Staying with a host family while traveling or volunteering abroad is the perfect way to fully immerse yourself into a new culture. Sometimes, however, you might find yourself with a language barrier. While your host family will be able to teach you a few words and phrases in their native language, you can reciprocate by teaching them a bit of English during your stay.
These are a few examples of what has worked for me in the past.
1. Teach through household errands: The kitchen is a great place to start. There is an infinite vocabulary of nouns and verbs. “Pass the knife.” “Chop two onions.” Teach them how to cook a traditional meal from your home. Take this lesson outside the kitchen and into the grocery market while utilizing a shopping list. Remember- one thing everyone has in common is food. We all love it, want to eat it, and can talk about it for hours.
2. Utilize Post-Its: If you and your host family use the same alphabet (a.k.a.- the Roman alphabet), place post-its with vocabulary on objects. Table will be easier to learn when they see the word Table every time they sit down for meals. If your host family uses a different alphabet, sound out the word as they write it down, then have them read it back to you, and Post-It.
3. Play. Whether your playing a sport, or hopscotch, or a game of cards, use gestures and vocabulary to explain the rules. Not only is play one of the most fun ways to learn, but the retention rate is much higher as well.
4. Do some crafts. Crafts are fun, especially for children. Get some ideas from the internet for a fun, simple art project. Next, teach some basic vocabulary like glue, scissors, paint, brush, cut, draw. Then let the creativity run wild.
Do you have any other ideas? Please feel free to send us your comments.