Thursday, 6 April 2017

How to maximize the ML while travelling in a Majority Language Country

I´ve been trying to organise a holiday to the UK this summer as I think my children would really benefit from it, both linguistically and culturally. I´d really love to show them my roots so they get to know my country and where I´m from as it´s important to me.Plus I haven´t been back for nearly five years now so it´s about time!!However, my husband doesn´t seem convinced. He doesn´t like travelling with two young kids very much at the best of times so it´s proving quite difficult to persuade him. Also, we have a wedding this summer in the North of Spain and we´ve discussed doing a route around the North of Spain so at the moment I´m putting my UK holiday plans on hold and am going to start concentrating on planning the trip to the Northern Spain and how I can maximize their minority language imput despite the fact that we might not be travelling to a country which speaks the minority language. Here are my ideas:

1. If you can´t travel to visit family and friends, see if they can visit you and go on holiday or a trip together. My parents are coming with us as they´ve never been to this part of Spain before and it will be nice for us to all go together and have fun.Plus two futher bonuses are  that my children will get 90% exposure to the minority language,nearly total immersion, and I´ll have two willing babysitters while we go to the wedding.

2. Take a guided tour in the minority language. Many tourist attractions, museums etc have guided tours in multiple languages,particularly English, French,Spanish and German so try to visit it in your minority language. It´ll be great listening practice for your children and they will learn lots of interesting facts and history.

3. Do something cultural or do an activity in ML if possible: In touristy places there are often many possiblities to do various activities or celebrate cultural events in the minority language.Examples of these are going to see a play or a film in the ML, taking a class in the ML such as a cookery class etc or even celebrating a cultural event. For example, this Easter we are going to Portugal and as there are many British tourists and also many British expats in this area, we are going to an Easter féte with egg painting, food, an egg hunt and other typical British(and German and Dutch!) Easter traditions.

4. Eat at a restaurant owned by expats from your ML country or which serves food from your ML country. It is usually easy to find a variety of restaurants in tourist hotspots,which are often owned by expats.Take Spain for example, along the coast, especially on the Costa Del Sol  you can find many British pubs which serve full English breakfasts, sausage and bacon sandwiches, fish and chips and other British typical dishes and are often run by British expats, so you can eat food from your minority language country while at the same time hearing and speaking the minority language. You may even get friendly with other bilingual or British families.However, it depends on where you are travelling as some places might not have restaurants from your ML country. Although I know that it´s typical to try the food from the region or place you are visiting, I think it is alright to make an exception and to eat in a ML country´s restaurant particularly if you are travelling in the majority language country as you can eat food from the majority language country at any time.

5. Visit ML shops such as supermarkets and bookshops etc. Again you will be exposed to ML print enhancing captive reading in the minority language and will hear and speak in the minority language and again may meet and make friends with monolingual families.

At the moment, these are all the ideas I can think of to promote the minority language and to be as immersed as possible in the minority language and culture as possible while travelling in the majority country or other countries to that of the majority or minority language countries. I´d love to hear if you have any other ideas about how to maximize minority language while travelling in the majority language or other countries which aren´t minority language countries.I have to say that we are extremely lucky to have English as our minority language as it´s spoken widely around the world and there are many opportunities to find things in English.

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