How young people benefit from cultural exchanges

More and more people are beginning to understand why learning a language is important. As a result we’re all wondering what the best way to learn a language is. The immersion technique through cultural exchanges is quickly becoming a favorite.

So what’s so great about cultural exchanges?

There are so many advantages of learning a language through a cultural exchange that we can’t list them all. So here are our top ten reasons why young people benefit from cultural exchanges…

Cultural exchanges friendship confidence
Young people build confidence through overcoming obstacles and broadening their horizons.
Get motivated!

Learning grammar and vocabulary in the classroom is all well and good, but is it all that inspiring? Visiting another country on a cultural exchange gives a context to language learning because young people can apply their language skills. As a result they’ll be amazed by how much they’ve already learned and will discover the purpose of all that spelling and conjugation practice.

Develop communication and problem-solving skills

A cultural exchange is a great way for young people to prove what they know, but on some occasions they may find themselves lost for words! Such situations are often hilarious as your son or daughter will have to get creative to communicate with their host family. This will improve their communication skills and problem-solving skills, and help them to remember new vocabulary too!

Stop worrying about mistakes

As soon as speaking a language is necessary to communicate with those around you. In consequence it becomes easier to shed that self-consciousness about making mistakes or looking silly. Such sheepishness is found in abundance in secondary schools, and as such adolescences often benefit both linguistically and emotionally from cultural exchanges.

Learn the living language

Languages are living: they change and evolve with society. This makes learning a language all the more difficult yet all the more interesting. Through immersion in a family on a cultural or language exchange, young people can learn the language of young people. They’ll also learn to speak more idiomatically, just like the natives!

Experience a different culture

Some things just can’t be taught in a classroom, to some extent culture is one of them. The best way to learn about a country’s culture is to experience it in the native language. Cultural exchanges also give young people an important insight into other perspectives, broadening their horizons and encouraging them to develop their opinions and ideas.

Overcome obstacles

Cultural exchanges can be challenging, but therein lies their value. Facing hurdles during an exchange gives young people a sense of accomplishment, boosting their self-esteem and self-awareness. As a result they return home with the ambition and confidence necessary to take on new challenges and pursue new goals.

Become socially adaptable

Immersion in another culture often involves engaging in new and unfamiliar social situations. Through navigating the social customs of another country, young people become more flexible and adaptable to unknown situations in general. They also learn to appreciate other cultures and ideas, and become more open to compromise.

Cultural Exchange Friendship
Young people often build lifelong friendships during cultural exchanges
Build lifelong friendships

During a cultural exchange young people participate in the day-to-day life of a host family, effectively becoming another member of the family. They will return home to their actual family at the end of the exchange having formed long-lasting bonds with their hosts and with many new friendships. Many young people stay in contact with their hosts long after their exchange has ended and even continue to visit one-another in the future.

Get accustomed to foreign environments

Young people who participate in exchanges are often more comfortable in multicultural and multilingual environments in the future. Not will they go on to feel more at ease when abroad and traveling, but will adapt better to new environments.

Become a host

A cultural exchange is as much about hosting as it is about traveling abroad. For many young people this may be their first experience of hosting someone that they have not met before. As a result they will develop vital social skills, learning to be sensitive to the needs of others and to analyze group dynamics.

So what are the disadvantages?

Cultural exchanges sound perfect, right? However, there are a few challenges…

Finding a host family

So you’ve decided that a cultural exchange is the best way for your child to learn a language? Now it’s time for the mammoth task of finding a trustworthy host family. For those fortunate enough to have friends in far-flung places this poses no problem, however we aren’t all so lucky.
That’s where online platforms such as Kinder Exchange come in. Although there are many exchange services out there, Kinder Exchange is one of the few platforms that takes on the matchmaking process themselves. Platforms such as Kinder Exchange allow you to rest easy knowing that your child is in safe hands.

Going away from home is daunting

Being separated from your friends and family can be daunting for a young person as well as for their family. However such challenges make participating in an exchange all the more enriching. At Kinder Exchange, we help you to get to know the partner family before the exchange so that you know when your child will be staying. By speaking via email, Skype, and social networks, young people can get to know their partners too so that they know what to expect before arriving.

Recipe for a great exchange: the student

If it’s the first time that you’re embarking on an exchange, it can be difficult to know how to approach it. To help you to ensure that your time abroad is nothing short of spectacular, we’ve come up with the perfect recipe for making the most of your exchange.

Throw yourself into the culture, head first
When in Rome, do as the Romans do – this works even better if you’re heading to Rome! An exchange in a host family is culturally enriching experience as you will participate in day-to-day family life in another culture. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the culture by saying yes to new experiences and stepping a little outside of your comfort zone. Whether it be food, a local tradition, or a family member’s hobby – you’re bound to learn something new and meet some interesting people along the way.

french exchange programShare your culture
‘Exchange’ means giving one thing and receiving another; so whilst it’s important to immerse yourself in your host families culture, remember that they’d love to learn about your culture too! Try cooking a meal, watching a classic film, teaching them a traditional song, or explaining idioms of your culture to help your family get to know more about you.

Communicate in your target language
This may need a little self discipline! When away from home, communicating in a target language can be frustrating and it’s all to easy to slip into your mother tongue at the earliest opportunity. However, the more you speak your target language, the more you learn and the easier communicating will become. Although you may make a few mistakes, use every blunder as a way to learn something new by asking your host family and friends to correct you.

Don’t be an island
Arriving in a host family that you’ve never met before can be overwhelming and your instinct may be to hide away in your room – especially if you’re feeling homesick! By spending time with your host family outside of organised activities, you’ll begin to feel at home in your new environment and will become part of the family. Not only does this help to stave off any feelings of homesickness, but through interacting with the family you’ll learn more about the culture and language, and will form lifelong friendships!

Written by Hati Whiteley for Kinder Exchange.

The Benefits of Becoming a Host Family

Opening the door of your home to an exchange student can be one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences of your life. Your family would have an extraordinary opportunity to experience different cultures first hand and to create lifelong relationships with people and families around the world. Here are just a few reasons to become a host family.

host familySharing your own culture – As a guide for an international student eager to learn about your culture, your family will showcase all the things that make it unique. In return, you will find you appreciate your culture that much more and will be reminded of all the great things it has to offer to the world. Introducing your new family member to the cuisine, music and people of your country will undoubtedly make their stay an unforgettable experience that will follow them for the rest of their life.

Learning about a new culture – This process is a two way street and while you’re promoting your own culture you would have a wonderful chance to learn about new, exciting countries, people and traditions. Expand your family’s horizons and connect them to the world without even having to leave your home.

Making lifelong friendships – After the student’s visit has come to an end, many host families and students stay in touch. Host families often travel to visit their student in his/her country where they continue to bond and strengthen their relationship. Students also come back and revisit which further deepens your connection. Friendships established through these exchange programs help promote mutual cultural understanding by bringing different nationalities together.

Practicing a new language – This experience can be beneficial for both a host family and a student in terms of learning or perfecting a foreign language. Your family will be exposed to a new language in a relaxed setting of your own home which would in return make learning it much more fun and exciting.

Having fun – All of our host families emphasize how fun their experiences were! They share stories filled with laughter and good times spent with their guests. They all agree that the experience was well worth it and very exciting.

These are just some of the many benefits of being a host family. Every exchange will be different and special in its own way and will bring something new to your family. One thing is certain, it will enrich you while broadening your horizons and will leave you with life-long memories and true friendships.

To learn more about our exchange program and to sign up please visit kinderexchange.org or give us a call at +33 6 60 65 50 89

Written by Marko Manojlovic for Kinder Exchange

How to become bilingual ?

Knowledge of a second language has become increasingly important for both personal and professional growth. Whether you are working for a multinational company or simply enjoy traveling and long to immerse yourself in different cultures, being bilingual offers a breadth of advantages. Celebrities like Bradley Cooper and Johny Depp, both speak French, and Leonardo di Caprio is fluent in German. Similarly, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow perfected their Spanish skills as students living with local families of South America and Spain. If your dream is to be bilingual like these stars, read on – you are in the right place!

Different ways to learn a new language :
Bilingual schools are becoming an inaccessible dream to many parents as they become increasingly selective and costly. As a result, many parents have been forced to improvise, seeking out creative alternatives for ensuring their children learn a second language. Fortunately, many user-friendly apps and online language courses such as Rosetta Stone or « Ingles sin Bareras » offer effective means for learning a new language. Additionally, some parents have found success in recruiting a bilingual nanny or au pair while others have turned to summer camps or afterschool lessons.

bilingualLiving with A foreign partner
Multinational households can ensure their children are raised bilingual by implementing the « One Parent One Language » (OPOL) method. This practice calls for each parent to speak solely their native tongue when conversing with their child, providing a solid base for the child’s continuous learning and understanding of both languages. It’s important to note that OPOL must be implemented in the household early in the child’s development to avoid confusion. To learn more about this method, visit the Multilingual Children Association.

Learn with a reciprocal language exchange program
One of the most successful methods for learning a second language is full language immersions through a reciprocal language exchange program. These programs offer the chance for your child to live abroad and communicate daily with local, native speakers. Living abroad with a local host family allows participants to discover different cultures, traditions and people. The reciprocal nature of these program also offers parents an enriching experience as they open their doors to a child from a different background, country and culture. The experience has proven to broaden horizons for both families and instills in children valuable skills needed for adapting to new and unfamiliar experiences with ease. Participation in language exchange programs can begin at any age and children over the age of 11 can travel on most airlines unaccompanied.
Kinder Exchange facilitates language exchange programs with unparalleled ease and convenience. If you and your family are interested in learning new languages and connecting with individuals from across the globe, simply follow the instructions to take the first step in what is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Written by Marko Manojlovic for Kinder Exchange