Spanish immersion

8 Steps to Planning a Summer Immersion Trip

I am a planner who likes to let things unfold naturally. But I firmly believe that you can't wait around for miracles. It's February, which means that I'm dreaming of how best to spend my next vacation time with kids. Should we enforce Spanish? Learn French? or visit friends across the oceans?

1.    What is your main goal?

a.    language

b.    location

c.     other activity

2.    What is your budget? (I strongly believe that you can do this on ANY budget. Quick tips to cut costs: stay with a host family, rent out your home while you are away to offset costs, eat from the grocery store when travelling)

3.    Where do you want to go?

4.    Where will you stay?

a.    Short-term furnished rental (,,

b.    Home stay with other family

c.     Hotel

5.    How will you spend your days?

a.    Language classes: best for kids if they have NO language experience, or for adults, otherwise go to option b:

b.    Camps of interest

c.     roaming & lurking

6.    Who will be going with you?

a.    whole family

b.    family less one parent

c.     friends

d.    extended family

7.    Will you need and how will you transport your family around?

a.    walking

b.    public transportation

c.     car

d.    taxi or other car service

8.    How will you stay in contact with home? And how will you communicate with locals?

a.    phone

b.    internet service: skype

c.     apps: Whats app

Points to consider:

1)  I believe the best touch points for immersive learning come from peer groups, so be sure to surround yourself and your children with like-minded local souls.

2)  Sometimes travelling in groups from home may hinder your social flexibility with locals (it’s a lot easier to invite 4 to lunch, then to invite 8 or 10).

3)  When you are considering how to spend your days, take note of how comfortable your children are with the target language. Once they have enough tools to communicate on any level, I highly recommend skipping the ‘academic language center’ and immersing them with children of the same age interested in the same activities: art, soccer, surfing, gymnastics. They will have a natural connection with the other children and become all the more motivated to understand and communicate fluently.

Personally, we spend a lot of time in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. There are tons of language schools and summer camps for children, art classes for adults, etc., etc. When choosing your destination, definitely consider the off-time activities that you will enjoy. Please share any other suggestions that you have…. We can all use the tips!

Other destination suggestions:

·      Antigua, Guatemala

·      Madrid, Spain

·      Merida, Mexico

·      Paris, France

Book it! Do it! I can't explain the untold amount of benefits and riches that will flow to you and your family - honestly, grab that Golden Ticket. It's been waiting for you.

#onelife, #familyimmersion, #globaltravel

The Rollercoaster of Flexi-Mexi

Of the countless awkward positions I find myself in when living in Mexico, none are horizontal. There’s def a part of me that laments that reality and wishes I had a saucier tale to tell, but…. it has become super clear that is not the case for my children. They are so much more flexible than I. It’s almost embarrassing, except that I am really proud of them and have made note to follow their lead a touch more.

In my defense, a little about me:

I grew up, first, very poor. We are talking chicken gizzards and tomato sauce with rice for dinner – often. These were the cheapest foods available with nutritional content at the supermarket in the 70’s.  Then we moved “up” to a tony suburb of Los Angeles and ate fresh salmon as regularly as we had previously eaten gizzards. I lived a much posher existence with the ability to attend dance (or whatever else was of interest) classes and extra-curriculars in the 80’s. I actively participated in the closest thing you could to a debutante ball on the West Coast, and trust me that I rocked it. This is all to say that I grew and still am acutely aware of the social differences and expectations that accompany class and geographic differences. Mastering etiquette was as much of a delicious game of chess for me as mastering language is now.

My kids are different. They only know what the last 10 years of their life has presented, and they basically do not remember a time when we didn’t visit Mexico for extended periods each year. Their cultural capital is without strife financially and encompasses travel and multiple languages in only ways that I dreamt about as a latch-key-like child of a modern blended family. While I constantly compare and contrast my cultural expectations no matter where I find myself, they live our ‘Flexi-Mexi’ motto, and they’re cool with it.

We are heading to Jack's first soccer match tonight for 'Real Madrid' - he's mostly psyched to own a new jersey on top of the prospect of shooting a goal. And yes, I'm not lying when I report that my daughter, unsolicited, told me yesterday that she was "glad that I bring them to Mexico every year". It's true that my middle son cried with angst the day before his first day of school here, but by Day 3, they claimed it all good. That complaint alone made me tear up in the shadows thinking "What and why am I doing this to them?!", and yet it is from the same guy that runs into classmates around town who holler out greetings and playdate invitations.

Yesterday morning, I counted the days left in our stay. Today, I wish I could extend it.

April 26, 2011 (Part 2 in a series): First Day of School

April 26, 2011 (Part 2 in a series): First Day of School

Some truths I’ve learned:
A. Vacation Mexico is not the same as Living Mexico.
B. Quaint, charming, ‘manana’ Mexico is different from Mexico 2011 with a family.
C. Your children are your favorite people and most ingratiating part of you, i.e. your personal ambassador and ticket in.

Some truths I’m coming to terms with:
A. No age is too young for telenovelas – my 3 year old would sit and watch these for hours given the opportunity.
B. While you can live cheaply, it’s a lot more pleasant to have a bit more.
C. Safety regulations are relative.
D. Bribes work.