More than 800,000 foreign students are enrolled in US universities this school year, and the number is expected to climb – it has been doing so for the past seven years. China, India, and South Korea alone comprise half of these students, and keep your eye on Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait – their student enrollment in the US in on a notable rise.(http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/11/11/us-sees-record-number-of-international-college-students).
Unquestionably, these students are bright – they have high SAT, GMAT, and GRE scores. And, they obviously scored high enough on their TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) to gain admittance into their chosen program. These students’ parents and teachers have prepared them well academically, but there is one area that in general that could be better – the English speaking part...continue reading
November 19, 2013
Just how important are international friendships for your child?
This post isn’t actually about friendship – it’s about money, and setting your child up for a successful career. I could discuss how when children are exposed to other cultures they become more empathetic, understanding, knowledgeable, and in general a better contributor to a global society, but those points are quite obvious.
The other benefit, or perhaps even competitive advantage, that your child gets from having friends from many cultural backgrounds or countries is a budding rolodex of international connections that they can leverage in their future careers. In fact, having more friends has been shown to being a stronger indicator of future earnings than standardized test scores. (http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/10/1023_btw/3.htm)
When I was a nine year old girl growing up in northern Illinois, I had a pen pal in Wisconsin. It was a nice little experience, but we lost touch and I really don’t know what happened...continue reading
November 11, 2013
Why Learning a New Language Requires You to Learn a New Culture
I remember sitting in my advanced bilingual education class during my undergraduate work at Western Illinois University, and hearing the professor say, “You cannot separate language and culture.” I didn’t fully appreciate the impact of those words until later in my career.
A few years down the road, when I was living and teaching in Bogota, Colombia as part of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program, a fellow teacher told me how there was a new Sushi restaurant, and it advertised, “All you can eat.” And it advertised this in English. We English teachers all found this fascinating. There wasn’t really a Spanish phrase that conveyed what “All you can eat” truly meant. Sure, it could have been literally translated, but the meaning would have been lost because overindulging yourself...continue reading
November 6, 2013
Want to be Bilingual? Get Emotional
I was 20 years old in Buenos Aires checking in for a flight with my family for our return trip to the United States. The airline had e-mailed us and told us that our flight had changed, so there we were ready to check in for newly assigned flight. However, the airline agent’s system was still saying that we were booked for the original flight. So he said in Spanish, “You can change to this new flight but it’s going to cost $250 USD per person.” There were 5 of us. Clearly there was a misunderstanding, and the only resource I had was all the high school and college Spanish that I had taken.
As I translated back to my dad what the agent had said, I felt the intense unspoken pressure from my notoriously spend thrift father bare through me. “Fix this” was the message I was getting. As the emotional pressure mounted, I suddenly said confidently in near perfect Spanish: “Nosotros no cambiamos los boletos – Uds. nos cambiaron el vuelo a nosotros. - We didn’t change our tickets. You guys changed our flight.” My accent was the best it had ever been; my grammar right on target. I even got the verb tense right. My Argentine friends standing near looked at me in disbelief. “We didn’t know you could speak Spanish like that”, they told me. Neither had I...continue reading
October 30, 2013
What We Can Learn From Tiger Parents
As an American woman living in the United States, I’ve heard my fair share of people criticizing ‘Tiger parents.’ These non-tiger parents say things like “they’re just kids,” and “you can’t be that hard on them,” or “they have no childhood.” And I believe the intent behind these rationales is positive, but tiger parents have a strong defense on their side – kids that get into great universities and get high paying jobs.
If you are unfamiliar with the term “Tiger Parent,” it means parents (typically of Chinese ancestry) that can use an authoritarian parenting style and push their children really really hard, especially at academics. Let me clarify that I am not advocating in any way an authoritarian way of parenting, as many studies have shown children of this extreme parenting to exhibit, “more aggression, depression, anxiety, and social problems and have poorer social skills”. What I am posing, however, is that many American parents could benefit from placing a greater emphasis on academics. It is very typical for American parents highly value their child being “well-rounded”, meaning that perhaps they are skilled at basketball, go to dances with their friends, and are involved in some volunteer work – and while these students are doing all this, they are earning B’s, and choosing not to take AP classes or learning how to code...continue reading
October 23, 2013
Technology and Language Learning
What would you say if I told you that you could be fluent in any language in 6 months or less?
20, maybe even 10 years ago the thought that a person could pick up a language in such a short period of time was unheard of. Language learning takes practice, perseverance, patience and certainly a lot of dedication. But times have changed and what was once impossible is now within reach thanks to technology..
Think about it, 20 years ago the only ways to learn and master a new language was to attend a language school spending thousands of dollars plus the required dedication, patience and so forth. Your other choices were a tutor – which could arguably take less or more time depending on how you approach it – or moving to another country. All of these required...continue reading
October 10, 2013
Why I Chose California to Host a Summer Camp
Summer camps are a great US tradition, like baseball and apple pie, and their roots are heavily planted within the East Coast. In fact, the first summer camp began in Connecticut in 1861. (Summer Camp Handbook)
But as the popularity of camps grew, and their specializations diversified over the decades, other areas of the US became increasingly popular and even more urban based. Currently, San Diego, CA is ranked as the number one most popular city for camps (Yahoo! Finance).
So, six years ago, when I had the idea to have a summer camp experience that was completely focused on teaching English as Second Language and was targeted at 9-13 year old non-US kids...continue reading