foreign countries
Again, this one should be fairly easy and is really accessible – travel the world from the comfort of your sofa! One of the best ways kids learn is through seeing, therefore being able to see what life is like in other countries is an entertaining and fascinating way of introducing your child to a new culture, as well as highlighting the importance of diversity.
5: Watch a foreign TV station
There are plenty of foreign TV stations online, for example, france24.com is a brilliant website, where you can watch livestreams about news and culture - perfect for parents and francophiles passionate about the French speaking world! Their TV channel is available via satellite or cable TV, in French, Spanish and Arabic! Watching for a short while each day is a great way to tune your ear to foreign languages and bring more global awareness of current events into your everyday.
6: Watch the news in a foreign language
With sports, live news and shows for kids in their ‘Kika’ section, ard.de is a great website for keeping up to date on all things German. Watching the news from a foreign perspective gives you a more well-rounded idea of what’s going on in the world and how these events are viewed by others.
7: Listen to the radio in a foreign language
This is truly for those who want to absorb foreign culture whilst going about their day-to-day activities. Leaving foreign radio stations on in the background whilst you drive, work or just relax at home allows you to enjoy music, news and more – and whilst you may not understand everything, it’s a great way of reinforcing any language learning you may be doing and can help you discover new artists that you may not have otherwise heard of!
8: Listen to music in a foreign language
Platforms like Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube are amazing for finding curated playlists of music in foreign languages. Finding a song or artist you like is a great way of connecting with another culture and can also help a lot with language learning.
9: Try a new way of living – especially the food!
Adopt different cultural practices into your everyday, whether it be the Spanish siesta, Swedish ‘fika’, or cooking a dish from another country you have never tried before. There are lots of interesting recipes that are culturally specific to a certain country or region to be found online, or in beautiful cookbooks that will liven up your kitchen shelves!
10: Celebrate foreign holidays
Celebrating foreign holidays is easy; this could be through doing Christmas ‘the German way’, for example, by having an Adventkranz or letting your kids celebrate St Nicholas Day. Or you could try celebrating a holiday that is totally new to you and learn about what it means/represents – could you celebrate the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos after Halloween on Nov 1st-2nd by making and painting calaveras, or sugar skulls, together? (Disney Pixar’s Coco is a lovely film to watch about this celebration, that helps to teach kids that Día de los Muertos is not about Halloween, nor is it scary!) This is a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and teach children about celebrations from all over the world.
We hope you have enjoyed this list! Are there any foreign traditions that you do in your household?
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