Preparing your Kids for Immersion Summer Camp

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Summer is just around the corner and parents everywhere are getting their kids ready for summer camp. When your kids are at camp they are having a blast. They get a chance to discover who they are, get outdoors and make new friends that last a lifetime. In fact, camp conjures up some of the best childhood memories for most who attend.

For many first time campers though, the weeks preceding camp may be filled with anxiety and stress. This is usually the first time they leave home for an extended period of time without their parents, so it’s normal for them to feel nervous. When you add in the fact that camp will be in a foreign language, your child may be even more worried. It’s a good idea to talk with them about how they are feeling and a little preparation goes a very long way. Here are a few tips to help:

Introduce Your Child to the Language

On Immersion Island, we get campers from all skill levels. Some campers have been speaking the new language for years, while others have not even begun learning. We encourage children of all levels to attend our camps. However,  kids often worry about what others think of them.

For the total beginner,  it is good to help give them a little boost before they go and spend these last few weeks learning some new phrases:

  • Make sure they understand the question “What’s your name?” and be able to answer it.  In Spanish: ¿Cómo te llamas?..... Soy  Juan

  • Teach them how to say some basic everyday phrases, such as:

    • Hello - ¡Hola!

    • Good-bye  ¡Adios!

    • Thank you  - ¡Gracias!

    • You’re welcome - De Nada

    • Where is the bathroom?  ¿Dónde está el baño?

    • What’s for lunch?   ¿Qué vamos a comer?

    • When are we going swimming?   ¿A qué hora vamos a nadar?

The point is to give them a little bit to work with and build up their confidence before they go. Celebrate their successes in a big way and show them how much fun they can have with a new language.

For those who have had a lot of “classroom” Spanish but might be “tongue-tied,” or need to warm up their comprehension, here are some more ideas:

Take Advantage of The Media

Television and the Internet both offer some great shows and endless resources to improve your comprehension skills in both Spanish and French. Netflix offers a variety of quality programming for kids to learn Spanish, French, German and even Mandarin, including shows like:

  • Little Baby Bum (available in Spanish, German, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese) (Pre-k)

  • Word Party (available in Spanish, French, German, and Mandarin) (Pre-k)

  • Pocoyo (available in Spanish, French, and Mandarin) (elementary)

  • The Magic School Bus Rides Again (available in Spanish, French, German and Mandarin) (elementary)

For the older kids, check out:

  • Buena Gente  real-life scenarios in Spanish spoken a little more slowly)

  • Go!  Romantic Comedies and other light dramas made in Spanish are gaining popularity - and you can use subtitles to help

  • Coco Spanish Version or watch any of your favorite animated films in the target language with subtitles in English or the target language!

Here is a list of some great online resources for kids of all ages, and Funny Spanish uses games to engage the learner.

Whether you’re watching movies, playing games or learning online, you are spending time with your kids to help them feel more comfortable. This goes a long way and the experience alone will help them to better retain what they learn.

Keep it Fun and Get them Excited

Let them know their time on Immersion Island is meant to be fun. It’s summer camp. They will play games, swim, sing songs and put on silly plays. They will learn about things that interest them and get inspired to see the world. They will taste new food and meet new people who are all there for the same reasons.  They won’t be alone and there will never be a time they aren’t aloud to speak English. We do give them a lot of positive motivation to speak in the target language however. And let them know that even if they are nervous - so is everyone else the first few minutes. And that’s as long as it lasts - maybe a few minutes - because the fun begins right away!

See you soon on Immersion Island!