I mentioned in a previous post that I really don’t care for immersion camps abroad. I also opted to pass on attending a Concordia Language Village Family Camp this year. Instead, we hired a tutor to spend the week with us. This was a wonderful experience and one I’d highly recommend doing. The cost is also very reasonable when compared to the huge expense of sending your child abroad.
We really loved it because it was completely personalized. Our teacher was able to support us exactly where we needed to be without worrying about other students or families. We were able to tailor the days to our needs. Whether it was cooking food, going to the park, or playing a game at home, we could easily focus on and practice language related to the everyday activities we needed to talk about. This was a huge help for us and much better than having the teacher create a lesson plan from some boring book or irrelevant text.
Jasmine also loved it because she had another friend to play with. We didn’t need to change our daily routines or sit in some boring classroom. We were able to have fun and play while stilling building our Chinese language ability.
Many language questions would also come up throughout the day, ones I wouldn’t have thought to ask in a lesson, but that had immediate relevance for us. The teacher didn’t have to worry about other students or sticking to a lesson plan, she could help us with what we needed at the moment of need. This not only greatly helps memory retention, but keeps things interesting. In addition to point of need, I would also have a list of questions each day that we’d go over at some point.
The other tremendous benefit was that this really pushed our language abilities by spending 8 hours a day in Mandarin with the additional challenge of communicating with a native speaker. Since Jasmine and I mostly speak with each other, we’re not really able to challenge each other as much as I'd like. But having a higher level speaker with us encouraged us to explore new topics and really stretch our language abilities.
When looking for a tutor, I'd recommend searching your local universities from the multicultural center. Foreign language places of worship are also a wonderful resource for locating speakers of other languages. By not having to hire a professional tutor, you also reduce costs significantly and don't have to search so hard to find a good one (because finding a good foreign language tutor is incredibly difficult). If you're thinking about an immersion week for the family or, even if it's just for the kids, I highly recommend trying it out this way.
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