WHILE MANY 13-YEAR-OLDS might
baulk at the idea of spending their vacation in
a classroom, Jaden Jones happily spent her ho-liday
in Spain learning the difference between the present
perfect, present indefinite, and imperfect tenses in Spanish.
Jaden and her parents, a family from Seattle, Wash-ington,
dedicated one week of their three-month trip in
Europe to studying Spanish together as a family at a small
language institute in Seville, Spain. Jaden, who studied
Spanish in middle school, took more advanced classes
with her father, who had some background with the langu-age,
while her mother started as a beginner.
And despite her struggles with the imperfect tense,
Jaden appreciated how studying Spanish gave her a local
perspective on the place she was visiting. “It helped me
connect more to the people around me,” she says.
Jaden’s mother, Kim Kraft, explains that the language
classes provided some structure to the family’s otherwise
open-ended vacation schedule. “We took our classes in
the morning and had the rest of the day free to explore and
apply some of what we learned,” Kraft says. “It’s experien-tial
learning at its finest. You get to see the results of your
learning right away.”
Jaden and her parents are among an increasing number
of families seeking opportunities to incorporate language
and cultural learning into their family vacations. From
small institutes that offer private classes to residential im-mersion
camps, family language programs are a growing,
albeit somewhat niche, segment of the language market.
While no data exists on the sector as a whole, individual
providers report increased demand for programs – in both
English as a second language (ESL) and other foreign lang-uages
– that allow both parents and children to participate
in language learning and cultural activities together.
“Our family programs were born rather organically out
of an increasing number of requests for parents to attend
lessons as part of our adult student body, alongside joining
in activities with their children during the junior camp sea-son,”
says Andrew Goulding, director of junior programs at
Canada-based ILSC Education Group.
After piloting its first program for families learning
English in January 2017, ILSC now offers five start dates
during each winter and summer season. It is launching a
family camp to learn French at its campus in Montreal in
summer 2019, which it expects to be of interest in Latin
America and Europe. ILSC’s two main markets for English
during the winter session are Brazil and Korea, with a sum-mer
population that is more diverse.
ISSUE #19 | THE PIE REVIEW | 9