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Raised Abroad: Helping Children and Teens in Overcoming the Language Barrier

Raised Abroad: Helping Children and Teens in Overcoming the Language Barrier
on May, 20 2013

Children whose parents migrate to foreign countries need to face many and often overwhelming challenges including overcoming the language barrier. Before parents decide to live on foreign soil, the pros and cons are usually weighed very carefully such that the opportunities that cannot be missed are commensurate to the possible difficulties that lie ahead. Those who move to a foreign country by choice are usually aware of the potentially stressful situation that they face, particularly when there are children involved. But they also know about the immense possibilities that await them and their offspring as well.

Overcoming the language barrier

When a family moves to a country that speaks a different language than the cradle tongue, both parents and children experience concrete barriers in their assimilation with the culture that they are newly introduced to. Of these many barriers, language is usually one of the biggest hurdles that complicate the process of adapting effectively to the new environment.

Learning the language is not just important in order to facilitate communication but it is also essential in socialization and forming a support group as well. Overcoming the language barrier successfully means that the chances of living a life of isolation in the new country are lowered. It has been pointed out by many people who have first-hand experience that having children help parents better their own language skills. For most this is mainly out of necessity. Take the case of an American blogger who has moved to Germany. She was motivated into learning more Deutsch when she had a child, if only to facilitate more effective communication with doctors during check-ups, for starters. As children grow and widen their social circles, parents are motivated to learn some more.

Here are some of the ways by which families living abroad have successfully overcome the language barrier and cultural issues that await them in their new home.

Expect things to be different and prepare for it

A family that chooses to migrate into another country must be ready to face differences in culture and language at the outset. There are new things to see and perceive and a number of other stimulations that are probably strange at first, especially for children and teenagers. It is advisable that parents conduct a thorough research on the traditions and customs of the country that the family is moving to and to share this information to their children in a manner that they will understand. This way, everyone is informed and has no reason to be confused or disoriented once the immersion begins. Culture has an important influence in how children are raised and parents are responsible for introducing the new culture to their children and not merely letting them learn about it by themselves without their guidance.

Be aware of every person’s individual needs

How well a child copes with differences in spoken and written language would depend on his or her developmental age. In general, children adapt more readily and learn a new language at a faster rate than adults. Very young children also soak up what they are exposed to very quickly and learn a second language head on without much difficulty. They easily acquire the local accent. And they benefit from early bilingualism as well because science has proven that learning a new language (at any age) stimulates many areas of the brain.

Teenagers do not soak up as readily as very young children, but those who are blessed with language skills are able to adapt rather quickly. The important thing is that teenagers are given all the support and particular assistance that they require so that they can communicate and socialize with their peers in no time.

Being exposed to other nationalities and cultures provides wider opportunities for personal growth. Children and teens who are raised to be global citizens have a number of advantages over those who remain at the home turf for most of their lives. Children exposed to cultural diversity receive an education that goes beyond books and the classroom. And they grow up to be more confident and sure of themselves, and more aware of their place in the world at large. Moreover, children and teens being raised cross-culturally are more adaptable. This quality would bide them well in other aspect of their lives such as when they go to college and live independently from their parents.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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