Q: How can my child best learn our host country’s language?
A: I asked Zwetelina Ortega, a language consultant dealing with this potentially overwhelming topic and herself a parent of third-culture children, to provide some guidance.
Ortega encourages parents to immerse their children in the host country’s language. She cites research studies that claim bilingualism will benefit their future social and cognitive abilities as they carry their non-native language(s) into adulthood.
Whether you opt for an English-language international school that offers local-language classes, or a public school – several in Vienna offer a bilingual curriculum – most children will easily absorb and assimilate new language skills.
For children and adults, learning the local language is critical to getting settled and connected, developing friendships with local peers, engaging in recreational activities and understanding the social, cultural and geographical context of new surroundings.
Language learning should go beyond the classroom, says Ortega, who suggests enrolling your children in local extracurricular sport, dance, art or tech activities, or even private tutoring. Even tuning in to local radio and TV at home can be of help.
Don’t forget, it’s also important to preserve ties to your culture of origin by speaking to your child in your mother tongue. But if you plan to remain in your host country for a while, commit to your child’s local immersion. She’ll thank you for it later!
The next workshop (in English) is: “I am educating my child in a multilingual way”
May 21, 10:00–14:00.