If life as an expat is hard, say sleeping on wooden slats, then life as a homeschooling expat can be akin to snuggling up on a nice cement slab. I am a multilingual homeschooling expat and I don’t reside in a country that speaks any of my target languages. It’s frequently like sleeping on a bed made up of millions of limpets’ teeth.
When our mutual sexy-time goal shifted from the big C (climax) to another big C (Conception), our language plan was easy. We lived in New York City. The kids would get English everywhere. I would speak French and El Jeffe would speak Spanish. Latinos and Frenchies are as common as roaming rodents on the lexington line after hours, a huge advantage when seeking linguistic support.
Now the equation has moved from elementary math to advanced calculus. I have to consider what the language/s are of the country we are settling in. I need to figure out where certain groups of nationalities are clustering. The French tend to be fairly well established in most large metropolises but not always where the French school is located. Mexicans, unlike in NY, are not a dime a dozen in this part of the world. I’ve had to accept Castilian Spanish at a push. Mexicans and the TH-sounding “C” mix like oil and water.
It varies country to country but here are the six tips I’ve acquired for finding my linguistic tribe:
1. Check the international schools. Don’t just assume that people live near the school. I contacted the French Lycee to find out what neighborhoods were well served by their school buses. Chances were, I’d end up with French neighbors. (Four to date on my row of houses and another arriving in the autumn)
2. Check if there is an organization promoting your country/language. We have the Alliance Francaise. Again, not much happening on the Mexican front but certain languages tied to the former colonisation of countries have a legacy presence.
3. Register with your embassy and attend any independence day or other celebrations. It’s a quick way to meet lots of fellow nationals.
4. Stock up on DVDs and books. Now is a good time to get your VPN accounts sorted for your country so you can stream children’s programs.
5. Make sure your library card is renewed. Again you may be able to access digital materials.
6. Long summer vacations immersed with other kids and family is the ultimate winner. This is especially important for those hard to find languages. Writing letters to friends, encouraging your kids to develop foreign penpals or keep summer friendships alive has the added benefit of developing their written skills.
Wishing you all some linguistic love. –MultilingualMama
This post was lovingly accepted by Bilingual Avenue who is hosting this month’s Multilingual Blogging Carnival. To find out more, sign up, or take part in the carnival, check out the carnival home page here!