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How would you create a language immersion summer proram?


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I live in a place with a definite dearth of language immersion camps/programs/schools/anything... I'm toying with the idea (sound crazy! but also maybe interesting?) of trying to create my own immersion week this summer, just as a fun thing for my kids to do. I speak German with them already, but not OPOL since dh doesn't speak or understand German and just tunes us out (instead of learning it! lol) when we speak it.

 

So what would this look like? Just help me dream big here! Could I find international students who are here for the summer and possibly pay them to spend their days with us for a week? Perhaps even very advanced students of German (but not native Germans)? Spend the whole day reading in German, writing, watching movies, listening to audiobooks (we already do this a lot, but certainly not all day)?

 

FWIW - my kids are all 7 and under.

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When teaching my children Spanish, I had a lot of success with just playing games they already knew (like UNO) but speaking in Spanish.  There's a lot of phrases repeated over an over again in games, so it makes it easy to pick those up.   

 

I've also heard that teaching a simple craft in another language is a good immersion method.  I could see where that would be good in an immersion week. 

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I love that idea!

 

Could you plan an activity in the morning and another in the afternoon (perhaps supported by a hired student)? Then in the evening you could do a read-a-loud in German, something easy for everyone to enjoy (fluff, ok!)

 

The activities could be things like: choking, baking, nature walk, museum visit, grocery shopping, craft, games, puzzle (with podcast or audio story), people watching over lemonade and cookies, etc.

 

Have fun!

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When teaching my children Spanish, I had a lot of success with just playing games they already knew (like UNO) but speaking in Spanish. There's a lot of phrases repeated over an over again in games, so it makes it easy to pick those up.

 

I've also heard that teaching a simple craft in another language is a good immersion method. I could see where that would be good in an immersion week.

Yup, I second the 1st part! Take non-language specific games & activities & use them as a vehicle for language development. Read books in the target language--include audio books as well. Have your child 'teach' dad a few tidbits & his amazement will fuel the child's motivation. Do you have local play groups or even an embassy nearby?

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Yup, I second the 1st part! Take non-language specific games & activities & use them as a vehicle for language development. Read books in the target language--include audio books as well. Have your child 'teach' dad a few tidbits & his amazement will fuel the child's motivation. Do you have local play groups or even an embassy nearby?

I should've been more clear: my children are already relatively fluent (for their ages) in German. But they lack motivation to use it. I can speak it to them all day long, and they still answer in English and talk amongst themselves in English! lol. (typical bilingual issue, I believe!) So we have lots of German movies, music, and games that they love.

 

But I think they still have this view that German is this weird thing that mom and Frau Nora do (one other German speaking family near us) but it's not really relevant outside of that. That's where I wondered how to get them somehow more engaged and motivated when it comes to every day usage. I thought perhaps having someone who is from Germany (if I could find such a willing victim... or few...) actually spend a week with them might help my cause some.

 

That I am aware of (and I've looked... a lot... ) there are no German play groups, German immersion groups, etc. anywhere near us. 1 hr away there is a German Saturday School, but we visited a few times and it was mostly teaching kids their colors and letting them watch Disney movies in German. My kids can (mostly) do that by age 2, and it just wasn't a good fit for us.

 

BUT, I do believe there would be some other interest in an immersion week/camp/program, if I could come up with a simple idea of one. I know of at least two other families that have a German parent, but somewhere along the way they got too busy to speak German to their kids and they'd love to kindle that German spark in their lives again (but aren't really motivated to put in the work of speaking to their kids in German all day, again). So I'm just wondering what I might be able to come up with to create more of the German language environment and opportunities that I would like to see.

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BUT, I do believe there would be some other interest in an immersion week/camp/program, if I could come up with a simple idea of one. I know of at least two other families that have a German parent, but somewhere along the way they got too busy to speak German to their kids and they'd love to kindle that German spark in their lives again (but aren't really motivated to put in the work of speaking to their kids in German all day, again). So I'm just wondering what I might be able to come up with to create more of the German language environment and opportunities that I would like to see.

The first link I posted upthread has a price tag. How about charging the two other families whatever amount adjusted for your COL and run a one week immersion camp at your home? Not sure how feasible legally.

 

Too bad the German Saturday school is relatively far away. Here, the German schools with no summer camps would be happy to have volunteers start one.

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Someone once told me that Waldorf families have an interest in learning German, though I'm not totally sure about that...

 

I think that's a great idea. You could start really small this summer - charge a nominal fee, run it out of your home, work up a simple routine, just take a small group of kids through word of mouth and see how it goes.

 

I'd look at how other camps operate. And then I'd plan really simple things - a daily nature walk, a daily board/card game, a daily outside game, a daily cartoon in German, etc.

 

If it goes well, maybe you could look into something more serious for the following summer.

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I use this in a weekly class. https://www.hueber.de/planetino/?id=pg_index_pli I order from Book Depository. It has songs and games. I add notebooking, more singing, board games, and active play. My kids are frustrated because it is too easy, but they like not being the only ones learning German. We don't have a Saturday school, so basically I made my own. I found it works better to teach children older than mine. The younger children in my classes have been slower to really speak German. The older kids are motivated to do things liks duolingo and watching movies on their own.

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Involving other kids would surely help, along with a "stranger" who only speaks German. Easygoing penalty if they use English? Perhaps paired with some fun to use phrases that wouldn't normally be taught, like "Hey!", "Stop it!", "Gimme that!", I'm thinking 8yo edgy. 😊 pair outings with appropriate vocabulary, and then bingo or another game to get points for using the vocabulary?

 

It sounds like your kids, and maybe most of the kids you know, don't really need more vocabulary so much as an incentive to use it.

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If your kids already speak relatively fluently, I would NOT invite other families with children who don't speak German already. I can't imagine the discipline issue, trying to get children who don't have German not to chit chat in English.  I think your idea of having university students or native speakers near you come for various times would be great. Plan activities like a traditional summer camp -- make breakfast together, go to the park for a nature walk, do arts and crafts, have circle time, structure a *tiny bit*of songs/books/writing but otherwise, just give them other people who ONLY speak German to interact with.  There are very strict laws about what au pairs can and cannot do, but you could possibly contact an agency near by and see about hooking up with german native speakers. It might be possible for them to pick up extra paying hours for that week if their host family doesn't need them full time. There might be a German meetup group as well for another source. 

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How dd immersion camp (12-16yo) looks like:

- one has to speak the language all day, everywhere. One can use mothertongue here and there, but too much use of the mother tongue (or refusing to participate) gives warningpoints. Good participation and motivation gives rewardingpoints.

A certain amount of warningpoints has consequences, the rewardingpoints give access to more fun activites / snacks.

- they do all kind of activities in the target language: baking pizza, sport games, hike/expedition / treasure hunting, shopping, scout/camp games like living stratego,

- they train certain skills / vocab / grammar issues in workshop sessions twice a day.

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One thing you could do is look into foreign exchange students that your local high schools might be bringing in for the school year.  Often, the students come a month or so early or stay on a few weeks after the school year ends.  Find out if any of them are from German-speaking countries, and you could hire them to take part in your immersion week.

 

I think it's a really great idea!  I'd start very small this year, just one week, maybe four hours/day, and end with lunch together.  Then, add some fun worksheets they can do on their own in the evenings to reinforce vocabulary or grammar they worked on during the day.  I'd have just a few focus subjects that you work with, such as kitchen, nature, and maybe one more.  

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I should've been more clear: my children are already relatively fluent (for their ages) in German. But they lack motivation to use it. I can speak it to them all day long, and they still answer in English and talk amongst themselves in English! lol. (typical bilingual issue, I believe!) So we have lots of German movies, music, and games that they love.

 

But I think they still have this view that German is this weird thing that mom and Frau Nora do (one other German speaking family near us) but it's not really relevant outside of that. That's where I wondered how to get them somehow more engaged and motivated when it comes to every day usage. I thought perhaps having someone who is from Germany (if I could find such a willing victim... or few...) actually spend a week with them might help my cause some.

 

That I am aware of (and I've looked... a lot... ) there are no German play groups, German immersion groups, etc. anywhere near us. 1 hr away there is a German Saturday School, but we visited a few times and it was mostly teaching kids their colors and letting them watch Disney movies in German. My kids can (mostly) do that by age 2, and it just wasn't a good fit for us.

 

BUT, I do believe there would be some other interest in an immersion week/camp/program, if I could come up with a simple idea of one. I know of at least two other families that have a German parent, but somewhere along the way they got too busy to speak German to their kids and they'd love to kindle that German spark in their lives again (but aren't really motivated to put in the work of speaking to their kids in German all day, again). So I'm just wondering what I might be able to come up with to create more of the German language environment and opportunities that I would like to see.

Oops, sorry. I guess I didn't read close enough to your post. I'm still listening in though because we're in a similar situation, lol.

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