When you’re been living a bilingual life, life in one language can become a little frustrating.
Yes really! During a language or cultural exchange you can get accustomed to life in two languages, with two language’s worth of words and all their nuances. How do you go back to monolingual life after all that possibility?
Moving back to the UK after living in France, one particular word that I wanted to pack in my suitcase and bring home with me was profiter. A French – English dictionary would have you believe that this means take advantage of or make the most of… but there’s a nuance to the word profiter that just doesn’t seem to translate into English.
That got us wondering about other words in other languages that just don’t quite translate…
Café customers who sit at the table for a long time without spending much money.
That embarrassing feeling of watching someone else be humiliated
香 / xiāng (Chinese)
Literally translates as ‘fragrant’, but when applied to food it describes an intense, often meaty aroma that gets your mouth watering.
Literally translated as ‘I ate the whole thing’: when you keep on eating an entire meal despite being full
The distance a reindeer can comfortably travel before taking a break.
L’esprit de l’escalier(French)
Literally translated as ‘stairwell wit’ – a retort that you only think of when it’s too late (one of those ‘I wish I’d said…’ responses).
The moment when you’re still at the table after finishing a meal – the food is still gone but the conversation is flowing.
A feeling of enjoyment that comes from learning of the troubles of others.
The ring left on the table by the bottom of a cold glass of water.
孝順 / xiào shun(Chinese)
Obedience to your parents by being dutiful, respectful, and taking care of them in their old age.
What words have you learned that you would add to the list?
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…
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.
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.
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.